Roughly a month after village council members were expected to approve the sale of nearly eight acres of land along Madison Street to the West Cook YMCA, commissioners are still debating the matter, with no apparent timeline for taking action.
Following a brief council meeting Monday night, commissioners retired into executive session with Village Attorney Michael Durkin to again discuss the finer points of the transaction, according to Commissioner Mark Hosty. Along with the mayor, Hosty was the only council member in office to witness the birth of this proposal in 2005 and expressed frustration that nothing would likely be decided for several more weeks.
“Simply stated, there are way too many lawyers involved,” Hosty said.
What is expected to be a $4.3 million deal will see 7.7 acres adjacent to the Altenheim property on the west side of town turned over to the non-profit organization. In addition to the revenue from the sale, village officials are expecting a sprawling, multi-million-dollar recreation facility to be constructed by the YMCA. According to parties on both sides of the table, the agreement is largely in place. Only the minutiae of contract language remains.
“It’s not the price, it’s not the YMCA’s use,” Hosty said. “Everybody just wants to cover themselves. I hope it’s going to be done soon.”
Village Administrator Mike Sturino disagreed with Hosty’s sour assessment of the hold-up, saying it’s important that both the village and the YMCA secure their respective interests. However, Sturino remained somewhat critical of the YMCA and said the responsibility for turning this proposal into reality rests with that organization’s board members.
“It’s up to the YMCA whether this deal happens or not,” Sturino said.
In late 2006, when the two parties were at odds over the selling price for the land, Sturino described the pace of negotiations as “glacial.”
Mayor Anthony Calderone said there’s nothing to indicate the sale won’t go through, and attributed the recent delays to the shuffling of contract language between attorneys. The agreement is shaping up to be a complex one, Calderone said, in part because of contingencies such as the village’s position that the land be used for a new YMCA and only a new YMCA.
“It’s continuing to take longer than I was hoping,” Calderone said.
Preliminary drawings of the proposed facility call for a host of features expected to set the YMCA back some $19 million. The 65,000-square-foot facility will feature two indoor swimming pools, an indoor track, indoor basketball and volleyball courts and enough parking for 200 cars. A gym, locker rooms, sauna, meeting facilities, racquetball courts and child care center are also part of the project. The grounds may also include outdoor soccer, baseball and softball fields.
The project would be a replacement for the aging 45,000-square-foot YMCA on South Marion Street in Oak Park.
Meanwhile, a massive fundraising campaign to help pay for the new construction is on hold until a contract for the land has been signed, according to YMCA officials. Donations are expected to cover roughly $10 million of the total price tag.