In casting the lone dissenting vote against an agreement to sell 7.7 acres of municipally owned land to the West Cook YMCA, Commissioner Marty Tellalian leaned on a series of appraisals that he said leave too much doubt as to the land’s actual value. Now one of those price tags, once touted by village officials as the basis for the selling price, is being called a misstated work of fiction.
At a Jan. 8 council meeting commissioners voted unanimously to accept $4.3 million from the YMCA for the land, pending an agreement on additional terms. That figure, according to meeting minutes and public discussions, was based on an appraisal of the site for $4.6 million.
The minutes from the Jan. 8 meeting, which seem to offer several key details suggesting that commissioners understood the basis for the sale price, was approved unanimously at the council’s next meeting without any changes.
But according to Village Administrator Mike Sturino, Forest Park never received such an appraisal, nor was the figure used as the basis for setting an asking price.
“I don’t believe there was ever an appraisal for $4.6 million,” Sturino said.
To the best of his recollection, that figure was offered as the market value for a larger portion of the roughly 11 acres owned by the village than the 7.7 acres recently sold to the YMCA. According to Sturino, the $4.6 million discussed by the council in open session is most likely 80 percent of the actual appraisal that would have been revealed in closed session. Minutes from that discussion are not available to the public, but Sturino said he reviewed those records and saw clear evidence the value of the land was discussed in terms of price per square-foot.
What’s reflected in the approved public record is a “mistranslated” accounting of what the commissioners actually said. Sturino blamed the error on the village clerk’s effort to include too many details, reasoning that she confused the facts.
“That is the problem when you try to write too specific of minutes,” Sturino said.
At a Nov. 13 council meeting, Tellalian railed against administrators for playing a confusing numbers game. An appraisal of six acres for $5.75 million submitted in August of 2005 jarred with a July 2006 appraisal of 7.7 acres for $5.3 million, Tellalian said. He also questioned whether any supporting documents were ever received by the previous council in support of the $4.6 million figure discussed in January.
Joseph Ryan, the LaSalle Group appraiser responsible for the valuations, said he essentially compiled one appraisal and tweaked the numbers based on new assumptions provided by the village. The amount of land to be sold was constantly changing, Ryan said, which impacts the price along with considerations for density and market trends.
According to Sturino, the 2006 appraisal report for $5.3 million is the final draft of Ryan’s work and is based on a price per square-foot range of $15 to $22. At $4.3 million, the village is selling the land to the YMCA for roughly $12.70 a square-foot.