The village council Monday night took a step toward purchasing the home at 415 Circle Ave., which would then be demolished in favor of constructing a parking lot to help ease the parking crunch on Madison Street. But a couple of hurdles remain before the deal can be completed.
First, the village and the owner of the two-story rental home, Forest Park National Bank and Trust President Jerry Vainisi, must agree on a purchase price, which they have yet to do.
“At this point in time we have not agreed on a price yet,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said. “This is just a strategic move if we can agree on a price.”
A state grant that is expected to cover the bulk of the purchase expires at the end of this month. It was that looming deadline that prompted the commissioners to take this preliminary step.
To beat that deadline, the council unanimously approved on March 10 a resolution declaring its intent to use the $300,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity toward the acquisition of property, for the purpose of providing parking. According to the terms of the grant, $255,000 can be used to purchase property and $45,000 is to be used toward engineering services.
But there is one more hitch.
The state has yet to fund the grant.
“The state Legislature has not appropriated the funds for this grant,” Village Attorney Mike Durkin told the council. “Everything is contingent on the Legislature appropriating the money. The lion’s share of the grant is a promise that hasn’t come to fruition.”
Calderone said the village has been working with Rep. Kimberly Lightford, 7th District, to get the funding approved, but like most of the state’s capital budget, the grant has fallen victim to the wrangling between lawmakers and Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Village Administrator Michael Sturino said the village would try to make any agreement with Vainisi contingent on the full funding of the grant, but that remains a subject of negotiation.
Commissioner Mike Curry said he has done a survey of his own on the village parking lots on Circle Avenue both north and south of Madison Street and said that additional parking is needed more on the north side of Madison Street rather than the south.
“I would hope we would look north of Madison because that is where the need is,” Curry said. But Curry said after the meeting that if no suitable property is available north of Madison Street he would support the purchase of 415 Circle Ave., which is immediately south Madison Street on the west side of Circle Avenue.
The purpose of Monday’s vote, said Calderone, was to preserve the municipality’s ability to use the grant if the village and Vainisi can agree on a price.
“This just positions us so that if all the other components fall into place we’ll be positioned,” Calderone said.