Inching the community another step closer toward a state-of-the-art recreation facility, village commissioners heard from architects and attorneys Monday on the nearly completed plans for the YMCA. There remain a number of approvals before any construction can begin, but the landowners in the deal are expecting those agreements will be approved in quick succession, according to the discussion.
At their Nov. 6 meeting, commissioners saw several renderings of what the proposed facility will entail and were informed that there are only a few minor items with respect to fencing to be hammered out between village staff and the developer. The larger issues not yet resolved hinge on whether the parties will have certain property rights once the project is completed.
The West Cook YMCA in neighboring Oak Park has an agreement with the village to purchase 7.77 acres of land near the junction of Madison and Van Buren. That land would be used to construct a multi-million dollar facility complete with baseball and soccer fields, indoor swimming pools, a gym, conference rooms and other amenities.
Fundraising for that project is expected to begin in early 2009 with construction wrapping up in 2011.
A third party in the agreement is the Altenheim, which operates a multi-unit residential property adjacent to the proposed facility. The Altenheim sold the 7-acre parcel to the village in 2001 with the understanding that certain developments would be prohibited. To construct the YMCA, the Altenheim is waiving some of those restrictive covenants, but all three parties are negotiating new restrictions.
In selling more than 7 acres of land at 7810 Van Buren to the YMCA, Forest Park will retain a roughly 1-acre segment in the middle of the property. This parcel, dubbed the hole in the donut, may be developed by the village at a later date depending on restrictive covenants yet to be settled.
An attorney for the Altenheim, Tracy Kasson, said some of those details are “just about ready to be finalized.”
Village Attorney Mike Durkin said those covenants would need to be approved by the council at the same time as a Planned Unit Development agreement. On Monday, commissioners asked Durkin to begin drafting the development agreement, thus adding to the sense of urgency surrounding the covenant negotiations.
Commissioner Marty Tellalian, who has long voiced his objections to the project, implored his colleagues to acknowledge the “elephant in the room” and pin the YMCA down on how it plans to acknowledge the discounted purchase price on the land. This contract, said Tellalian, has been delayed for months and could carry meaningful incentives for Forest Park residents.