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A resolution passed by the village board at its Nov. 14 meeting gave a St. Charles-based planning and engineering firm the green light to begin developing a plan for use of the Army Reserve Center, 7402 Roosevelt Rd., should it become available for purchase.

The village will use what remains of a $50,000 grant it received in 2009 from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to pay consultants Wills Burke Kelsey Associates, Ltd. to do the planning. Starting next month, Wills Burke and a subcontractor will hold public meetings to discuss the property and what could be done with it if the Army vacates the base.

Presently, Wills Burke is gathering information about the site. It will present those findings at its first meeting on Dec. 5, Village Administrator Tim Gillian said.

Village officials, those on the council, members of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Forest Park Planning Commission, and the public are all invited to the first of possibly three meetings.

“Our goal is to invite the members of the planning commission and the zoning board, and the public to all of these meetings,” said Gillian.

Maps and plans for the Army Reserve site will be presented at the first meeting, too. That information will be made available on the village’s website, according to a letter sent to Mayor Anthony Calderone by Jo Ellen Charlton (a Wills Burke representative and longtime village consultant). That way, the public will be able to track the progress of the project.

At the second meeting, Dec. 19, the planners will discuss what could be done with the property, should it become available. This meeting is also intended to gather input from the public.

If a third workshop is necessary (depending on the findings), it will occur sometime in January.

Basically, planners are going to be studying what shape the base is in, and what, if any future development, could be done – that is, if the federal government parts ways with the land. (Gillian has said that there is currently “absolutely no indication” that the Army plans on leaving.)

The village is acting preemptively, but it considers the project a smart move because the village will likely be in a better position to attract a developer or land grant money, for instance, if it has a plan ready.

The village will also pay Wills Burke, and a subcontractor (Chicago-based Land Vision, Inc.) from the 2009 DCEO grant money, which was intended to pay for a site plan. The grant’s timeline has been extended to April 30, 2012.

“This would fulfill the requirements of the grant, and it give us an opportunity to have something on the shelf if the Army called one day and said, you know, we’re ready to sell that property,” said Gillian, when he first brought up the topic at the Sept. 26 village council meeting. 

As part of the Nov. 14 resolution, the village waived the bidding process (permitted by village code, in certain instances) in order give the job to Wills Burke, where Charlton works.

Gillian said this was a smart idea because Charlton “has an in-depth knowledge of the property.”

Charlton did not return a request for comment about the project.

Moving forward, there are plenty of options with that site, if it were to become available, Gillian said recently.

“It’s possible that the fed would give it to the village. If we knew it was going to be available, we could seek grant funding. We could be co-developers,” he said. “There’s a multitude of possibilities.”