The Oak Park village board did not move ahead Monday night on the development of a non-retail loan program that grew out of a request from Purple Monkey Studios' owner Steve Saraceno for request for help to move to a North Avenue location.
Confusion surrounded whether the issue needed action or not, and was initially glossed over. When the board returned to discuss the matter, Village Attorney Ray Heise further clouded the water for some trustees with different interpretations of what the action was?#34;a new program, or expanded funding for an existing one. Heise said if it was a new program, the item should have appeared as such on the agenda, rather than as an update under the village manager's report.
The Open Meetings Act requires government decisions be made at public meetings where proper notice has been given.
In the end, most trustees were for moving ahead with the program, which might help Purple Monkey or other non-retail businesses in three "Gateway Development Zones" with subsidized loans. The zones are from Austin to Ridgeland on North Avenue, Lake Street and Roosevelt Road.
However, President David Pope was not ready to consider the program, and asked that the board delay discussion until its Nov. 21 meeting.
Developer awarded $181K for shrinking plan
The board voted 5-1 to give developer Alex Troyanovsky, owner of the Bank One parking lot (now an empty lot with a fence around it) $181,000 for changing the design of a proposed project on the site.
The decision finalized a deal made in July as part of an effort to appease neighbors of the project. The money was to pay for the costs of redesigning buildings on the property. John Schiess is the architect on the project.
Trustee Robert Milstein cast the dissenting vote and said after the meeting he thought TIF funds, from which the $181,000 was drawn, should be used only for infrastructure improvements, and that the price was too steep.
"I doubt [the cost of making new plans] was that dramatic," Milstein said, adding that the developer should have conceded the cost.
Max price set on
public works facility
The board approved the guaranteed maximum price for the building of a new public works facility on South Boulevard at $26,069,582. The maximum price protects the village against material or labor cost increases during construction. Total cost of the project?#34;including "soft costs" such as architect fees?#34;is estimated at $29.4 million with another $1 million budgeted for contingency costs. The project will be funded with general obligation bonds, paid by taxpayers over 25 years.
Village wins $350K housing grant
The village will receive $350,000 from the Illinois Housing Development Authority's Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The money will fund loans and grants to low- and very low-income families through the village's Single Family Rehab Program. The new grant will supplement the Community Development Block Grants used to support the program. Officials expect funding for federal CDBG grants to be cut this year.
In a story last week about the superblock, we stated Trustee Elizabeth Brady "crossed party lines" to vote in favor of keeping the Colt Building. Although President David Pope appointed Brady, she has voted with the New Leadership Coalition majority on other issues, and campaigned for NLC candidates before her appointment.
Brady said she and Pope see many things the same way, and discussed that and their differences before her appointment.