Oak Park to snatch up 'key' property in village's downtown

Purchase could help create new north-south 'Station Street' just west of Marion


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

For the first time in five years, Oak Park Village Hall is purchasing a piece of property, which is located in the "heart" of the village's downtown.

Local elected officials gave their blessing Monday, for Oak Park to purchase a two-story office building at 1133 Westgate. Village President David Pope said buying the building will help village hall control future development in downtown Oak Park.

"For us to have an opportunity to control this parcel, and to have an influence over what ultimately happens in the prime real estate location in our downtown, seems not only sensible, but mandatory," Pope said.

The current owner of the property, Dr. Lou Ivanovic, approached the village about selling last year, and again in early 2011. He had considered moving his practice from River Forest to Westgate, but instead is setting up shop at a location on North Avenue near Belleforte.

Oak Park plans to pay $965,000 for the office building, which Ivanovic bought in 2007 for $1 million. An entity called SPA Inc. has a contract to purchase the building, which it signed in August, but instead the corporation is assigning the contract to the village. Oak Park is using tax increment financing dollars to make the purchase, putting $52,233 down as earnest money.

Trustees spent less than 20 minutes discussing the deal, voting 6-0 in favor of it. Village hall spent some $7.6 million to purchase other nearby properties in 2006, and another $1.45 million to rip the structures down and put up a parking lot.

Pope said Oak Park's downtown master plan, completed by a consultant in 2005, identifies that giant block of land as the key site to be developed in the village's downtown. And 1133 Westgate is right in the center of that site. Also identified was the possibility of creating a new north-south "Station Street" between Harlem and Marion to help ease congestion along Lake Street.

Trustee Adam Salzman said he agreed that the property purchase is "strategic" but said he didn't want his vote taken as a wholesale endorsement of the existing downtown roadmap.

"In general, I've become less supportive of applying a 2005 plan to a 2011 economy," he said. "I do think that approach needs to be evaluated and talked through at this point."

Trustee Glenn Brewer said he, too, agreed with the motives behind purchasing the building, but held off on criticizing the 2005 plan.

"There's a lot that went into that process, and before we throw it out the window or call it flawed, I think we need to revisit it and study it to make sure that the elements of the plan that are there actually were designed to be useful in a variety of economic situations," Brewer said.

Village Manager Tom Barwin said the board will gather next Monday to hear a presentation on the downtown master plan and what's left to be implemented. A couple of years back, Oak Park picked Chicago-based Clark Street Development to build something new on those downtown parking lots, between Lake Street and North Boulevard east of Harlem, but the project stalled when the economy tanked.

Barwin said that trustees will also soon hear a presentation by Clark Street on its visions for the key downtown site. Oak Park will also solicit proposals from developers who are interested in building there, as is required by TIF laws.

Oak Park has gradually tried to get out of the property ownership and management business since Barwin joined the village five years ago. They've sold off 10 pieces of land since then, he said, with hopes of unloading a few more in the near future.

But Barwin said acquiring 1133 Westgate was "key" to redeveloping the "Colt superblock." It's still undecided whether Oak Park will rehab the Westgate property, build in its place, or use the land to pave a new street.

"Despite that wavelength to divest and minimize our real estate portfolio, there are still going to be occasions from time to time where any community that's serious about economic redevelopment is going to have to do an acquisition," he said.

Reader Comments

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Posted: September 18th, 2011 11:31 PM

I know Dick Cheney. Sir, Milstein is NO Dick Cheney.


Posted: September 18th, 2011 11:23 PM

Election advice from a Dick Cheney supporter?


Posted: September 18th, 2011 9:14 PM

Anybody BUT Milstein!!! Please

Got Milk from Oak Park  

Posted: September 18th, 2011 12:08 AM

Jim Coughlin and j.oakpark, I'm glad that you both do recall the incident very well and know it was under handed and it the mess was washed away. It's not only the board that needs to be changed, it's also the management, if nothing else, just based on how the taxpayers where handed another waste of money. But change is tough, and people the management and board know that.


Posted: September 17th, 2011 5:44 PM

@Got Milk: I remember the people soft scam today, just as I did the time I voted against David Pope in the last election. I will remember it in every election in which DP and any VMA candidate runs. Sorry Gary, if it hurts your feeling that my vote was cast for you as an objection to DP.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 17th, 2011 5:37 PM

The consultant was hired on the recommendation of the CFO and a $25,000 contract was approved by the trustees. Barwin and Lesnor later came up with a scheme to continue paying the consultant by issuing a series of checks that were just pennies under the $25,000 limit. That enabled them to avoid having to seek to board approval. Taxpayers got stuck with a $250,000 bill. Barwin, a former law enforcement officer, brazenly claimed he was ignorant of the law and the trustees bought that excuse.

Got Milk from Oak Park  

Posted: September 17th, 2011 4:42 PM

Does anyone recall when the consultant was paid checks under the minimum required for board approval? Was that deceptive or just good management to get things done? Of course the consultant never resolved anything, the CFO was friends with the consultant and the pay checks went through Barwin, but all is forgotten, so lets forget this too, and move along to the next surprise for taxpayers. LOL


Posted: September 17th, 2011 3:43 PM

And don't elect me, either.


Posted: September 17th, 2011 3:05 PM

Whatever happens...Please do not elect Milstein to any elected seat.

Oh I wish I were an investigative reporter  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 5:20 PM

Interesting stuff

Dave from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 4:47 PM

Gary Schwab, profile in courage. Thank you for some light on the junta of insider dealing on whatever VMA arrogantly decides is good for us. Like a lot of villagers, I didn't realize how dark and creepy it all was until they decided to put a CHA-like housing project in my neighborhood without caring what any neighbor thought. I'm happy to lose in a Democratic process,not to slimy dictators and this their propoganda machine. No one should kid themselves that anything is liberal in Oak Park.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 4:09 PM

Gary - "If you'd like the whole gory history, let's get together in person sometime." I'd enjoy having a cup of coffee with you. We have met before but I don't think we have ever spoken. I found the information you provided on the VMA to be extremely helpful. It confirmed some things I knew or thought and provided fresh material that I was unaware of. Thanks for being so forthright. We need more of that in OP.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 1:31 PM

The purging of the VMA membership was done by the Executive Committee wthout any vote. Many members were simply not invited to future activities. I'm sure a "purged" person could rejoin, but only at the cost of disavowing any unwelcome opinions. For years I defended the VMA, explaining that it wasn't really controlled by a clique. As in so many cases, the organization managed to become its own stereotype in the face of criticism.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 1:25 PM

As most recent VMA President, I was an ex officio VMA board member. At the first meeting after the election, several board members accused me of being a traitor and part of an impossibly complex conspiracy to sabotage the VMA. I walked out and went looking for another group through which I could participate in Vilage politics. If you'd like the whole gory history, let's get together in person sometime.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 1:19 PM

John: REDCOOP formed around development issues. Quite a few REDCOOP supporters joined the "open" VMA selection process. The VMA "old guard" saw this as a threat and simply dropped from membership anyone they thought suspect. The next time, their selection process was essentially by invitation only (and much smaller). David Pope ran as an independent, saying he didn't think the VMA process was valid.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 1:14 PM

James - Nice to hear from the lunatic fringe suggesting I'm nuts. Are you perhaps fond of hallucinogens? Please cite ONE fact I've distorted. Some NLP Trustees were pilloried, ridiculed, and marginalized by "your" side from the outset. Some simply let ambition and desire to "fit in" take precedence over principle. In any event, I didn't pick them. I helped set up a democratic, messy process which did. This was in response to the VMA closing their historically open selection process,.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 1:10 PM

James - Exactly how many people have been kicked out of the VMA? You say Gary Schwab was. Bob Milstein was VMA once. Don't know if he was kicked out. How exactly are people kicked out of the VMA? Is there a membership vote? Or is it just a vote of VMA officers? Is a kick-out permanent? Is a kicked out member able to rejoin after he proved political purity? Is their a Wall of Shame for those kicked out? Is it open to the public? Do The VMA board give you points for savage attacks? RSVP


Posted: September 16th, 2011 12:36 PM

Gary, truth be told you worked very hard and distorting facts and getting unqualified people elected as a result; unqualified people who made many mistakes that caused them to resign not even 2 years later. You were kicked out the VMA and are still fondly referred to as a troll by most around the Village. You're not on a cross, you're just one of a handful in lack of proper treatment and medication.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 12:23 PM

John: I agree. I had a leadership position with the VMA and was thrown out when I differed on development policies and encouraging public scrutiny. I then worked very hard to assemble a new party which wrested control from the VMA for the first and only time since 1952. I gave of my time and resources to form later slates and run for the board twice. We were always hammered by the WJ. I believe that there is power in truth, but I'm at something of a loss in getting truth out and noticed.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 12:10 PM

I agree Gary, but when we elect them we have to live with them. That does not preclude close scrutiny by residents or even recall, but it does give the power brokers control of the discussion/debate. OP has a history of burying deep any dissent that does not suit them. As long as board control is in a single political units hands, we will never have transparency or responsible leadership.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 12:02 PM

Does fraud have to be involved for citizens to care? Isn't the simple fact that a bunch of people in power get together privately and decide to do stupid things with our money and our town enough for us to demand change?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 11:56 AM

I am not convinced that there is fraud involved. What is occurring is a potential for a conflict of interests and perhaps a serious possibility that the village has with due process and diligence. An alternative is an investigation by the press,but the WJ and Oak Leaves have shown little inclination in this type in the past. So any investigation is likely to come from the WJ Comments, though that is a limited resource, or a non OP entity in the press or government.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 11:52 AM

Cynic that I am, I just can't believe that Utopia will arrive here when enough people flock here to rent really expensive apartments so they can buy artisanal foods, craft beers, and sushi and marvel at the wonders of the new Marion Street.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 11:47 AM

Does anyone believe that there's any effective division between editorial and advertising functions at the Wednesday Journal? Are readers served by blithe tacit assertions that the economy hasn't fundamentally changed and that we just have to wait for gentrification to start up again?

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 11:43 AM

It's a real shame, and a real practical problem for voters and taxpayers when the biggest paper in town decides to be a cheerleader and apologist for the powers that be. On development issues, the WJ isn't so much an observant reporter as it is plain old booster. Who, in these times when truth is so out of favor, is going to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 11:37 AM

I agree that the WJ doesn't do investigative reporting when it might reflect badly on those they support. The PeopleSoft overpayments were first revealed by the Oak Leaves, as was the true ownership of "SPA," even though the Oak Leaves is being crushed by the Sun Times Media Group's problems. As it is likely that the WJ will continue to take a growing share of the shrinking print market, who is going to do investigative reporting?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 9:37 AM

Q - The key statement in your post is that the WJ does not do investigative reporting. I agree with that statement. If the paper does not do investigative reporting, how does it prepare it editorials which theoretically guide the reader in the issues affecting OP. Are the editorials based on hearsay with community leaders? Who else provides insight into the editorial process? We badly need more investigative reporting in OP and your comments sounds like it will not come from the WJ.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 16th, 2011 3:29 AM

This is not as complicated as everyone seems to be making it. First, there is more than the board behind this so it doesn't matter who is on the new board. If you spend a little time, you can figure out how things work and why it won't be easy at all to put decent people in place who will spend taxpayers money to benefit taxpayers. Marty and the W.J. are not meant to be investigative reporters.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 10:21 PM

That happened to me, and until the WJ gets smart and realizes that most reputable media outlets require registration for comments, you will continue to get trolls who take your username. Welcome to the club, unfortunately. The WJ seems to benefit financially from all the activity here, so they won't do anything about it.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 9:59 PM

Who are you and why must you pretend to be mwa?


Posted: September 15th, 2011 9:40 PM

this is silly and not theone said they are silly.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 9:27 PM

Last post of Silly Not me.

Epic Putz  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 9:15 PM

Could not agree with you more silly. It's already enough time for more people that shold listen to you.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 9:13 PM

You know that when i put up a comment is not going to be like something i said before. That is why their are enough of those kinds of things that I mean. Okay.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 8:42 PM

Last 2 Silly post's are not I. Murtagh and Coughlin can't get that more than one person can chat on these boards. Even though they account for 90% of all comments on the entire site, there are still more than one or two other persons here to chime in. Now isnt there anything better to do in retirement than constant bickering???? Now that is what I call the golden years! My husband is calling me.

Epic Putz  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 7:47 PM

I agree with silly. we are different.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 7:44 PM

What I ment to say is not what I said. I know I am.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 7:17 PM

Make no mistake about it. I know exactly who I are. And that makes more sense to me than anything you can say. Ha ha ha.

epic lulz  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 7:07 PM

Please, people, ignore the trolls, especially the obscene stalker who recently decloaked, playing the roll of a concern troll. Her job is to close down threads, which she has already successfully managed at least twice in the last month. It's a shame that thw WJ falls for it, instead of simply deleting the obscene content.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 6:06 PM

Eric Thanks for the correction. With the exception of the error you noted, does the scenario ring true?


Posted: September 15th, 2011 5:29 PM

Murtagh and Coughlin. Every town has one or needs one!! Priceless. They will save us all. LoL

Epic Putz  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 5:24 PM

Mr. Murtagh, that scenario does not track the facts as stated in the story. SPA has a contract to purchase the building. That contract is being assigned, or sold, to the village. The village is stepping into the "shoes" of SPA and buying the building direct. SPA is not buying the building and then selling it to the village. Also, sorry Mr. Coughlin but I am not Silly. Always good to see Epic, the ultimate troll who can dish it out but cannot take it, whining about others stealing his/her shtick.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 4:16 PM

Epic, I'd be stunned if David Pope is masquerading as the gadfly. I recall this goofball recently posted comments using a strange ripoff of your screen name. The forum moderator is reluctant to censure posts but expect he'll close comments for this story rather than let the gadfly continue to disrupt the discussion. You are right about ignoring this kind of foolishness.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 3:48 PM

SCENARIO - Vil id's proj op for DTOP w/help of OPDC. Negotiates w/owner on $'s and plans purchase - post TIF mediation. Owner gets bid from other w/ more $'s. Heat for fast sale emerges. OP does not have $'s. Bad time to hit TIF - mediations. OPDC fronts for Vil. Gets rights to buy bldg using private funds (SPA). Bd approves purchase from SPA. Vil repays SPA when timing is right for TIF$ extract. Need for speed drives bldg cost up. Is the deal a prince or

epic lulz  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 3:44 PM

I simply figure that the troll and all his associated sockpuppets is David Pope, and I ignore him, like he ignores the tax payers. If everyone else did the same, there would be no disruption of threads in this forum. I've given up asking the mdoerators to do anything about it. They've proven that they only step into threads in order to protect the well-connected.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 3:21 PM

My name isnt Silly and I'm not married to Harry. I choose to be anonymous on my own choosing. I am glad you choose to use your name. It is a little hard to Facebook verify when one is anonymous. You seem smart enough to figure that out. What will it do for you if you know my real name. Make the bet and I will tell you in person when you pay me.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 3:07 PM

Still no "Facebook Verification" and no explanation why you refuse to drop all of these goofy dubs. Maybe you've got a good reason for taking the easy way out. Please share.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 2:48 PM

The truth is always BROKE. Ha. Thats what I expected out of you. Now stop saying falsehoods and looking silly.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 2:40 PM

Success,Silly! Once again you and your wacky dubs have disrupted the public discourse on this forum. And that's what you are all about. A gadfly makes no effort to engage in the debate or contribute to the discussion. You crave attention and I've regrettably given you some. Regarding that $1,000 bet ; I'm not able to cover it. Living on a pension doesn't provide with any mad money. If I had an extra grand; it would go to a college fund for my granddaughters. Verify with Facebook and we'll talk.

Danny Noonan  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 2:31 PM

Gambling is not allowed at Bushwood


Posted: September 15th, 2011 2:21 PM

Sorry Jim. I'm not Q and I'm not James, and I'm definitely not someone in the Village Managers office. Anyone else that you've accused me of being? You really are clueless when it comes to the truth. take me up on my bet if you are so sure!! $1K Put your money where your mouth is sir.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 2:01 PM

Jim - great line

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 1:28 PM

And "Silly" becomes "James" and then it's back to "Silly". Again, no Facebook Verification. The gadfly must be getting dizzy with all of this spinning. Expect "Q" or some other phoney to surface next and agree with "Silly" and "James"? Check the record,gadfly. I've addressed the board during Public Comment. How 'bout yourselves? What would you say when the Village President asked you to provide your name and address? "I'm Silly and I live in my van."


Posted: September 15th, 2011 1:04 PM

I've never seen him testify or comment at a live board meeting. He does have too much time on his hands.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 1:01 PM

Silly, Coughlin thrives on controversy then says he's just "asking questions". He has no life and lives on the board stiring up the pot of which he has no idea of what went into it but feels entitled to know every last ingredient. Get a life Coughlin.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 12:48 PM

Marty and the WJ were simply reporting what the Village has done. Did you see the word controversy in the article? Anywhere?


Posted: September 15th, 2011 12:42 PM

This is the heart of your problems Coughlin. There is no controversy. Only one that YOU want to create. Get it now? You seem to want to create or find controversy in everything the Village does. Next.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 12:38 PM

I'm interested in hearing from Marty Stempniak on whether he has consider following up his report with additional information that may put this controversy to rest. Has any board member or representative from SPA Inc. been willing to go on the record? It's a done deal but some fair questions still need to be answered.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 12:05 PM

Enuf, Did you vote for any of the VMA members last election?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 12:00 PM

Enur if Enuf, you will not get your answers and the 3 wisemen know that all will be forgotten in a week or two.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 11:30 AM

This is not an issue of 'corruption', but rather one of 'openness and transparency'. Both local papers reported of the involvement of SPA in the village acquisition of the bldg., but the board meeting agenda and discussion excluded this info. Why did SPA have a contract pending last month, while the village was in negotiation for the past year? Was SPA paid for the assignment of the purchase contract? Was the building appraised? These are simply due diligence questions.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 11:18 AM

@Q ... the involvement of SPA was not publicly disclosed by Pope in his overview of the bldg. acquisition at the village board's special meeting. And while SPA is a private business owned by Noll and Gloor, they both serve with Pope on the OP Development Corp. board, and Pope and Noll are on OPRF Community Foundation CommunityWorks committees. The role of SPA in the bldg. acquisition, as well as any relationships between SPA and Pope, are required to be publicly disclosed.


Posted: September 15th, 2011 11:18 AM

Based on the story: A) The "insiders' corporation" had a RE K in place to buy the property. B) It appears that the Village "bought" the RE K the "insiders' corporation" had to buy the property. Possible questions for the conspiracy theorists to ask an actual Village official: (1) "How much did the Village pay, if anything, to the "insiders' corporation" to have the RE K assigned to the Village?" (2) "Did the "insiders" know the Village wanted to buy the property at the time of the RE K?"

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 11:15 AM

Gary - I am sure that everyone who has ever heard the song can relate it to someone or some organization. I was one of those people having worked for years in a major corporation and involved in civic affairs for decades. All I said was that I liked the Dietrich version as well. As far as the song being a factor in OP current events --- no way. We have a serious government transparency problem in OP that has had a negative affect on the perception of Responsible Leadership. Corruption - No.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 10:52 AM

When a deal is pushed through at lightning speed with no opportunity for public input, even though the price being paid seems to be less than a great bargain, and important details don't appear until AFTER the deal is done, there's an unavoidable appearance that someone thinks "transparency" is a bad idea.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 15th, 2011 10:47 AM

Mr. Murtaugh: I know and like the Dietrich recording. I don't quite see the reference to Oak Park's government. Please enlighten me. I like Brecht/Weill, too.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 10:34 PM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park, is the article saying that Martin Noll and Richard Gloor bought the property from Lou Ivanovic, then the money goes from the tax payers who someone at the village is responsible for, to Noll and Gloor, and then they pay Ivanovic his share?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 10:21 PM

(continued from below) - asking if the public trust is secure.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 10:00 PM

Messrs. Noll, Gloor, and Melnyk are business professionals respected in the community. They have a right to privacy for their personal and business dealing as individuals or partners (SPA). All three are appointees to the Oak Park Development Corp., a Gov't Corp. When a private citizen agrees to serve in an elected or appointed gov't position, they relinquish part of the privacy by agreeing to reveal any real or possible conflict of interest. No one is saying a conflict exists - just

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 9:40 PM

So, we still don't know all of the facts, Craig. I've reached no conclusion regarding what transpired. Some legit questions still need to be addressed. The folks involved are well-respected members of the community and deserve the opportunity to set the record straight.

Craig Chesney from Oak Park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 9:14 PM

Enuf - thanks for the clarification, and Epic thanks for the link. Epic I apologize, apparently my friend that I thought was a 100% reliable source on this subject was incorrect on the nuances of this deal. But I wasn't trying to be vague to deceive, I don't have some secret business connection. I left my friend's name out in case they were incorrect. I take the blame.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 8:58 PM

Oak Leaves reports (09.12.11) that; "The village will accept the assignment a purchase contract on the building from S.P.A. Incorporated, an entity owned by Community Bank chairman Martin Noll and Oak Park Realtor Richard Gloor. SPA Inc. entered into a contract to purchase the building from Westgate Medical Center LLC in August. That LLC is owned by cardiologist Lou Ivanovic." Why was this not disclosed when Pope provided the details of the transaction to the board?


Posted: September 14th, 2011 8:47 PM

epic, if community members did own the building, who cares? That doesnt seem alarming to me.


Posted: September 14th, 2011 8:37 PM

If I'm a gadfly Coughlin, then your a retired wanna be. Run for office and shut your hole. I thought you said you don't judge people. There are many people that dislike your style. Sorry. The same govt leaders that respond here are the same ones that would send you a private response via email. Nothing is gained by your open ended baseless accusations and random silly questions. Grow up

epic lulz  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 8:27 PM

@Chesney, now how about providing your sources for your facts? A little less opacity surrounding this entire issue would be nice. Then those of us without secret business connections wouldn't have to make inferences based upon publicly available information.

epic lulz  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 8:24 PM

Everyone can verify the information about "S. P. A., INCORPORATED" at the IL SoS website: <http://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/index.jsp>

Craig Chesney from Oak Park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 6:24 PM

@Epic and Coughlin. You 2 seem to be jumping to conclusions before verifying facts. To elude that there are top business people involved in some sort of back door deal with little information is irresponsible. Epic, how did you get the SPA registration information? Martin Noll is the President of OPDC, Richard Gloor is the secretary of OPDC. I talked to a business leader that would know the facts. I am confident that these 2 were not involved in this transaction as you have implied.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 5:51 PM

Gary - Marlene Dietrich reference was not a joke. She did sing the song and it is relevant. Give it a try.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 5:45 PM

Mr. Murtaugh: Marlene was truly a wonder of her age. I don't think she sang about politicians, an editor, and developers pursuing their own agenda while trying to keep the voters from noticing.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 5:03 PM

It's troubling that it appears a number of questions being posted about this property acquisition were not part of the board's public discussion prior to their vote to approve the purchase. It's possible that these concerns were raised and addressed during executive sessions. I'm in favor of full disclosure and allowing residents and taxpayers to learn more about the decision making process.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 4:53 PM

The Marlene Dietrich version of Boys is the Back Room is pretty good too.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 4:50 PM

That's not been my experience, John. Trustee Johnson and President Pope has offered responses to question/concerns I've posted. I wish there was more interaction but appreciate the fact that serving as a trusteee requires a great deal of time and energy. I can't recall anyone offering them "flashy kudos" but also haven't witnessed any real ax grinding. They usually play it close to the vest.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 4:40 PM

I'm still a Brooklyn Dodger fan!

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 4:32 PM

On a lighter note, for those who don't find current Village actions either amusing or inspiring, I suggest you go to YouTube and search for "Chuck Brodsky" and "Boys in the Back Room." You'll find a funny song which, in places, might remind you a lot of some people we know.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 4:16 PM

Jim -- I disagree again. Village officials post when they have an ax to grind. There posting is so inconsistent that they is nearly useless. Sure once in a while they provide some info when asked, but that is just doing their job. That's nice of them but does not deserve flashy kudos.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 4:13 PM

Jim -- The discourse on a blog is by definition disfunctional. It is the price to play. Even the most bizarre and seemingly useless post gives insight into what people are thinking. My approach is to read only the posts I think are relevant. It's like sorting junk mail from real mail. I am sure that some posters see my name and skip the piece. That fine. No reason to take any comments personal. There is no one in "post" wall that I know personally.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 4:07 PM

Good point, Whut. I guess I should have made it clear that it "good govt's", when the official one is broken.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 3:59 PM

@Manning Peterson- This forum is moderated. Accusations of corruption should be backed up with evidence and not innuendo. It should be noted that on numerous occasions President Pope, Trustee Johnson and other elected officials have posted responses to questions and concerns raised on this forum. Their willingness to participate in the discussion is appreciated and provides us with important information. We should fight the good fight but fight fair.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 3:46 PM

John-We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. I'm not for censoring or restricting a free and open exchange of ideas. That fact that this gadfly uses a endless variety of dubs to post doesn't bother me as much as the continuing attempts to disrupt the discourse. The gadfly objects when someone posts a comment or question that deals with Village Hall decisions or policies. There is a lack of substance to the argument that we should either move or be quiet. How does that add to the discussion?


Posted: September 14th, 2011 3:35 PM

You say, "The WJ Forum is a vital and transparent voice. It is good gov't." A bunch of people posting comments on a private newspaper's website is not government.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 3:00 PM

Jim - I think Silly's challenges to poster is valid and proper. If the forum is not open to all comments, it becomes narrow and biased. As far as Silly's suggestion that I write each person, that is the type of communication village leaders cherish -- private. The 113 posters on this subject have provided useful and important information that the government did not share with us before voting and the press covered inadequately. The WJ Forum is a vital and transparent voice. It is good gov't.

Manning Peterson  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 2:58 PM

@Jim Coughlin Did I say people weren't frustrated? It's one thing to go to a board meeting and express your anger and/or email the board directly, and quite another to anonymously accuse good people of corruption. Last I checked, we are not governed by comments on an unmoderated messageboard, and for that I am grateful.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 2:42 PM

@Manning Peterson- I think folks are frustrated and angry. A number of important questions have been posed on this forum and deserve to be answered. People will become suspicious when policitians appear to be playing dodgeball. Voters were promised better transparency by Trustess Johnson, Tucker and Salzman. It's time for them to honor that pledge and fully disclose all the details. What we have learned so far simply does not make sense.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 2:30 PM

One thing it seems we can count on is that the gadfly currently using the dub "Silly" will find fault with residents who pose legitimate questions or express concerns regarding Village Board policies and decisions. For reasons unknown, the gadfly thinks people are not entitled to an answer or explanation. Rather than join in the discussion, the gadfly chooses to disrupt the public discourse. We should be able to discuss and debate this topic without being bothered and harassed by this gadfly.


Posted: September 14th, 2011 1:58 PM

Sorry to say, but this forum is NOT the right forum to get the answers your so desperateley need. For what? Not quite sure. Why dont you send those people/groups emails directly? Too much time on your hands people.

Steve from Oak Park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 1:34 PM

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, sounds like a duck...

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 12:12 PM

Manning - agree

Manning Peterson  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 11:55 AM

Dear anonymous, signed, and verified commentators: can we agree to refrain from crying "corruption" as our first reaction to every board decision we disagree with? I vehemently disagree with the Board's purchase of this building at this price, and think it's fair and right to ask questions. Not one person now serving us on the board is a "moron", and each shares our hope for a better Oak Park. "Corruption" is a serious, terrible charge; if you don't have proof, don't make it.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 11:39 AM

Silly - I agree with you that we should wait for more information before reaching conclusions, but no information will be forthcoming unless questions are asked.

john murtagh from oak park   

Posted: September 14th, 2011 11:35 AM

SIMPLE QUESTION to the Oak Park Village Board - What was the rationale for approving purchase of the building before the public review of the six year Greater Downtown Master Plan? (scheduled for September 19, 2011 board meeting review)

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 11:34 AM

SIMPLE QUESTIONS to Tom Barwin - Did the OP Legal, Finance, and Planning Departments sign off on the building purchase ? Are those documents available to the public?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 11:33 AM

SIMPLE QUESTION to Marty Stepniak, WJ Staff Reporter - Were you aware that SPA Inc., company that transferred its right of building purchase to the city, was owned by two board members and the general counsel of the Oak Park Development Corporation?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 11:33 AM

SIMPLE QUESTION to Brad Bartels, President Oak Park Village Managers Association (VMA) -- Are Messrs. Noll, Gloor and Melnyk current or former members of the VMA and have they made campaign donations to the VMA for Oak Park elections?

PayMe2 from Oak Park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 11:12 AM

This is an absolute outrage. The current Board has lost sight of reality. Please, buy my house. It's time to leave!


Posted: September 14th, 2011 11:05 AM

Mr. C., I agree. "Silly" is attempting to discredit ANY questions by shouting "conspiracy." All we are asking is "why this?" and "why now?" The answers may or may not be suggestive of something more. The "buy/build it and they will come/excel" fallacies have led all of our local governing bodies to justify massive spending. For instance, all of the Irving parents arguing for the "green space" moved here and have their children attending Irving with out it. So, it's a "want," not a "need."


Posted: September 14th, 2011 10:59 AM

Your questions and the way you all phrase them put the possibility that the board is up to no good. Shame on all of you. Why not find out all your answers first, and then pass judgement. You seem to be the cynical kind and govt is always doing something for someone and not the good of all the people of OP. I disagree entirely.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 10:53 AM

Too many questions regarding how this went down, Chet21. When did SPA incorporate and have all parties involved been identified? Are they involved in purchasing additional properties in DTOP or any other of the Village's TIF districts. I am uncomfortable with what appears to be a deal that benefited insiders.


Posted: September 14th, 2011 10:25 AM

@Silly. Few here are shouting "conspiracy" - other than yourself. But MANY are SHOUTING "Why so much?" and "Why now?" Your the "street was planned" was first "planned" six years ago. Mr. Ivanovic (great guy, btw) bought the property after "the plan" was put together. He first approached VOP last year. VOP has dozens of "plans." Again, I ask "Why now?" and "Why so much?" I'll add "Why this?"


Posted: September 14th, 2011 10:12 AM

The building happens to be in a location in which a street was planned. The same people come up with the same conspiracy theories? Coincidence? I think not!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 10:05 AM

Time for full disclosure. What is the most recent appraised value of the property? When was it conducted and by whom? Did SPA Inc. have prior knowledge of the Village's interest in purchasing the property? Will SPA receive any money for assigning the contract to the village? Did Dr. Ivanovic attempt to sell to the property to VOP prior to signing the contract with SPA. When did negotiations begin with SPA? The fact that well-connected individuals are involved in this transaction raises questions


Posted: September 14th, 2011 9:27 AM

A property purchased at the height of the bubble (2007) was sold today for only a 3.5% reduction?!? Case Shiller records that Chicago residential values have declined 30% from 2007 until today. How many OP "commercial" properties have recently failed to be built because of lack of financing? Is this what happens when you have Bd members from one party (VMA) - with no business/financial experience - playing "Monopoly" with our tax dollars? Reminds me of D97 and OPRFHS. While Garfld Blvd crumbles.

Let's Use the Land! Or Not from Oak Park  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 6:01 AM

Perhaps another parking garage that will be poorly built and falling down after a few years? Or an ill-advised municipal building that's no longer needed after 5 years? Or maybe clear the land and have a hotel developer make unfulfilled promises? Or, let's move everyone out of the area and let it sit vacant? The track record of the Village is dismal...I have no hope that anything productive will be done. Wasted tax dollars given to Board cronies. Corruption at the core.

Pay Me... from OP  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 5:57 AM

If the Village will pay me 95% of the 2007 value of my home, I will move immediately. Oh, but I guess the fact that my last name isn't Noll, Gloor, or Melnyk might be a problem. It's true what they say....some Oak Parkers are more equal than others. (PS -- This is yet another scam being perpetrated on the taxpayers of Oak Park)

epic lulz  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 1:32 AM

There is an "S. P. A., INCORPORATED" registered with the IL SoS. It is located in Oak Park. The President is Martin Noll, the Secretary is Richard Gloor, and the Agent is Gregory Melnyk. I'm sure those names will sound familiar.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 14th, 2011 12:03 AM

When does it end? I'm not cracking wise with that question but do wonder if DTOP will continue to be undergoing some type of construction for the remainder of the decade. What's still left to do? How much public money is estimated will have been spent by the time everything in the master plan has been accomplished? I understand the need to be a thriving central district and that's the long range goal. It just seems that businesses and residents in DTOP have to be experiencing some fatigue.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:31 PM

VMA, we know you're reading. No comment?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 10:32 PM

There is an organization in Palos Heights called "Headlines Salon Spa Inc." Perhaps the name is shortened in business or it the salon's legal name. It is possible that they were planning expansion to OP, bought the building, and pack it in when the economy soured. No other SPA Inc except a realty in Arkansas. Could not agree with you more. If my house had 2007 value, I was be one happy guy.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 10:22 PM

According to the 2005 Greater Downtown Master Plan, in order to accommodate the 500' long and 80' wide new Station St. between North Blvd. to Lake St., the village has to purchase and demolish 5 more buildings on Westgate and Lake St., in addition to the $965,000 1133 Westgate bldg. and the previously demolished $5.2M Colt / 1145 Westgate bldgs. Where is the funding coming from, now that the TIF funds have been spent on S. Marion St.?


Posted: September 13th, 2011 10:11 PM

Why is the village only paying $45,000 less then the 1 million dollars SPA, Inc payed for it in 2007? No other properties in Oak Park have held that value. Anyone know who SPA Inc is?


Posted: September 13th, 2011 8:34 PM

Another issue I have is having quasi historic buildings with NO ONE in them due to the landlord not putting any money into them!! Has anyone seen the parking lots in that area? They are packed-daily. Clearly there is a need for more open space for parking. It may come at a high expense. but it is definitely needed.


Posted: September 13th, 2011 8:31 PM

Last time I checked, if a private person(s) buy a piece of property they can do almost what ever they want in terms of tenants! The corner of Op Ave and South Blvd is such the case. The same is true for Lake and Forest. You can not look to the Village to make owners keep tenants. Its called development for a reason.

Let's name it...FIASCO by PJSLHTB from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 8:26 PM

Whether this building stays or gets torn down and a street gets built, it will always be the "Pope, Johnson, Salzman, Lueck, Hedges, Tucker, Brewer" fiasco in my mind. Thanks for not even considering the needs and priorities of the people who actually paid for it! The Board must be stopped.

Alan Reed from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 8:20 PM

...and the Village spends tax dollars on something that supports some mystical plan they made 6 years ago, but neglects more current, urgent, and basic priorities again. Very frustrating!

doc walsh from wooddale  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 8:03 PM

its a little cuckoo for the village to continue to buy property

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 6:49 PM

The 1100 block of Westgate was incl. on the 2005 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places by Landmarks Illinois: "This 'streetcar suburb' retail district is threatened by a new downtown master plan. ... designed in a Tudor Revival style ... the street has been declared eligible for the National Register of Historic Places ... the proposed master plan calls for a new cross street to slice through the middle of the block, which would result in the demolition of most of the histo

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 6:43 PM

The late President John Kennedy in the early 60's said "To state the facts frankly is not to despair the future nor indict the past. The prudent heir takes careful inventory of his legacies and gives a faithful accounting to those whom he owes an obligation of trust." The 60's are a holy grail to our political bodies. Our candidates run on a platform of Transparency and Responsible Govt, but have forgotten the village's historical values of honesty, openness, and an obligation of trust.

epic lulz  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 5:26 PM

@Mike Risher, fair enough. Back to thread at hand, I'm not sure what step citizens can take at this point. The VMA is obviously thoroughly corrupt and incompetent, but lacking a smoking gun to take to the States Attorney, all that there is left is the ballot box, but people have tried many times to oust these crooks, and the public responds with apathy. I fear we're going to have to wait until someone loses their life due to the corruption before Oak Parkers wake up.

Mike Risher from WJ Web Department  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 4:44 PM

@epic lulz, I would be happy to discuss other options and your suggestion will be taken under advisement. However, I would rather not fill this thread with the inner workings of the website. If you would like to drop me an email at mike@oakpark.com, I would be happy to further discuss any suggestions you or anyone else have on ways to improve the website. Thanks. Mike

epic lulz  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 4:36 PM

@Mike Risher, Thanks for the response. That's an improvement as it makes it 50% less likely we'll lose a comment in progress. But how about just writing a cookie when someone is composing a comment, and then checking that cookie before forcing a refresh?

Researcher from Chicago  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 3:04 PM

To those of you who are asking, but not able to do the research... A simple Google search brings you to Oak Park's website, which has the 2005 plans. http://www.oak-park.us/public/pdfs/Downtown Plan/03.21.05 GDMP Dev Guidelines.pdf http://www.oak-park.us/public/pdfs/Downtown Plan/03.21.05 GDMP.pdf

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:54 PM

Mike Risher - Thanks for the note. No problem -- I understand that tech-fix is a forever on-going part of progress. I am certain the OP world will not go into decline because one of my posts went into space. John

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:39 PM

The Village that keeps doing these things that we the posters disagree with, have names. Using the cover name Village, doesn't identify the people who are responsible for all of the good they do the tax payers. Tax payers are the people who live in Oak Park.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:36 PM

Tom, You are right! They also let Thyme and Honey leave and go to Forest Park as they were going to tear down that building. But wait! The building is still there, EMPTY!

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:35 PM

Ask yourself, if you were going to buy a piece of property, wouldn't you ask yourself, why? But Barwin said acquiring 1133 Westgate was "key" to redeveloping the "Colt superblock." It's still undecided whether Oak Park will rehab the Westgate property, build in its place, or use the land to pave a new street.

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:35 PM

Fellow posters, just the other day, W.J. reports how the village said they are getting out of the real estate business. Wouldn't that have been a better time for the "Village", to say, "Despite that wavelength to divest and minimize our real estate portfolio, there are still going to be occasions from time to time where any community that's serious about economic redevelopment is going to have to do an acquisition," he said. (Barwin)

Tom from River Forest  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:33 PM

Oak Park trustees might be the worst civil planners I have ever seen. In the midst of a real estate recession if not full fledged depression, they buy a property that will not be developed for years, thus taking it off the tax rolls thereby incrementally increasing the tax payers tax burden. Couldn't they have waited until market conditions were suitable to develop that parcel? They could either option the building or use eminent domain. Instead, Oak Park gets another emtpy lot.

Mike Risher from WJ Web Department  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:30 PM

@epic lulz, Thanks for the feedback on the page refresh. While we do want to refresh the page to ensure the content stays fresh, we do not want to interfere with the posting of long and thoughtful comments. Therefore, I have extended the page refresh from 30 to 45 minutes to give you extra time to compose your comments. Hopefully this should be a happy medium between maintaining up to date content, but not interfering with you or any other commenters. Thanks again for the feedback. We are constantly working to make the site better for all of our users.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:27 PM

Mr. Barwin even made a comment that they have not bought any buildings while he has been here too! Guess that means its time to do this! They seem clueless.

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:24 PM

John Murtagh, have to agree with you. I know when Ray was upset about what took place, it seemed after that event, he fit in well with the 3 Wisemen. Maybe he was given something? Offsite meeting? You bet they do. Whatever the 3 Wismen want, they get the boards approval without a problem.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:22 PM

There was a lot of posturing by the board on the tv last night. (Not sure if that is the right word.) They were just going thru the motions. This was a done deal.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:17 PM

"T"-you may be right, but there is another spin on Ray absence. To me, it indicates that Pope was certain he had Ray's vote and had no fear of other members going rogue on the issue. If a rogue vote with three board members appeared, Ray's vote would be crucial. He is a major supporter of new developments and usually leaks opposition before it appears before board. Seems to me that this was a done deal with board unanimity assured in advance. How? Maybe discussed at a summer offsite. Minutes?

Affordable Housing Rules  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:16 PM

Historic building and great access to public transportation. Why not build more affordable housing?

epic lulz  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:15 PM

@Mike Risher, it's not only that. When you're in the middle of composing a comment, and the page refreshes, you lose your comment. How about turning off automatic page refreshes?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:04 PM

"M" - Thanks. That means it would have gone 7-0 if Ray was there.

T from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 2:00 PM

Ray Johnson was the one who was very upset about the software consultant under 25 thousand per check deal and wanted to know what was on Page 3, on Channel 6. He was quieted down by Pope. Maybe Johnson didn't want to be involved in this one.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 1:56 PM

John, I was watching channel 6 last night at the meeting and did not see Ray Johnson there.

Why Not from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 1:54 PM

What a deal for the boy's at the Village. They bought a 1 million dollar building that was bought on the bubble, for 3.5 percent less then the owner bought it for. The seller certainly knew who would buy it for that much. If Oak Park's 3 Wisemen had their way, they would own all of the property in Oak Park. Good work Tax Payer's. You done good!!

Mike Risher from WJ Web Department  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 1:50 PM

@John Murtagh, I regret to inform you, but it does appear that you have detected a glitch in the commenting system we have never run in to before. Unfortunately it appears that while you were writing your comment, the URL to this story changed, which meant our comment posting process was unable to find the article you were posting to, and therefore did discard your comment. I would like to apologize for the inconvenience, and assure you we will fix this glitch as soon as possible. Thanks for your continued participation on our site.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 1:46 PM

Marty - re 6-0 vote, was a board member absent or did a board member abstain? Who was the non-voter? Thanks

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 1:35 PM

I had just loaded a response piece to this comment board when the refreshing of the new article was underway. After about ten minutes the refreshed article appeared and my comment was never posted. Is my post gone forever? I feel it was relevant to both the original and refreshed article. Thanks.

May Sunkl  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 1:28 PM

So, this must be good news?! It seems that Oak Park has plenty of money to over-pay for real estate they don't belong in, and will probably either give away or sell for less than they paid for it. Therefore, there's no reason to increase our taxes since they are swimming in money! Right?! Great! Oak Park, you now have absolutely no reason to ever raise our taxes and perhaps we even deserve a refund for the excess money we've paid in taxes!

Jon Donohue  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 12:27 PM

There is never going to be 'road' built between Harlem and Marion. It is just a ruse so the Board can buy land to give to a developer for $1 to build another skyscraper. Then Johnson will not call it a subsidy when they give the land away. Just wait for the bonds that they are going to issue to buy this land b/c the TIF is bankrupt. Then when the TIF expires is 2018 all of OP will need to pay in the form of higher taxes for the fiscal stupidity of the Board.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:58 AM

Was last night's vote 7-0? If not; who voted Nay?

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:51 AM

These short comments and the occasional opinion piece offer little real opportunity for serious discussion of Oak Park's sorry history of trying to encourage development. I've been deeply involved with these issues, from inside and outside, for at least 20 years. I'd be happy to talk with anyone directly. I can provide or point to documentation for everything I say and let people decide for themselves.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:46 AM

There's a de facto plan for DTOP. It's discernible from what Village Hall does instead of from what they say. It calls for around 10,000 new residents in mostly small high-rise apartments surrounded by upscale retail and entertainment. We've had at least two marketing studies aimed at making DTOP more like "Wicker Park/Bucktown." In reality, such development, while fiscally unlikely, would drive older, less affluent people away.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:40 AM

The Downtown Master Plan is a cruel joke. The Village have used it as justification for all sorts of stupid things while ignoring many of the recommendations. The plan called for downzoning Lake Street to "Marshall Fields height," decided to be 80 feet. This was actually enacted. The Village then worked (and is working) very hard to get a 200 foot building there. The plan included design standards. Whiteco violates almost every one of them.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:36 AM

The downtown Master Plan is available to view. Search on the Village web Downtown Master Plan, you will have to do some looking. This was dated March 21, 2005. The board last night approved moving ahead on this. There was some hesitation with several members, but they feel this must be done. Think they left there brains at the door! There will be another empty space downtown, maybe that's what they want!

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:36 AM

Recent Village Boards never declared anything in DTOP historic. The Historic Preservation Commission has tried to, as allowed by their charter. Each time they have, they've been slapped hard and backed down. The buildings on Westgate were rated as part of an HPC survey about 10 years ago. When this survey raised issues about demolishing the apartment building now under Whiteco, the board said the HPC had acted without permission and declared the survey nonexistent.

Brian Chang from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:35 AM

Here's a link to the village downtown master plan: http://www.oak-park.us/News/Special_Report_Greater_Downtown_Plan.htm


Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:27 AM

Who said anything about easing traffic? Traffic flow.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 11:14 AM

Jim - All plans are available for review. Best way to track them is through the agendas and minutes.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 10:52 AM

"The Master Plan for DTOP". Is it available for a resident to read?

Think again  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 10:08 AM

It would do nothing to ease traffic. Think about it.


Posted: September 13th, 2011 10:02 AM

Buying a building to make a street isnt being in the business of real estate.

Another Heated Bluestone Sidewalk? Really? from OP  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 5:59 AM

Aren't they supposed to be arbitrating the TIF? How many thousands have been lost on that effort (between taxing bodies needlessly spending tax dollars) so far? Sounds to me like the morons on the Board are trying to hurry up and spend before their piggy bank dries up! Don't forget to put another $5 million aside after the building is purchased so that we can have a new decorative street with heated bluestones sidewalks. DISGUSTING. When will we demand this behavior stop?

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 1:21 AM

John Mills - trying to identify the power bases in OP is a challenge. Most of the clout in the village is financial, political, and private. The most important parts of approval processes are verbal and made long before issues reach the board. That does not mean the board members do not participate -- they do. Money and politics are close companions in the village and sustaining power is a daily pursuit. There is a reason why one political organization controls OP,and it is not charm.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 13th, 2011 1:13 AM

Hi Jim - there is no shortage of plans in OP. Some of them overlap with other plans demanded by county, state, or fed government. Some are consultant plans that have not materialized. Some are dusty old studies that rear their heads once in a while. Because plans exist does not mean they useful or when useful -- followed. The Madison Single Housing Proj. was not recommended in any housing plans and HUD/OP studies stated single housing was not needed. Simply put - OP Planning is a disaster.

oak park in my rear view mirror from not Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 11:41 PM

wow, Village of Park again getting involved in real estate, let's see how well they did on that, the bldg they bought, sold, and bought back even more, the Los Cazardos (sp?) bldg, along with others that leave my mind right now. Who's the bad guy in DTOP, VOP or mean old Mr Shaker who finds tenants.....Oak Park, stay out of the real estate business, you prove time and time again you are bad at it

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 11:18 PM

John Mills, as far as I know the Village contracted the services of a consultant to study DTOP and make recommendations on how to develop the area and increase property and retail tax revenues. Based on those findings, the trustees and consultants develop a master plan. Staff is then directed to carry out the decisions. I think you are asking for the same kind of transparency that John Murtagh believes is owed to taxpayers and residents. It should not be difficult to post the full plan online.

Are you kidding me? from Oak park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 10:19 PM

Note to village hall. Stop. Just stop. Stop wasting the TIF. Stop playing real estate developer. Start cutting spending. Start getting back to your core mission. That's right..can you tell me what that is again?

unload neglected properties  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 9:30 PM

This seems like a strategic move for that area of OP. How about unloading the properties on Madison St. that we have owned for many years- and forcing Foley Rice to sell the old car dealer. We loaned money--- foreclose now........! Maybe make this purchase contingent on a plan to resolve other long owned properties.

John Mills from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 8:25 PM

Jim Coughlin, and anyone else who might know, who really comes up with this stuff? It couldn't be just a group of people getting together, looking at each other over donuts and coffee, saying, "What's Next?", could it be? Is it really people employed by Oak Park, who comes up with the ideas and then gives them to the board? Can anyone start using names of board members or employees who do this stuff so more of us will know who is doing this stuff instead of using, the Village?

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 7:57 PM

Well It looks like a done deal! Why did they go thru the process of calling it Historical property then if it was planned all along to remove some of these buildings? How Stupid!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 7:20 PM

John, I've heard the trustees refer to a Master Plan for DTOP but am not sure about all of the details. It would be useful if this plan were posted on the VOP website. I agree with you that residents and taxpayers should be able to examine these long range and ambitious plans for our community.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 7:11 PM

Gary, I'm going by what this board of trustees has stated publicly. All have promised that addressing the need for affordable housing is a top priority, If this development plan has designs for residential use, then the board will have a wonderful opportunity to honor that commitment. The location would be ideal and provide outstanding benefits and opportunity for people who would want to remain in Oak Park but are unable to find affordable rents and accesible housing.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 6:25 PM

Jim Your post would be a lot more encouraging if it did not contain the words "Sounds Like" and "May Provide". On the night of the vote after only hours of public awareness, it seems to be meaningless to spend time trying to ferret out the good intentions of village. Transparent and Responsible Leadership does not allow for the elected putting the voters in speculation mode two hours before a vote. The voters have a right to know the entire plan, not just vague pieces they choose to feed us.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 6:19 PM

Jim - I do not believe that this board, or any recent VMA Trustees/Presidents have EVER seriously proposed building ANYTHING besides dense housing for the VERY well off and "upscale" retail Downtown (except for the "upscale" hotel). They pay faint lip service to economic diversity while doing as much as they can to exclude people of moderate or lesser means. By excluding the poor, they reduce other forms of diversity as well.

remember this vote  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 5:51 PM

Test of true colors for Trustees John Hedges, Robert Tucker, Adam Salzman and Glenn Brewer.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 5:47 PM

Village Board ... question. In terms of economic costs, what is the cumulative and proposed loss of downtown businesses, employees, property taxes, sales tax and ranked historic buildings, due to your village planning policy of demolition and replacement, relative to the resultant vacant lots, surface asphalt parking, and proposed streets? Please provide costs in context of village budget an vision plan. Will be at village hall tonight listening for your answer.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 5:45 PM

Future development of the area sounds like a mix of housing and retail is being planned. This may provide the board a real opportunity for the trustees to address the affordable housing needs in the community for seniors, persons with disabilities and the working poor.

mv113 from op  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 5:38 PM

What are the recall rules for Oak Park. It's time for this group to go.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 5:35 PM

Here's an idea. Get the RR to remove the train bridge and move it to Madison. The Metra passengers can then see the stores on Madison, we save money on the thinning the road. Then relocate that Mills Park and senior housing (we don't need senior housing - Madison Housing Proposal Plan Commission Report.) That will leave a huge path from Lake to Madison to create Pleasant Valley(PV) a Kitchy Shopping Center with hi-rise parking. Then annex PV, give them our gov't, and start OP all over.

Historic Preservation from Oaki Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 5:27 PM

The Downtown Sub-Area Plan Committee, chaired by Bob Tucker and voiced by committee member Vince Michael/LPCI, publicly stated that the Colt Building and 1145 Westgate may be sacrificed so as to preserve the remaining historic Westgate district buildings. Now 1133 Westgate is being proposed by the village for demolition. What say you Trustee Tucker?

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 5:14 PM

I've long said that one way to alleviate parking and trafiic problems Downtown is to keep tearing doen occupied buildings until everyone goes away.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 5:09 PM

The village has sufficient TIF funds only for bldg. acquisition and demo, but not enough for the proposed street construction. This site will be added to the ever-expanding surface parking lot located in the heart of DTOP and the vacant lot at Lake & Forest. This will be the 5th historic building demolished by the village in DTOP in recent years. 1133 Westgate is ranked as Significant by the OP Historic Preservation Commission, and is part of IHPA's endangered historic Westgate District.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 5:02 PM

Since the purchase will be made using TIF funds, is the board still required to discuss all aspects of plan in an open and public forum?

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 4:49 PM

Dr. Brackett owns the building. I use to work in a dental office there. When I was there they made a big stink about the buildinghistorical issue, now they want to take this down, where are all the medicaldental offices to go? What is this Board thinking!


Posted: September 12th, 2011 4:39 PM

Traffic flow people. Hello. Have you driven in that area? This makes tons of sense.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 4:05 PM

1133 Westgate was rated "Significant" by the Historic Preservation Commission in the DTOP survey that was published and then,in truly Orwellian fashion, declared non-existent by Village Hall. I believe I still have a copy, unless it's just something I imagined.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 4:00 PM

I suppose the Village might use TIF money to buy the building and find other money for demolition, but this would still be an attempt to skirt the law. In any event, the purchase to advance development schemes that no longer make any sense is really stupid.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 3:57 PM

This appears to be another attempt to use TIF money to demolish, even indirectly, a building eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This is technically illegal now in Illinois, although, in the case of other nearby buildings, it was allowed because the Village deemed the buildings unsafe (due to neglect and their premature partial demolition). 1133 Westgate is clearly not about to fall down or become unusable; it's occupied and paying taxes.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 3:11 PM

Asked and answered! Thanks for the info, Marty.

Marty J. Stempniak from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 3:04 PM

@Jim: The money is coming from the downtown TIF district.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 3:00 PM

You may be right, Epic. I do wonder how much is actually left in the DTOP TIF fund. The board will want to spend that money before this TIF expires.

epic lulz  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 2:56 PM

Jim, I think this has left us all speechless. My guess is the money is coming from the all purpose slush fund, the TIF.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 2:47 PM

Key word missing from my comment. Where is the money coming from to purchase this property?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 2:44 PM

Where's the coming from to purchase this property?

RichF from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 2:37 PM

Once they have the property on Westgate for the north south street are they then going to purchase the properties on Lake Street to complete the street? Those properties are occupied by businesses that seem to be doing OK.

RichF from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 2:32 PM

Why, after all these years, is a street needed through there?

Jg Morales  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 1:53 PM

I do hope they don't plan to tear it down. Why not use it to house... all the other services that supposedly need housing? I think the building has character. I'm not sure if this is the same building, but I remember the magic shop and first little health food store in that area, way back when I was little. Nasty peanut butter with no sugar and a device that turned my dad's paper money into actual paper. =-)

LOL from Anywhere  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 1:48 PM

Oak Park taxpayers, LOL!! If you keep all of the people involved in this and all the other things they do, then it will continue. Oak Park is an educated bunch of people. LOL By the way, the W.J. reported that the Village is getting out of the real estate business. LOL. Barwin's home sells less than paid for, and this property will sell for more than it's worth. LOL

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 1:44 PM

Which commission reviewed and approved this purchase? Also, why are staff and board members readily available on meeting nights to discuss bees, trash contracts, crosswalk art, etc., but are missing today. Sounds like the lid is slammed shut on this one. This type of wheeling dealing is the exact opposite of the trustees' campaign promises of Transparency and Responsible Leadership.

scott from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 1:29 PM

I would think the empty Chase/Mancinis buildings on lake street would be a better fit for the village.

Jim from Oak Park  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 1:24 PM

Does the Village Board realize it isn't April 1?


Posted: September 12th, 2011 1:21 PM

Good idea! It's not like we need money to re-do the sewers in NE Oak Park.

epic lulz  

Posted: September 12th, 2011 12:55 PM

Hurrah! Less buildings and more pavement!

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