The item that led to the most discussion at the April 12 virtual River Forest Village Board meeting was not on the agenda — although it was expected to be.
An update on the proposed development at the southwest corner of the intersection of Lake Street and Lathrop Avenue was on the agenda posted April 8 but pulled April 9, leaving residents and trustees confused, disappointed and upset.
Village President Cathy Adduci explained that the item was pulled because “We didn’t give the developer enough time,” but Trustee Patty Henek called the action “unacceptable,” noting that the update was agreed to in March.
“This is a very serious issue in the community,” she said, adding that she felt it was “very unfair to residents” to pull the update from the agenda.
Two of those residents, Margie Cekander and Phyllis Rubin, questioned the action during the public comment portion of the meeting, noting they are still without answers to questions about the project that concern them.
Specifically, Cekander asked about the remediation of contaminated soil at the site and Rubin wanted to know sales figures.
Trustees Katie Brennan and Erika Bachner also expressed displeasure with the action.
“We need to have more and better information,” Brennan said.
The proposed five-story, mixed-use development was approved by the village board in 2016 but terms of the approval were amended in October 2019 due to delays involving the departure of one of the site’s previous tenants.
Under the amendment, the deadline for submitting the permit application was changed from June 17, 2019 to Dec. 15, 2019; for beginning construction from Dec. 17, 2019 to May 1, 2020, or 30 days after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency approves the remediation action plan for the project, whichever is later; and for completing the project from June 17, 2021 to Nov. 1, 2021.
“We’re continuing to make progress,” Adduci said. “I still strongly believe it will be developed.”
When Henek questioned the feasibility of completing the project in six months when ground has yet to be broken, Adduci responded by saying, “Right now the contract is not in default.”
Lisa Scheiner, acting village administrator, responded to another of Henek’s questions by stating that six contracts for units have been signed and another is pending.
Adduci defeated Henek in the race for village president in the April 6 election.
Henek asked that a “full update” be presented at the Monday, April 26, village board meeting. Brennan agreed, adding a request that the update be available even earlier since “There are so many different pieces.”
This story has been changed to clarify Cathy Adduci’s response to Patty Henek’s question regarding the feasibility of completing the Lake-Lathrop project prior to the Nov. 1 deadline.