There is nothing keeping a commercial developer from making a bid to purchase the Priory Campus at Harlem and Division from Dominican University. So says River Forest Village President Cathy Adduci.
Well, nothing except Adduci’s comments to the Journal back in June that the existing zoning on the 7-acre property — non-taxable public and recreational use — was etched in stone. Nothing except Adduci’s clear message to Dominican officials that the green space had to be preserved, that the zoning was clear and that River Foresters wanted it to stay that way.
So at this point, after Dominican hired a commercial real estate firm to shop the property to a very small pool of acceptable users. after Oak Park and River Forest High School and Fenwick High School have already submitted letters of intent to buy the property, it is disingenuous of Adduci and allies on the village board to effectively say, “It’s a free country. Developers, make your bids and we’ll consider them.”
At the last village board meeting on Aug. 9, two village trustees — Erika Bachner and Kathleen Brennan — said the board should consider options beyond the current zoning limits. They asked the board to assign the issue to the village’s Economic Development Commission. Their argument, which is indisputable, is that 7 acres of open land seldom come available in River Forest and all options should be on the table.
Adduci clearly wants this property maintained as open space. We believe she has the votes on the board to make that happen and, based on a lack of any public pushback advocating for commercial development, we believe she has public support.
She should just say that. The pretense that this is a wide-open bidding process is not accurate. Further, Adduci is a member of the Fenwick board of directors. When the topic of bidding for this property was first raised Adduci should have resigned from that board seat. She says now she will do just that if Fenwick is chosen by Dominican to buy the property. That is too late.