DOWNERS GROVE – A decision by the Downers Grove Village Council to spend $33,000 to repair portions of the Village Complex roof led one commissioner to criticize the council for delaying plans to build a new facility.
“Unfortunately, I think this is still an example of throwing away good money,” Commissioner Greg Hose said at the July 10 council meeting, “We all know up here that we need a new police station and a new village hall. We’re sitting on land that’s valuable for economic development. But rather than a solution to the problems that we face, we’re getting a Band-Aid.”
Construction prices and interest rates continue to rise as commissioners postpone a decision, Hose said.
“Taxpayers deserve better,” he said. “Taxpayers deserve a fiscally prudent step of unlocking this tremendously valuable downtown real estate to allow us to invest in a facility we need rather than put another Band-Aid on a building that has far outlived its useful life.”
The council last year considered a plan to build 57 townhouses on the western portion of the Civic Center parcel to help fund construction of a new village complex. However, opponents voiced various reasons for delaying a decision.
Construction of town homes on the property would trigger the village vacating both the Civic Center and police station sites and building a $30 million combined facility for the two on the east side of the Civic Center site.
Any proposal to sell village real estate requires six votes from the seven-member council.
Hose, who cast the lone vote against the expenditure, said he understands that the roof must be repaired but “I just can’t support putting additional money into this facility,” he said.
Mayor Martin Tully agreed with Hose.
“I would much rather spend it on greenscape or green technology for a new facility,” Tully said. “I think that would be a better long-term use.”
“The reality is we’ve been unable to convince the totality of the council to go forward with a solution in that respect and so this must be done in the short term to address a short-term issue,” Tully said. “ Once there is someone who can convince everybody to compromise and come up with a solution then we won’t have this conversation again. But that has yet to happen. Until it does, we have to do what we have to do.”
Commissioner Bill White said July 16 that he favored moving forward with the town home plan last year but did not have the support of the council.
White said he'd like to see at least five commissioners support a plan that calls for the village to approach the development community about specifics of a town home project.
"We're a long way from five votes," White said.
The council has also considered building apartments or a medical facility on the property.
White said a decision on a new complex likely will be made after the April 2019 village elections. He added that a developer might be wary of entering an agreement with the village as the council makeup could be very different after the election.
White added that it's unlikely village staff would be able to oversee the village complex project until at least 2019 because they are currently overseeing several other projects.