Frimark Prefers Napleton Over Taxpayers


According to an article in yesterday’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate(“Mayor: Prefers pursuing police station for Busse and Greenwood,” September 11) , Park Ridge Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark is once again trying to stick Park Ridge taxpayers with the former Napleton property on the southwest corner of Greenwood Avenue and Busse Highway now that his buddy Bill Napleton has no use for it.  And maybe paying a premium price for it to boot.

Frimark reportedly was “really encouraged” that the City’s Public Safety Committee – two/thirds of which is comprised of Frimark alderpuppets Don Bach (3rd Ward) and Jim Allegretti (4th Ward) – wants to move forward on a new police station.  The mayor claims to favor the Napleton site because it’s next door to the Public Works Service Center, which apparently wasn’t a factor when he wanted the City to buy the current School District 64 headquarters on Prospect, or the American Insurance building at 720 Garden, or the parking lots near the AT&T building.

But back then, Napleton wasn’t trying to dump his property.

At least Public Safety Committee chairman Frank Wsol (7th Ward) was outraged by Frimark’s attempt to put taxpayer dollars into Napleton’s pocket, even if he waited until Frimark left the meeting before expressing his displeasure.  Wsol rightly accused Frimark of “playing games” with yet another potential cop shop site.

Unfortunately, that’s the only kudo Wsol has earned on the new police station issue. 

Despite his slam on Frimark’s game-playing, Wsol – along with Allegretti – did a little game-playing of their own, refusing to disclose Napleton’s asking price for the property other than to call it “outrageous” and say that it was well above what Napleton had paid for it within the past year. Why the big secret, gentlemen? 

And new City Manager Jim Hock didn’t exactly cover himself with glory, either, revealing that the City had the Napleton property appraised but refusing to say what that appraised value was.  Welcome to membership in the Culture of Secrecy, Mr. Hock.   

But back to Wsol, a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative who drank the Kool-Aid on a big new multi-million dollar police station two years ago when he was locked in what looked to be a tough re-election fight with Frimark tool (and former Park Ridge cop) Bob Kristie.  After supporting a new cop shop four times the size of the current one while battling Kristie, however, Wsol now wants the City to buy whatever it can get for a $16.5 million bond issue.

That $16.5 million “magic number” is just a calculation of what would make the annual debt service payment on a new cop shop about $1.4 million, slightly less than the $1.67 million annual payment the City has been making on the expiring 10-year bond issue used to build the Public Works building.  But because the new bond issue proposed by Wsol will extend over 22 years instead of just 10, the taxpayers will get hit with millions more dollars in interest payments over the bond’s lifetime.

Worse yet, Wsol came up with this plan without ever having asked, or having received an answer to, the most fundamental question about any new, bigger police station: How much safer and more secure will we be for each additional million dollars we spend on it?  Nobody in favor of a big new cop shop wants to even address that question.

So while more and more Park Ridge homes go into foreclosure and while the City keeps raising our taxes but still can’t pave our streets, fix our curbs, keep our homes from flooding and do the many other things that it should be doing, Wsol wants to lock us into a new 22-year, $16.5 million-plus bond issue for a new police station that may not make us any safer or more secure than the current one.

That’s not fiscally conservative, Ald. Wsol.  That’s fiscally irresponsible. 

21 comments so far

No one following this should be shocked. But the people of Park Ridge should, like Alderman Wsol, be outraged at this development. The story in the HA and your headline say it all: in perusing the purchase of outrageously priced land owned by his friend and political campaign contributor, Bill Napleton, Mayor Frimark is sticking his finger in the collective eye of the Park Ridge community.

If the Mayor succeeds at his pursuit of this folly then the Park Ridge taxpayers are sure to be saddled with a new long term and significant debt that will be a heavy burden as far as property taxes are concerned. How much? Who knows? But certainly the Mayor doesn’t and that’s just one problem. And this whole thing is indicative of the Mayor’s disregard for the “common” citizen in Park Ridge and his preference for keeping his friends and political contributors comfortable and happy to the detriment of us citizens.

That Wsol, Hock and the others cannot and will not disclose what outrageous price Napleton seeks for the property or what the city got as an appraisal is troubling. (BTW… who paid for that appraisal? You and me folks!) But, again, this is not a shocker. Watchdog has long derided the “Culture of Secrecy” so who can be surprised that these guys allow it to continue unabated… it just seems to be part of the DNA of too many involved in running the city’s operations.

I’ll let others poke at Wsol’s $16.5 million police station plan but like many, I am not convinced we need a whole new police station and I am certain that as taxpayers we do not need to saddled with another 15 to 20 year obligation as the economy struggles and taxes take a bigger and bigger bite out of people’s bank accounts on an ongoing basis.

Let me make sure I’ve got this right. They get an asking price from Napleton that they say is outrageous but they won’t disclose it. They say the asking price is a lot more than what Napleton paid for the property, but they won’t state what he paid for it, either. And the City gets an appraisal of the property but won’t disclose that.

Something stinks. And like a fish, it stinks from the head on down – so I guess the worst smell is Frimark. What a rotten government.

It seems from the Recorder’s web site that a deed in trust was recorded in August of 2007, and the tax stamps on that deed indicated the value of the transaction was $3 million. That is a little more than the $650,000 paid for the vacant house behind City Hall or the $0 dollars paid in recent memory for the old public works building, which is still owned by the City.

Oh, and by the way, the answer to the question on cost vs safety is it is a red herring argument. We currently have a station that is too small for the number of personnel we have on the force. That has not made us any less safe, it just means we are asking people who serve and protect us to work in abysmal conditions. Everyone who has looked at the current station knows it is inadequate. So we have to fix it. We will achieve some efficiencies and improved capabilities, such as better interrogation rooms, better evidence processing facilities, better and more secure prisoner transfer facilities, etc., but the cost of the facility will not correlate to a change in our safety or the diligence and skill with which our police serve us. Never has and never will. Asking the question is just a way to distract the discussion from the issue of how to fix the problem of inadequate facilities which the police now have.


Friendships go both ways – Bill Napleton could give the city a great value on the land, and follow the fine example of giving back to the community shown by

To: anonymous on 09.12.08 9:58 am.

If government measured everything by cost v. benefit, we wouldn’t have so much of our money wasted by self-serving bureaucrats and politicians. The reason nobody on the police force or in city government wants to do cost v. benefit with the new police station is because they know you can’t justify the new station that way. So people like you call cost v. benefit a “red herring.” Nice try, but that’s a bunch of baloney.

And you can cut the crap about “abyssmal conditions” becuase there’s nothing in Park Ridge that qualifies as “abyssmal” – except for the honesty and common sense of some of our public officials.

The bureaucrats and politicians have neglected the condition of the station for years, but so has the police hierarchy that was content to let stuff decline so that they could push for a new station. But a renovation could solve most of the problems with the current station, and competent management could solve most of the rest.

If the cost of a new station doesn’t correlate with improved safety and security, then all you’re talking about is another warm-and-fuzzy way to waste the taxpayers money.

To anon at 11:06AM:

I agree. I’m tired of the “We work in a rathole” rhetoric. The police and politicians should renovate what we have and save the taxpayers some money.

If you haven’t taken a tour of the current police station, you don’t know what you are talking about. Even such venerable former politicians as Bob Trisna have acknowledged that the current facility is too small for the current force and more space is needed. You cannot “renovate” more space. You have to add it.

Isn’t there such as a middle ground on any issue anymore. While I am not an expert in this area, considering the age of the facility I can see how it is not just a remodeling issue but a space issue. Having said that, that does not mean they need some 20 mil Taj Mahal.

Are there anymore detailed cost and space plans available for what they have proposed. I would love to take a look at them.

Hello A3:56,

There’s always middle ground, but that doesn’t make it the correct ground on which to stand. Personally, I think trying to determine some middle ground based on hinky budgeting instead of real consideration of physical department needs and/or requirements isn’t much of an effort at finding middle ground, as much as it strikes me as an effort to slip taxpayers a mickey.

That being said, let’s consider the space issue. There are such things as general square foot per employee formulas. However, those are generally applied to office spaces and it’s my personal hope that the majority of our officers aren’t spending a whole lot of their time working INSIDE the police station during their shifts.

That leaves us to consider:

What # of employees do work inside the station?

What space do they need to perform their jobs inside the station (Does a chief of police truly need a 300 to 400 square foot office to do his job?)?

What specialized spaces are needed for OUR police department and police departments in general to perform the tasks of policing?

How will those specialized spaces contribute to excellence (not just competence) in the performance of policing tasks?

What space is needed for officers coming in from the field to perform tasks they must complete inside the station?

Just how many f-ing conference rooms are needed (I say f-ing, because the original space needs study was LOADED with conference spaces both inside and outside administration offices, while claiming an effort to “double up” on space uses, but sure didn’t follow through on)?

All of THAT being said, I deeply believe the current station is crap, and yes I’ve taken the grand tour. I deeply believe those who’ve allowed our officer’s to work in a continually neglected facility (said to be replete with mold, rodents, and bugs) should have their heads mounted on stakes in Hodges Park.

I deeply believe some space should be added.  But I, like you, am not an expert.

But, as you asked, I would sure like to see some real space plans (not just b.s. space studies) before I make any final determination of my opinion on the matter.

Plus they need to expalin why they’ve been in the same place for 46 years and why it’s only in recent years they’ve begun to complain about it.

I’m not sure if I totally go against a new building. But depending on how big they want it and along with the fact they keep wanting an exercise room to go with it, then one really has got to question a new facility.

Also I’m a bit confused about the Napelton property.

Don’t you mean NW corncer of Busse & Greenwood?

In all the years I’ve been around the only thing that existed on the SW corner there was the Hines Lumber Yard property though I seem to recall Napelton, along with the former Olsmobile Dealership might of had some cars stored in that area.


No, the Southwest corner of Busse and Greenwood. It is now owned by Bill Napleton and has been used for parking cars, as you correctly stated. It is next to the Public Works Service Center.

The Northwest corner of Busse and Greenwood (the old Noe dealership) is also now owned by Bill Napleton, and per Mayor Frimark, there is a deal being worked between Napleton and a private buyer.


Even though you claim not to be an expert, it is obvious that you have looked more closely at this then most -certainly more closely then me.

By middle ground I did not mean an arbitrary middle but instead, basically what you said. With a closer look at the cost/spcae/usage(keeping in mind that it is our tax dollors being spent) there has to things that can be illiminated or restructured without having a negative inpact on the gains they were looking for in performance from a new facility.

The conference room issue you bring up seems like a great example of a place to start.

I guess I would say they should sharpen their pencils and see what they can come up with.


I have not been here to know how long that they have been complaining. If what you say is true maybe they were making due the best they could for awhile until they felt they could not make due any more.

When I was in my 20’s I had a car for 10 years. The first 9 1/2 were great. It was the last 6 month that sucked so I bought a new one.

I have done space planning and facility construction projects as part of jobs that I’ve had over the years. I’ve also seen the request for space generated by the police consultants for this project. And yes, I have been inside the current police station.

Here are a few things that are universal:

1. People always ask for more space than they need because they don’t have to personally pay the construction bill.

2. When you ask for a list of requirements, you actually get a wish list back.

3. Someone who holds the purse strings needs to step in and make sense out of the wish list. This means challenging all of the nice-to-have items and determining what is really necessary. This is not an easy job.

On this project, no one is doing number 3.

It has been a while since I’ve seen the space requests, but I remember a kitchen area for the chief, lots of offices, too many conference rooms, too many restrooms, a workout facility, etc. All of these fall in the wish list category, not the requirement category.

For example, the police and consultant say that Indoor parking is required because the sensitive electronics in the squad cars wear out prematurely in extreme weather. There should be a cost/benefit analysis run. Is the replacement cost of the electronics in the police cars more or less expensive than building indoor parking? I have not yet seen this simple calculation, probably because it has an obvious answer. In addition, why do we have so many squad cars that they sit outside in the extreme weather? They should be in use; perhaps we should learn to manage our resources better. I suspect that the real reason that a garage has been requested is so that some or all of the police force can park their personal cars inside while they are working.

I have heard that there is a workout facility in the public works building. Can anyone confirm this? If there is, why can’t the police force use it? If it doesn’t exist, why can’t the police force join a gym like the rest of us?

As to a shooting range – where do the officers train now, and why can’t they continue to train there? Again, where is the cost/benefit analysis?

I could go on and on. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, nor do I expect that I’m correct on all of my assumptions. But I haven’t heard any substantive answers to these types of questions yet, only “the consultant said so” and “take the tour and you’ll understand” and my favorite “it smells like urine” (so the taxpayers need to spend $20MM rather than fixing the cause of the odor?).

Someone in city government needs to step forward and ask the hard questions and demand real answers, not the fluff that we have been getting.

Let’s see, new police station or better sewers? I’d like to hear Frimark tell us how much a new police station would have helped during the flooding.

One can only hope that Frimark and his flock of merry aldermen got water in their basements so they decide to put the money to better use. Unfortunately, all that will probably come of this is some half hearted discussions or maybe a lucrative consulting gig for one of his friends.

To Anonymous on 09.12.08 3:20 pm:

I have never been a “politician,” although I have been an elected public official. I also can’t agree with the term “venerable,” although I always tried to serve the people of this community honestly and honorably. 

I do not recall ever acknowledging “that the current facility is too small for the current force and more space is needed.” During the summer of 2007, however, I co-authored (with Marty Maloney) a letter to the editor of the Herald-Advocate suggesting that IF more space is sought by the police department, consideration should be given to the old public works property now occupied by NICOR but still owned by the city.

As to whether you can “‘renovate’ more space,” I think it CAN be done in a variety of ways, including by eliminating underutilized or wasted space, and by changing the layout to improve efficiency. But somebody actually has to want to consider those options rather than just thump the tub for a new station.

And the last name is spelled: “Trizna,” with a “z.”

anon 9:34 am:

As I sit at my computer with the stench of weekend flooding wafting up my basement stairs, I can certainly appreciate your frustration. I agree that it is Park Ridge governments responsibility, working along with city and state governments to provide us with adequate sewage/drainage.

I do have to point out that your first statement intimating that this is an A or B choice is lucicrous. I am on board that the station issue needs a great deal more review related to space and cost – I agree completely!! But you seem to be indicating that if we would just keep the police in their old station we could take the 15-20 million and spend it on sewers and then what happened this weekend would never happen again. Bullshit!! If you think that 15-20 million would even scratch the surface you are delusional. That would be like trying to put out the Chicago fire with a squirt gun.

I highly doubt the old PW building would be a good place considering it’s a mostly residentual area and it’s such a tight area where if there’s an emergency and they have to rush out of the station, it would be a bit challenging.


How is the area you describe different then the current location? The current station has a residential area behind it. If they have to leave in a hurry headed south or west they have to drive through a residential area. If they go the other way they have to go through uptown.

Just curious.

Does anyone know if the PRPD Hdq., located in a basement, got flooded? More reason to move them out AND upgrade sewer lines.

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