Youth Campus Park “Win/Win” Includes Deal On Northwest Park Stormwater Detention


We’ve always been big on intergovernmental cooperation between/among our various units of local government – so long as that “cooperation” is a win/win for each of the units of government involved in the deal.

Keep your eye out for that “win/win” at tonight’s Park Ridge City Council meeting, when the Council is scheduled to vote on the final reading of the zoning MAP Amendment and a number of variances the Park Ridge Park District is seeking for the construction of the $13 million-plus Youth Campus Park (the “YCP”).

As best as we can tell, the Park District has done a pretty good job of designing the YCP to be neighborhood-friendly, or at least as neighborhood-friendly as an 11-acre park facility can be.  According to City Engineer Sarah Mitchell, the YCP design is in full compliance with the City’s stormwater management ordinance for a 100-year rain event – although last month Ald. Dan Knight (5th) and a couple of other aldermen expressed concerns that such compliance be clearly and unequivocally memorialized in writing before final Council approval is given.

We’re still not sure that has been done, but we trust the Council will ensure that’s the case before final approval is granted.

In looking at this YCP MAP Amendment/variance deal, we see a big “win” for the Park District but no commensurate “win” for the City.  That imbalance might be resolved, however, by a suggestion from Ald. Jim Smith (3rd) – if we understand it, which is not always the case with Smitty’s suggestions – that the Park District commit itself to making Northwest Park available for stormwater detention IF the City decides to go ahead with that portion of the Burke flood control proposal that includes such a detention area.

Obviously, the cost of making Northwest Park suitable for stormwater detention would have to be borne by the City, and would have to include a provision for an ongoing City obligation to protect that park from substantial damage caused by water detention.  Unfortunately, it sounds as if the Park District has told the City to pound sand any time such a commitment has been raised, which doesn’t sound much like the “win/win” spirit that’s supposed to be the hallmark of intergovernmental cooperation.

And Park Board members who have spoken publicly on this topic sound far more combative than cooperative.

Park Commissioner/state representative candidate (or should that be state representative candidate/Park Commissioner?) Mel Thillens has accused the City Council of “holding up a process that was politically supported by the [YCP] referendum…for no good reason.”

It’s Local Government 101, however, that while the Park District’s referendum results authorized the Park District to borrow and spend $13 million-plus to build the YCP, it didn’t also require or even authorize the City to grant a MAP Amendment or a bunch of variances from the City’s Zoning Code to enable the construction of YCP.  That’s because Local Government 101 also teaches that the City Council’s job is to look out for the City’s interests and the City’s taxpayers, neither of which is exactly the same as the Park District’s.

And one of the City’s interests that can be linked to the MAP Amendment and the variances sought by the Park District is doing what it can to ensure its ability to construct the flood relief projects that already have been identified as priorities by the Burke study, like the Northwest Park detention area.

So we see nothing wrong with the City’s linking its approval of the YCP MAP Amendment and variances to the Park District’s providing an ironclad agreement to make Northwest Park available to the City for flood water detention so long as that: (a) does not require the Park District to pay for any of the conversion costs; (b) any such conversion will be done with all reasonable expedience so as not to take those athletic fields out of commission unduly; and (c) the City agrees to underwrite future repair of any damage to Northwest Park from stormwater detention.

In fact, the Park District’s agreeing to the detention area as a quid pro quo for the zoning relief it wants from the City is the very LEAST the Park District can do for the City and its taxpayers.

As Ald. Marc Mazzuca (6th) pointed out in response to the complaints from the Park District that what amounts to the City Council’s rightful circumspection and due diligence is costing the taxpayers money: “When you’re spending $13 million of taxpayer money to fundamentally change the land use for an 11-acre parcel, it would seem one extra meeting shouldn’t kill you.”

Exactly.  If the Park District deserves its zoning “win” at YCP, so does the City.  And that should include the Park District’s ironclad agreement to the City’s right to use Northwest Park for stormwater detention if necessary.

Before the City gives its final sign-off on the Park District’s YCP zoning accommodations.

To read or post comments, click on title.

33 comments so far

It worked out nice that this post follows your last post about the ridiculous assertion of SSA’s. SSA’s in Park Ridge wouldn’t be legal and couldn’t even be implemented, but laying it out there for this mayor/council does do them a nice favor of attacking those in need due to the failure of city infrastructure. It’s easy on this blog to think it’s shocking to expect any success from the city of Park Ridge.

Therefore, you lay that post out there, then come back with this “sensible” and “moderate” solution? I believe we call that propaganda.

This city has NO solutions for the major problems the taxpayers are facing:

TIF, let’s beg for help from the other taxing bodies (maybe, but until then we won’t do anything.)

Flooding, let’s beg the solvent park district for help, since we have don’t have cajones or clue about what to do for the last 5 years. How’s the sewer lining working?

And, even the post before about EMB’s. The city can’t even figure that out.

The right solution is investing in a comprehensive 20-30 year plan to improve sewer capacity, while the residents work to protect themselves. Putting an infrastructure failure squarely on the residents is ridiculous. I think it’s safe to expect some level of sewer relief if you live in a place like Park Ridge.

The city government will again find another adversary to be down with OPP (other peoples problems) since they are treading water.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wow, sombody’s Cheerios must have tasted funny this morning!

Are you contending that the current City administration DIDN’T inherit 20 years of infrastructure neglect and a totally boneheaded TIF “investment” from prior administrations? Are you contending that the City should spend the $100 million-plus that mostly 10-year flood control is projected to cost? What “success from the city of Park Ridge” do you expect in connection with flood control? And how does “sewer lining” even figure into a discussion of 100-year flooding (or even 10-year flooding)?

What’s the authority for your “SSA’s in Park Ridge wouldn’t be legal” opinion, especially given that we already have SSAs in town? Your reference to “attacking those in need due to the failure of city infrastructure” suggests the freeloader mentality that seems to afflict a minority of residents who think that because they pay taxes they are entitled to their hearts’ desires, compliments of OPM rather than TOM (“Their Own Money”).

This blog has not endorsed “beg[ging] for help from the other taxing bodies” just because previous incompetent, irresponsible and/or dishonest administrations foolishly oversold and passed a fundamentally flawed TIF, even if those other bodies might have been equally foolish in believing what the City told them.

This blog isn’t advocating “[p]utting an infrastructure failure squarely on the residents.” But residents who are either too stupid or too cheap to install private flood control devices don’t deserve to be bailed out – pun intended – by the City and its taxpayers, many of whom already have spent TOM on private flood control.

Why should the Park District solve the City’s flooding issues? They are under no obligation to do so?

If the City wanted to solve the flood issue why didn’t they purchase the land in the first place?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Why should the City solve the Park District’s zoning issues with a MAP Amendment and variances for YCP? It’s under no obligation to do so.

If the Park District wanted to avoid having to obtain City approval for all those variances, why didn’t it design YCP to comport with the the existing zoning requirements?

Every single administration “inherits” problems of some sort, unless you can point me to where Utopia is.

Don’t people run for office to solve problems?

You ask: “What “success from the city of Park Ridge” do you expect in connection with flood control? And how does “sewer lining” even figure into a discussion of 100-year flooding (or even 10-year flooding)”
Lining figures in because we were sold an expensive plan that really just maintains the stauts quo. You answered your own question. Remember the election earlier this year? It was touted as a partial solution.

Do the elected officials and this editor really believe that an SSA of $72,000 – $140,000 per home would be legal or even feasible? There would be a combination of flight, foreclosures and grandma being kicked to the curb.
Of course not, that’s why the Parks are now the target for bailout.

Is it the PARK DISTRICTS problem that the city didn’t address its infrastructure for “20 years”?
Answer this:
If there were a bunch of homes or multi-family homes, would that be A. Worse B. Better or C. the same for flooding?
The answer is A, so the city should be inherently THANKING the park district instead of issuing threats.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Name even ONE problem over the past 20 years in Park Ridge that is/was as destructive to the City’s finances than the Uptown TIF, which already has cost the City almost $6 million and is projected to saddle it with roughly $1 million of additional annual deficits for the remainder of its lifetime – or a total deficit of $20+ million instead of the $20+ million surplus projected by the Wietecha, Marous and Frimark administrations?

Don’t people run for office to solve problems?

What “expensive plan” of “sewer lining” that “really just maintains the stauts [sic] quo” are you talking about? And what “election this year…was touted as a partial solution”; and to what?

This blog is not suggesting it is the Park District’s problem that previous City administrations kicked the infrastructure can down the road for 20 years, but the Park District has the ability to become part of the solution by doing nothing more than agreeing – in a legally-binding writing – to let the City use Northwest Park as a stormwater detention area, with the City picking up all those costs.

Nice try with the “bunch of homes” argument, Slick, but if the “bunch of homes” on the YCP site came with the same 100% water retention requirement that the City code imposes on the YCP, the City would be BETTER off – because it would get the same degree of water control as the YCP plan is offering PLUS tens of thousands of dollars a year in RE taxes that the tax-exempt YCP won’t be paying.

The PRPD should use this adage when addressing the City Governments threats. “Don’t make your problems my problems”

EDITOR’S NOTE: If the City takes that position with the variances and MAP Amendment at YCP, then YCP doesn’t get built.

Brilliant! You really should be putting your own name on these comments so readers can know at whose genius they are marveling.

Why won’t the Park Districct agree to let the City use NW Park for water detention if the City agrees to pay all the costs? Isn’t that where intergovernmental cooperation kicks in?

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Intergovernmental cooperation” appears to be a one-way street for the Park District.

You are truly outrageous. You and every other Park District leader sat by and let the City run roughshod over the needs of the Park District, including the disasterous relocation of the donated batting cages to nowhwere Oakton, to accomodate the City’s demand that the Park District not make noise around the new TIF-supported condo development. Only the arrival of Ray Ochromowicz stopped the bend-over as SOP. You who excoriate others for the slightest hint of payola said nothing when a so-called alderman openly offered to blackmail the Park District recently. How’s this: The City reimburse the Park District for even half of what it’s already overdue paying on the TIF, and the Park District will agree to let the City solve its flooding problems on the Park District’s back. Unless you’d like to go back to the good ole dayws when intergovernmental cooperation was a one-way street for the City. YOU of all people should know better.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ll take “truly outrageous” over falsely outrageous anytime.

We are big fans of Ray O and wish he were still running the Park District. But we can’t think of one instance where he stopped the City from running “roughshod over the needs of the Park District” – for the simple reason that the City never did anything that needed to be stopped, either on Ray O’s watch or on this editor’s watch as a Park Board member from 1997 through 2005.

Your single “example” of the batting cages (Is that the best you’ve got? Seriously?) is factually and legally inaccurate for all the reasons stated in our 12.07.04 post.

As for your characterization of Ald. Jim Smith’s (3rd) very public suggestion that a legally binding commitment from the Park District of Northwest Park for stormwater retention serve as a quid-pro-quo for the zoning MAP Amendment and all those variances from the Zoning Code the Park District wants for YCP as “blackmail,” that’s just plain silly. The Park District is no more entitled to those zoning concessions than is the City to the use of Northwest Park, so we see nothing wrong with such a trade-off that would appear to benefit both sides – the proverbial win/win – rather than just flowing the Park District’s way. In fact, that’s such an easy-to-figure-out trade-off that we’re on Smitty’s side – and that almost never happens!

Finally, the City should pay the Park District and the School District’s what it owes them on the TIF – while reminding the City’s taxpayers of the names of those City officials who foolishly or less-than-truthfully locked us into 23 years of a multi-million dollar bad “investment” without…wait for it…a binding or even an advisory referendum. Kind of like the current Park Board and its multi-year, multi-million dollar bad “investment” in the Centennial water park.

Hiding behind very standard zoning changes is defrauding your readers. It’s uncharacteristic of this site.

What we have learned is that policies have consequences. Is there any responses or noise from the aldermen or mayor about the home invasions and burglaries in Park Ridge? No, it’s not only unlocked cars. It’s HOMES!

The mayor cuts police staff and who would’ve thought that crime would go up. Maybe the taxpayers should also hire private security detail? Because with this mayor and council, the city has no responsibility for anything. Maybe the whole city can do an ssa for additional police.

It’s easy to cut things,but it’s funny we don’t see emails and posts about the repercussions of cuts.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Zoning changes USED to be “standard” – back when the City treated its Zoning Code like nothing more than a collection of mere suggestions to be disregarded anytime somebody knew somebody else.

As for your Chicken Little routine about “home invasions” (“It’s HOMES!”), we have to question the source of your information – because the PRPD’s report for November 2013 shows no – repeat NO! – “home invasions,” but 3 “Burglary to Motor Vehicle arrests,” 3 “Trespass to Vehicle arrests” and only 1 “Criminal Trespass to Property arrest.”

Are you so disappointed that Park Ridge hasn’t turned into the wild west since the mayor AND THE COUNCIL made cuts in the police staff in response to arbitrary across-the-board pay increases that you feel the need to fabricate a non-existent crime wave?

EDITOR’S NOTE: One residential burglary – NOT a “home invasion” with residents present – committed by two mopes who are NOT suspected of any other residential burglaries.

Definitely a “home invasion” crime wave!

The City cannot — as you ceaselessly remind us — CANNOT pay what it owes on the TIF to the school districts and the Park District. So the only rational solution is to make the City’s use of Northwest Park absolutely conditional on both the rezoning passage and a good-faith chunk of the TIF payment that is already overdue to the Park District. Since blatant pay-for-play doesn’t offend you, here’s a nice literal example of it, eh?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sure the City CAN pay what it owes to the school districts and the Park District – it just might have to make additional cuts OR raise taxes in order to do so. And when it does, you can send your “thank you” notes to Ron Wietecha, Mike Marous and Howard Frimark, along with all the former aldermen that made the TIF a reality.

We always thought “pay-for-play” was done on the down-low, under the table – not openly and notoriously above the table for all to see. But if you want to call this “pay-for-play” then, yes, we’re not “offended” by it.

Thanks for the reference to your Dec. 04 post. Just read it and am not surprised you and your bobble-hed acolytes were willing to cause so much illogic,disfunction and disappointment to save $27K.
You are consistent, I’ll say that for you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t know how much faith we can safely put in the opinion of someone who seems overmatched by the challenge of spelling “head” and “dysfunction,” but pray tell what was so illogical, disfunctional and disappointing about the Park District’s Oakton plan? And where at Hinkley would you have relocated the basketball court, or placed the batting cages?

My! My!

The column seems to have raised the hackles of the OPM crowd, The comments section reminds me of the idiocy that inhabits and rules in Springfield Illinois and Washington D.C. to say nothing of Chicago.

I doesn’t seem to bother anybody that the property could have, really should have, been sold to a developer who could have easily built 30 to 36 houses on the site which would have easily raised $300k to $360k a year in property taxes. Some of that money would have come back to Park Ridge to defer the infrastructure costs that would have been incurred for street(s), water and sewer installation and maybe even to pay off some the TIF money owed to the park district. But no, the park district just had to have a park because Park Ridge doesn’t have enough park space according to the self serving brochure, and others that came before it, put together for last weeks council hearing on the matter.

Of course it’s too late to change the plan but maybe not.

Just maybe the city council will delay the effort until the park district realizes that it’s better to inconvenience some of the baseball playing kids in the Northwest Park area then for property owners in that area to have to spend $10/15K, or more, to have their basements cleaned up and refinished after the next 100 year storm.

But according to most of the comments here it’s just so unfair to drag the debate out! Or is it?

EDITOR’S NOTE: The OPM crowd’s hackles are easy to raise, so we won’t claim too much credit for that.

Overhead sewers can be installed for $10-15K, or less; and check valves for much less. So anybody who keeps on spending $10-15K cleaning up after every 100-year flood we have probably needs to re-think that strategy.

To “My My” it was the voters that decided on YCP. It’s so convenient that you spin it the other way

Guys, it’s not all about the dysfunctional city government.

The city loves OGB (other governments business).

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, the voters decided ONLY on the Park District’s side of YCP – no voters voted on a MAP Amendment or numerous variances, because those are City issues and this was a Park District referendum.

“My My”: Do you really think we needed 30-36 new McMansions in that neighborhood, where some of the higher end houses aren’t selling that quickly and where some foreclosed properties still are vacant? I for one am happy to see some open land being turned into a park. And just because I believe that does not mean I’m part of the mythical “OPM crowd” you love to disdain.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Park Ridge “needs” very little, whether it be “McMansions” OR more parks and recreational facilities. So why not talk about the relative value to the community of the “McMansions” v. the YCP in terms of “wants” or “amenities”?

Anon 609am is alluding to something that proves the anti-park crowd hypocritical.

You will see the same anti-YCP crowd, also BLAME flooding on new homes. You will see them recognizing the old ugly homes in Park Ridge as some sort of special entity. However, now, they are more than happy to pine for McMansions, to make a point to try to bail out the city government.

‘MY MY’ your OPM comments makes no sense. Who’s money is wanted? It seems you want to use developers to make McMansions for others to purchase? The Park District wants to build a park which the voters TOLD them to do.

To legislate correctly, the only question that should be answered is:

Does the MAP amendment (or whatever political excuse is being used as a weapon agains the parks) or zoning changes make this a bad deal or harmful for city taxpayers? NW Park should be completely independent of a zoning approval.

That is the only question that should be answered. Making threats or deals doesn’t protect taxpayers, it protects the mayor/council. Should the Park get EMB’s for zoning? Maybe little baseball club can practice for free now in the PW facility? Hey, bring in Maine Township too. Let’s give them a used car so the YCP can be built. Where does it end?

It really smells of Chicago politics.

Water detention WILL affect the use of assets by the Park District, its customers and its taxpayers. What if it ruins the field? Who pays for that? It’s so easy to use other people assets when you have zero responsibility if something happens.

It’s bad policy and bad precedent to threaten other taxing bodies.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “[A] weapon agains [sic] the parks”? Seriously? Are you actually saying that the Mayor and a majority of the City Council are conducting a jihad against the Park District and its parks, or against YCP?


Please explain exactly how the City making a “deal” on YCP that includes a commitment by the Park District to make Northwest Park available for the Burke-recommended detention area to combat flooding in that vicinity “protects the mayor/council”? And as for this “smell[ing] of Chicago politics,” if this were “Chicago politics” you wouldn’t smell – or see, hear, feel, touch, taste, or read about – anything, because it would all be done behind closed doors, not in the open like it’s being discussed here.

As we have suggested, if water detention “ruins the field,” the CITY pays because the CITY is getting the benefit. But we note that Tam Golf Club regularly floods, parts of it being underwater for a day/two/three, and we aren’t aware of it ever being “ruined.”

Who “threaten[ed]” anybody?

318pm…If I remember correctly, the last time the City Council voted to cut police staffing was about 6 years ago, and I have not vetoed funding for any positions, only for raises. Since the staffing cuts, we have been designated as one of the safest cities in the country. So, I guess I do not see your point.

6:09 So why not talk about the relative value to the community of the “McMansions” v. the YCP in terms of “wants” or “amenities”?

It’s not a matter of “need,” it’s a matter of doing the right thing in terms of being good stewards of this planet we’re inhabiting. I don’t think the PRPD thought we “needed” another park. Rather it seemed to me that they wanted to do what was best for the community in terms of preserving a parcel with a storied past rather than stand by and watch it be demolished and developed to within an inch of its life.

If people think 30-36 homes really would have helped the flooding then I don’t even know what to say.

EDITOR’S NOTE: YCP isn’t going to “help” flooding. All it’s going to do, it appears, is not exacerbate flooding – which, as we understand it, is the same that 30-36 homes on that property would do if the City properly enforced its various codes, except that the City might get an extra $50-60-70K of RE taxes where now it will get…wait for it…none.

But wait…there’s more. Because the City doesn’t always enforce its codes, does it? The City – both the Planning & Zoning Commission and the Council – often seems to give out MAP Amendments, variances, etc. willy nilly, for reasons that even the Delphic Oracle couldn’t predict.

And as for the Youth Campus’ “storied past,” are you talking about its past as a home for unwed pregnant girls or its past as a home for juvenile delinquents? Because we want to make sure we’ve got the right “story” behind that “storied past, don’t we?

Isn’t this all moot? Correct me if I’m wrong, but last evening the city attorney seemed to suggest that Alderman Milissis’ motion to tie NW Park to the YC variances was not supported by law – and 5 of the aldermen, in shooting down his motion, seemed to get the message.

Why not take Alderman Mazzuca up on his veiled threat from last night – let’s see if the City and the Park District can cooperate together to come up with a win-win and, if they can’t, then let’s have the voters decide this at the next election.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes, it now appears moot.

What do you believe the voters will “decide…at the next election”? A do-over of YCP? A do-over of last night’s Council vote? The undoing of the MAP Amendment and the variances?

From yesterday:
Alderman Millisis said “unfortunately the park district is the owner of the most open land in the city” Wow, that’s a revelation. He then goes on to call zoning a “bargaining chip”. So, yes that’s a threat! It’s also absolutely beyond dumb legislating. And Illegal!

Knowing how to legislate is paramount to getting bills through and some in this council have zero idea what they are doing. The hubris must’ve squeezed out any sense they have. Oh, did I mention Millisis is an attorney!

The best description of him and Smith and the others who are using zoning as a threat is: ARBITRARY AND CAPRICIOUS .
I stole those words from our city attorney.

Alderman Maloney then was correct in saying that the park district already helps the city at Hinkley Park, Kalina and with Salt.
Is he the only one with a brain around the horseshoe?

EDITOR’S NOTE: A “bargaining chip” is “a threat”? Not in this universe. Nor is it “illegal.”

As for “getting bills through,” past Councils did that real well with the Uptown TIF, annual budget deficits, incompetent bureaucrats, etc. Kind of like those morons in Springfield were so good at “getting bills through” that bankrupted this state.

But now that the Council has given the Park District what it wants at YCP, we’ll look forward to seeing how the Park District will cooperate with the City on Northwest Park.

Like it did with the flood control plans for North Park?

I hope Jennifer Johnson at Park Ridge HA headlines with “Mayor Schmidt Threatens Eminent Domain Over Youth Campus”

Could you imagine the uproar if he over-turned an election?

EDITOR’S NOTE: If JJ can find any way to criticize Schmidt, she will. But even JJ would have to stretch to come up with something as stupid as that headline.

It’s moot, but what the hey — or is that hay?
The comment in re the mayor and aldermen being protected by the City blackmailing the Park District into permitting the park’s use for floodwater detention meant that residents would then feel these elected officials had done all they could about flooding. Everyone is frustrated and frightened, but PubDog is right: the semi-annual 100-year flooding is not the current mayor’s or aldermen’s fault; it’s decades of attention placed elsewhere and kicking the can down the road. Maybe we could hold a Citywide raffle to raise money for actual sewer mapping and replacement, with the prize being an individual home’s solution worth $10K? We are unlikely to get the sewer project money by raising taxes.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Any major infrastructure improvement like flood control will need to be financed over a number of years through bonding, with taxes covering the debt service.

Unlike the Park District’s arrogant scam with the Centennial water park, however, we are confident this Mayor and City Council would go to referendum on such a major project even though, as a home rule body, it does not have to.

“And as for the Youth Campus’ “storied past,” are you talking about its past as a home for unwed pregnant girls or its past as a home for juvenile delinquents? Because we want to make sure we’ve got the right “story” behind that “storied past, don’t we?”

I shouldn’t even dignify such a crass and disgusting comment with a response but even if you have no regard for social service agencies that provide crucial support to people much less fortunate than most of us in Park Ridge, the early history of TYC is significant.

The Illinois Industrial School for Girls relocated from Evanston to the Park Ridge site in 1908, with the first building funded by noted Chicago businessman (Sears, Roebuck & Co) and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. The Board comprised noted civic leaders and social reformers, including Jane Addams.

Six of the nine buildings were designed by noted Chicago architectural firm Holabird and Roche. Grounds were designed by prominent landscape architect Ossian Cole Simonds, who designed, among other places, Lincoln Park.

A statue on the grounds was exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

Do I need to go on?

EDITOR’S NOTE: If THAT’s the “storied past” you want preserved, then the Park District is wasting the $7 million-plus it’s spending over and above the approximately $6 million cost of the property and buildings as is, where is.

Do we need to go on?

5:59. I think we have a better chance of past achievements being preserved via the PRPD, who is retaining a few of the most significant buildings including the one that houses the Historical Society, than a developer who would demolish it all in the name of the almighty dollar sign.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Try buying a loaf of bread, or paying your electric bill – or paying all the contractors who will be substantially changing the character of the Youth Campus – with something that doesn’t have “the almighty dollar sign” attached to it.

5:59, your comments mislead readers because the Park District is not keeping every one of those buildings, and it is not keeping the landscape design. Back in the day it housed a lot of troubled girls and unmarried girls “in a family way” (as they used to say). I live near the Youth Campus and for the last ten years it was a constant source of trouble and police calls, even after the young men were removed and only young women remained. So don’t make it out to be something its not just to make a wrong point.

Anon 5:03
As a resident whose house is smack in the middle of one of the worst hit areas in PR I can’t tell you how thankful I am for aldermen like Milissis and Smith who did everything they could to make sure the PD “cooperates”. As far as your selective quoting goes I actually watched the meeting video and saw that even the mayor, who is also an attorney BTW, wasn’t convinced that the city attorney’s advice on the motion was correct. He cautioned the aldermen not to vote against the motion only because of what the city attorney said. He also asked her if there was case law that supported her advice that this might not be legally firm ground and she could provide none. So your making it sound like it was a clear law on the books that this can not be done is misleading. But then again you’re a Park District cheerleader and probably the same crowd that’s going to complain if your baseball field is not pristine after its been used to hold storm water for a few days when neighborhoods and homes are under water. Let’s hope to God that Maloney is right and we do end up “catching more flies with honey”. We just trusted the future of our flooding issues to the good will of the PD commissioners.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We also hope Ald. Maloney is right, but one need only to look back only to 2011 and the Park District’s summary rejection of stormwater detention plans for both Northwest Park and North Park – as Herald-Advocate stories on May 26, 2013, July 15, 2013, and October 20, 2013 reported – to have serious concerns about the Park District’s good faith in this regard.

6:01, OK. So just because TYC housed troubled kids that most PR residents wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole makes it worthy only of demolition. Got it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If that’s what you “got” out of that comment, you should re-read the first sentence.

7:46. I read the first sentence, which is not true. The PD is keeping the most significant buildings — and probably would have kept at least one more had the costs not been so prohibitive. Heaven forbid residents support preservation on a larger scale and kudos to the PD for recognizing the futility of that. Unlike some people who have an “all or nothing” mentality, I’m happy to have at least some of the property preserved.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cut the revisionist history: the Park District is keeping those buildings because they can be used by the Park District at a much lower cost than replacing them. From the very beginning fo the YCP project, the “preservation” sold to the public for referendum purposes was called “Conserving Open Space” (v. new homes); and even THAT took second billing to “Enhancing Recreation” – with no mention of preserving buildings for preservation sake.

So for those of us that have invested $15,000 in flood control should then sacrifice our own assets to protect anon 7:32 ‘s home? Does 732 have a check valve? Overhead sewers? Battery back-up? Drain tile? Natural gas back-up?

PW- Your point about past councils getting bills through is perplexing. Just because you don’t like those polices, doesn’t mean that those councils didn’t have skill to get something done. Millissis-Smith alliance is the opposite. If you think their proposals are well-meaning, what’s the point if they are clueless on how to achieve the results? I would argue they have harmed intergovernmental relationships by their very public strong words.

EDITOR’S NOTE: One of the golden rules of business is that: “Sometimes the best deal is the one you don’t make.” When it comes to local government, we prefer the Hippocratic Oath (“Do no harm”) is a lot wiser policy than “get something done” – as the Uptown TIF financial boondoggle and that Courtland house that the City bought for $600,000 and held until it became a tear-down demonstrates in pretty clear terms.

Argue all you want, but over the past few years the Park District has demonstrated enough mismanagement (e.g., the Senior Center, Kemnitz bequest, Grodsky issues, etc.) and disregard for the taxpayers (no referendum for Centennial water park, dismissal of North Park and Northwest Park detention areas, etc.) to strongly suggest that it sees “intergovernmental relationships” as one-way streets.

Not to put to fine a point on 8:52 a.m.’s comment, and the editor’s note, but the campaign to “make the Youth Campus a park” was just as much, if not more, a campaign to make the Youth Campus an office campus for the Park District.

Does the Park District get rent for water detention or salt storage of the existing parks? How about for easement use?

Has there been any payments made to the park district for upkeep or missed use of time ?

EDITOR’S NOTE: What “water detention”? What “easement use”? “Upkeep or missed use of time” for what?

There was a written agreement covering salt storage, but we don’t know if it involves the payment of rent. Given how long ago it was negotiated and executed – by public officials who didn’t seem to particularly concern themselves with the legal and financial distinctions between various governmental bodies – we wouldn’t be surprised if no rent was involved.

Anon 9:50
I’d say the Park District had already harmed intergovernmental relationships when during the first discussion about the YCP they showed up to city council with a court reporter and their attorney in no uncertain terms threatened the mayor and council with legal action if they didn’t get their way and multitude of variances without any delay. Now you wonder why some aldermen weren’t big believers on good faith on the PD’s part? Please.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We were waiting for somebody to point that out – and why ALL the aldermen AND the mayor didn’t point that out Monday night when intergovernmental cooperation and trust were tripping so casually off certain tongues.

A “scam” is, by definition, an illegal manuever. The Park Board’s decision to rebuild Centennial Pool without a referendum was legal and therefore not a “scam.” Everything you dislike is not a “scam.” It’s just something you dislike.
And throwing that around so casually diminishes your impact when you have a genuine scam on which to report. Please. Less heat, more light.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “scam” as:

“a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people”; or
“a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation.”

The Park District’s entire premise that “the community” wanted a new Centennial water park, and wanted to spend $7 million on one with $6 million of bonded debt, was dishonest and deceptive. It didn’t know that, and couldn’t know or even reasonably guess at it, without a referendum.

Please. Less Pictionary, more dictionary.

Scam…point Watchdog.

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