Oak Lawn pursuing wellness center plan
BY BOB RAKOW Correspondent November 16, 2012 9:00PM
Oak Lawn residents can weigh in on the village’s plans to expand a pair of special taxing districts.
A public hearing to consider the expansion of the Triangle TIF District Redevelopment Project Area is scheduled for 3 p.m. Nov. 27 at village hall, 9446 S. Raymond Ave. The area runs along the train tracks on the south side of 95th Street until Cook Avenue.
A public hearing to consider the expansion of the 111th Street and Cicero Avenue Redevelopment Project Area will follow at
The special taxing districts typically are created to attract development, with the municipality issuing bonds to pay for site improvements, such as streets and sewers. The money is paid back over a period of years via the extra tax revenue generated by development.
The village board also will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 28.
Updated: December 19, 2012 12:16PM
A plan for Oak Lawn to partner with Advocate Christ Medical Center to build a senior/community wellness center gained momentum Tuesday when the village board directed village manager Larry Deetjen to begin talks with the hospital about the proposal.
The board voted 4 to 3 in favor of the plan, with Mayor David Heilmann casting the deciding vote. Trustees Alex Olejniczak (2nd), Tom Duhig (4th) and Tom Phelan (6th) voted against it.
Under the plan, the hospital would help fund construction of the center instead of paying an annual impact fee to help pay for additional village services that will become necessary as the hospital continues its expansion.
The wellness center would be built on the vacant Beatty Lumber property, 9537 S. 52nd Ave., adjacent to the Metra train station.
The trustees voting against it cited financial reasons.
“I really feel it’s time (for the hospital) to pony up and help the village,” Duhig said. “We really have to continue our negotiations with the hospital.”
“The reality is, it comes down to money. We need money,” Phelan said. “It’s all been put aside. It’s all been delayed in favor of the potential project we know nothing about.”
Deetjen had been negotiating an impact fee but said the hospital “didn’t agree on the dollar amount.”
Negotiations were put on hold in October when the plan for the wellness center was brought forth by Heilmann, who said the center would have a greater lasting impact on the village.
“I just think we can do better for the village of Oak Lawn,” Heilmann said.
The village had considered moving the senior center into a bank that is to be built on 95th Street, but Heilmann said a complex built in partnership with Advocate would be more beneficial to the community.
The building would house a new senior center, fitness center, lap pool and meeting rooms and offer services provided by the hospital, such as nutritionists, nurses and other medical professionals, he said.
Heilmann said the hospital has indicated it would pay an impact fee or help fund the center but not both. He said plans for the center may not work out, and the impact fee remains a possibility.
Trustee Bob Streit (3rd), a Heilmann ally, said the center “is a much better opportunity for us.”
He said the hospital’s expansion project has fueled the village’s economy via construction and permanent jobs.
“What about the economic impact of that? There isn’t just an endless pit,” Streit said.
Developers Tony Ruh and Karl Shea bought the Beatty Lumber property in October 2011 and proposed construction of a nine-story office tower in February.