Thinking back to the end of 2014, Morton Grove politicians voted to spend more money on a “pre-development study,” to see whether the 8300 Lehigh building, which the village purchased in 2013, would be suitable for a police station.
In 2012, the village hired a consulting firm and asked them to evaluate the police department’s space needs and weigh the costs and benefits of constructing an addition or moving to a new location. The consultant presented its findings and recommended a new location.
Subsequently, the village purchased the 8300 Lehigh building from General Bandage.
The obvious question here is why wasn’t this study done to determine the buildings’ suitability before the village purchased the building?
On January 14, 2015 Morton Grove News received an email from a resident “G.” who stated;
“I was sitting in the former Police Chief’s office discussing the new Police Station when “Mayor” DiMaria called and told him to stop all work with the consultants who were preparing an outline of requirements for the architectural quote. The new Police Station was pretty far down the pike with property being researched, vetted, consultant studies performed on the locations’ viability, land purchased, funding arrangements made with minions at the County and State level and even two other Police agencies (METRA and Cook County Forest Preserve District) had expressed interest in “renting” space inside the new facility for their officers to use.
No explanation was given at the time why to cease and desist. The former Police Chief did a lot of work on his own to make things happen because of the constant foot dragging of the Mayor, Corporation Counsel and Village Administrator.”
At the time we said; “This new information motivates us to ask the following questions:
If all of this work was already done, why would the administration hire yet another consultant to redo work that had already been done and paid for out of tax dollars?
Does a Village President have the sole power to stop an ongoing project without the input of the village board and without an opportunity for public input?”
Here we are in May of 2017, five full years after the first consultant’s report and the now village-owned building stands used as storage and there is still no new cop shop.
On January 12, 2015 there was an article in the Morton Grove Champion reporting that the owners of Prairie View shopping Center were coming in from Canada to meet with Village President DiMaria on January 15th. “It’s a good spot for a grocery store that complements the surrounding area, and we need a good $20-a-plate outlet restaurant, such as Carraba’s*,” DiMaria said.
DiMaria announced the owners’ visit Jan. 8, 2015 at a public meeting called to have consultant John Houseal present the findings of the village’s strategic plan. His comments came in response to a citizen who asked at the meeting what had happened after reports last May announced a Meijer grocery store might fill the space Dominick’s vacated. Nothing has materialized yet.
“What Happened”? Just like all of the announcements from Dan DiMaria, nothing happened. The economy started to rebound in 2014. Money once again became available for redevelopment, but President DiMaria dithered and waffled and couldn’t, (or wouldn’t) pull the trigger. Now, with major brick and mortar retailers like Sears, Kohls and others going belly up like so many alewives, the window of opportunity has closed.
Here we are in May of 2017, five full years since Dominick’s moved out, and the Park View Shopping Center remains a ghost town and now since Produce World is gone there is no food store in town.
The problem here seems to be twofold. First off the micromanaging of village projects by Mr. DiMaria, inserting himself into areas over which he has no authority and no particular expertise. Secondly, the village board is failing in their duty to oversee village ordinances and failing to curb the power overreach of Mr. DiMaria.
Village President DiMaria seems to be practicing the “ready, fire, aim” method of governing based on unreasoned “shooting from the lip” rather than following the collegiate cooperation of working with the village board and respecting their role of advise and consent. And, just as unfortunately, the village board has forfeited their duty by not overseeing the actions of the village.
Our current village administration is very good at making promises and shouting pie-in-the-sky glorious projects, (which never seem to pan out). They act like the uncle playing Santa Claus promising everything that your little heart desires.
Government officials can’t afford to be Santa Claus anymore, especially for what most would agree are non-essential services like consultants. They have to be frugal, they have to ensure they’re getting the biggest possible bang for the few bucks they have to spend, and — in what is probably the toughest thing a politician can do — they have to learn how to say “no.”
A wise man once said;
“It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.”
–Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1775