Pat Barrett would like to buy a dump.
Barrett, who owns the property that houses the Kustom Towing and storage businesses at 9014 W. 47th St. is interesting in acquiring the unimproved Sunnyside Avenue right-of-way directly east of the property.
That unremarkable strip of land became the center of a controversy when the Village of Brookfield, which owns the right-of-way, began storing leaves from its fall leaf collection program at the site. The move outraged the former owner of the commercial property at 9014 47th St., and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency forced the village to cease dumping the leaves there.
Since that time, the long, narrow right-of-way?”once a grassy area that served as an unofficial backyard for the apartment buildings on Vernon Avenue to the east?”has become a swampy, muddy, weed-infested parcel.
But where others see a useless tract of land, Barrett sees opportunity for expansion. Barrett currently operates the Hammer Express trucking company at 9100 Plainfield Road, just across the street from the 47th Street property, which he acquired earlier this year for $1.3 million from the previous owners.
“Potentially we might move our offices to the [47th Street] property,” Barrett said.
The extra 55 or so feet he would gain to the east would allow for more storage of truck containers and provide an access road off of 47th Street, Barrett said.
And the Village of the Brookfield may be willing to part with the land. Last year, the village board had a cursory discussion related to selling the property, and went so far as to have an appraisal done.
But that discussion bogged down when staff revealed that utilities might run underneath the old right-of-way. A subsequent investigation by the village’s engineering firm found that, indeed, water, sewer and cable lines ran underneath the ground and that easements to those utilities had to be maintained if the village ever wished to sell the property.
Since much of the land would be unbuildable, interest in it would be limited. But Barrett, who wants to simply cover the land with gravel and erect a new fence, has no problem with granting utility easements.
“The property is still appealing to me,” Barrett said.
While Barrett is the only person who has publicly expressed interest in the property, the village cannot simply decide to sell it to him.
Instead, the village must go through a specific process for divesting itself of property. The first order of business will be to obtain a new appraisal that includes information on the required utility easements.
After that the village must decide whether to hold a public auction for the property or accept sealed bids. The last time the village sold a piece of land was earlier this year, when a sealed bid process was used to sell property in the 8900 block of Fairview Avenue.
The village ended up clearing $324,000 from the sale of that land.