The Nov. 20 and 21 Riverside village board and TIF meetings clearly showed that many people in our community believe that the TIF proposals are an ill-advised initiative that is wrong for Riverside. As speaker after speaker called for the board to either drop the measure or at least put it to referendum, all the village president would answer is that “we don’t have to.”
Likewise, despite the vote going against the tunnel reconstruction project 2-1, trustees Smith, Grace and the village manager still want to see how they can ignore that decision of the voters. and pursue other alternatives.
Somewhere along the line these people have come to believe that they are better qualified to judge what is right for Riverside than anyone else. They seem to be no longer serving the people but dictating to them, as when Trustee Smith announced that he would keep everyone from smoking anywhere in the village if he could. Well bully for you, Crusader Rabbit. I thought you were elected to represent all the people, but I guess you now believe you have been made czar.
Make no mistake, this board’s agenda is spelled “development at any price.” They spent thousands to develop the B-2 zoning code, and then immediately turned around and gave a fourth floor variance to that exceedingly ugly and atrociously overscaled monster block that is now crawling ponderously upward out of its foundation hole at the Henninger site.
More taxpayer dollars continue to be squandered on consultants and lawyers and studies to bolster their cause so they can get what they want. Despite the fact that they have exhibited poor judgment bordering on incompetence or worse in handling the Delaplaine Crossing, Village Center and Arcade Building projects, like everyone else who says he has enough, they want more.
Most people who take a moment to think about it understand that this misguided thrust for development and the tax dollars they hope it will bring into their hands so they can raise salaries and embark on ever more ambitious projects is bogus. Their poor taste and poorer judgment has already irrevocably harmed the village’s ambiance. They must be convinced to stop before they hurt the schools and the parks as well.
Others will address the harm that the proposed TIF will do to our schools by sequestering revenues that now go to education and putting them instead in the board’s hands for some inane developmental vision that has yet to be articulated. I want to explain why it would be disastrous to let these people have the money and the power to “develop” anything in our parks-and specifically the Swan Pond.
One of the areas included in this TIF proposal is what is labeled a “blighted vacant area.” The board’s consultants identify “the vacant land south of Burling Road, along Barrypoint and Fairbank Road” as “blighted.” That, ladies and gentlemen, is The Swan Pond, and to call that “blighted” is both intellectually dishonest and gut-wrenching.
To state that “redevelopment of the park is necessary for future use” is both fraudulent and sinister in its implications. Because the Swan Pond is a natural flood plain-as God intended at least since it was the edge of prehistoric Lake Chicago-this board wants to change it.
Guthrie Park is also in danger, as is the green area adjacent to the train station south of the tracks. I believe the majority of residents would say, leave these parks alone, but who knows what this board will do? There is no accepted plan. Centennial Park, because it is not a park at all but rather an industrial site is also in danger of being reduced and having parking spots cut into it.
This alternative is being worked on right now. Likewise, the village attorney has found that the village could change the use of Harrington Park. In sum, the village may utilize any village real estate for any public purpose it deems proper. …
Now I have another question: Who the hell do these tin-pot little dictators-in-the-making think they are that they can foist this damaging initiative onto the village, sequester these tax revenues from the schools, and use them to degrade and deface the appearance, tranquility and ambiance of our beloved village and parks?
Friends, neighbors, fellow residents-you better start paying attention and get involved or you will end up, before you know it, with more monster blocks, out-of-town traffic streaming through to use the multilevel parking structure … built on places where people live and recreate themselves.
Giving these people money to offer more inducements to developers to destroy what is special about Riverside is foolish and dangerous. It is not what these people were elected for. They should go, and we must help them on their way.
Donald Spatny is a Riverside resident.