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Advocate May Swap Service Fee for Senior Wellness Center

Oak Lawn Village Board battles over shift in game plan seeking service fee from Advocate Christ for public coffers to co-venturing with village on senior wellness center at Beaty property.

Oak Lawn Village Board members discussed—ad nauseam—a plan to explore partnering with Advocate Christ Medical Center on a new senior wellness center as part of a re-development plan at the former Beatty Lumber property.

The state-of-the-art senior wellness center would be built by Advocate and owned by the village, possibly as an alternative to paying an impact or service fee to the village’s general revenue fund as a cost of doing business in Oak Lawn.

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As a non-profit, the medical center does not pay the village property taxes or other fees, such as building permits.

Oak Lawn trustees voted in December 2011 to begin negotiations with Advocate Christ for a service fee to help balance the village budget. The plan was modeled after an arrangement between Park Ridge and Advocate Lutheran General, which pays a service fee to Park Ridge.

Advocate Christ’s latest construction project, the largest in Oak Lawn history, calls for a 9-story patient tower and parking garage, although the plans have recently changed to reduce the size of the building. Another patient tower is currently going up on the medical campus facing 95th Street.

Oak Lawn trustees approved the medical center’s zoning, height and setback variances—with conditions--after an intensive review by the village’s planning and development commission, and an independent architecture firm over the summer.

The expansion is likely to place more wear and tear on the village infrastructure, as well as requiring hiring more police officers and purchasing additional emergency equipment.

According to a source on the planning and development commission, the village was poised to finalize an impact fee negotiated by the village manager, in which Advocate would pay the village $1.7 million over 40 months.

Plans for a co-venture took shape at a meeting with Advocate officials in September, attended by the mayor, village manager, the Beatty developers, and Trustee Bob Streit (Dist. 3) and his business partner, Dennis Brennan.

Trustee Tom Duhig, whose fourth district encompasses the medical center campus, said that Park Ridge receives a monthly $50,000 service fee from Advocate Lutheran General.

“We approached the hospital and asked for the same type of agreement,” Duhig said.  “I don’t think we were out of line. I think based on the expansion program and the additional resources that are going to be required by the village that it was something actually long overdue.”

Village Manager Larry Deetjen said he had “concerns” that the conditions Advocate agreed to, such as paying for a streetscape, traffic signal and beefing up infrastructure, weren’t going to be met.

“Those are all agreements that this board and planning commission agreed to,” Deetjen said. “In my opinion, there’s no negotiation, those were conditions of approval.”

“Are you saying someone from the hospital is not moving forward with the conditions they’ve agreed to,” Mayor Dave Heilmann asked.

“I have concerns that progress on all those fronts need to be documented,” Deetjen said. “I haven’t seen the progress of these.”

Trustee Tom Phelan (Dist. 6) said the board was “talking ad nauseam” about “generic references and visions.” Details of the co-venture were vague.

“It’s all subjective, nothing qualitative,” he said. “We have a responsibility to make determination based on upon information, not words like ‘vision’ and ‘better.’”

There was also banter about Advocate being exempt from having pay to building permit fees—estimated around $3 million—to the village.

“All these issues like lost permit fees are a ruse,” Streit said. “We could negotiate some fixed fee or we could work with the hospital to encourage a very successful development for the long-term future of the community that I and the mayor and others believe is in the best interest of the community. I guess we’re going to talk about this ad nauseam …”

Phelan brought up that a preliminary 2013 budget hearing, board members had discussed a possible 20- to 30-percent property tax increase. The village is also considering selling village-owned assets to help balance the budget.

"That is a massive hit," Phelan said.

Heilmann called for a motion to direct the village manager to follow through with the exploration of the senior center concept. The mayor added that the motion did not give the village manager “negotiating authority” but to report back to the board “on the progress of the exploration.”

Before the vote, Phelan and Duhig asked the mayor why Advocate couldn’t do both—pay an impact fee and partner on a senior center.

“No one is against a senior center,” Phelan said.

The village board voted 4-3 to continue discussions of a possible co-venture with Advocate.

Should Advocate Christ Medical Center be required to pay some type of fee to the village's general fund? Tell us in the comments.

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Octodad November 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Where is the fall on the green audit? Saving it for right before the election?
O.L. Taxpayer November 16, 2012 at 03:14 PM
No, not until after the election because as predicted it probably does not contain enough damning evidence to sink a certain candidate and enough to make a trustee from Dist. 3 look even more foolish than his new beard.
Alex Nogo November 17, 2012 at 09:46 PM
If it is after the election, the administrator that picked this auditor should be fired for incompetence. How come it is taking this long? What are they trying to hide?
anthony November 18, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Hey Andy thanks for standing up for OL....
Oak Lawn Gal November 18, 2012 at 03:44 PM
I think most people would support a new Senior Center. But that's a one-time expense for Advocate that will do nothing to help the village balance this or future budgets. As I look at the options in the article I think the recurring monthly service fee of $50k is a no-brainer. That would be $600k annually forever. And even better there's a precedent with Lutheran General. $1.7 million sounds tempting until you realize that's roughly $56k a month for only 2 1/2 years.
SandyPatch November 18, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I watched this meeting. Sandra Bury lead off the meeting with her 3 minute infomercial to shop small business' on the 24th. The kicker was when at the end she threw a "shout out" of suppoet for the Patch. Yes she did, thus it is pretty much stated fact that The Patch is buddy-buddy with the Phelan Gang. PS Alex O must go!
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) November 18, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Excuse me, I attended Tuesday's board meeting and I did not see an "infomercial" for the Small Business Saturday event, which Patch supports 100 percent. As a member of the Oak Lawn Chamber, yes, I and our advertising manager are helping out with it. Patch supports Oak Lawn small businesses and I think our record of coverage establishes that. I was also on time for Tuesday's meeting so please let me know when you head the Sandra Bury's "shout out" to Patch. I've heard other village board members give "shout outs" to Patch, or at least make references to it, including the mayor.
SandyPatch November 18, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Watch the meeting Lorraine....your cover is blown
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) November 18, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I arrived just as the pledge was being recited. Are you referring to pre-meeting announcements? I never watch the meetings because I can't stand seeing myself on TV. Nice viral marketing btw, SandyPatch.
SandyPatch November 18, 2012 at 05:23 PM
The Phelan Gang is as thick as thieves.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) November 18, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Alrighty then, SandyPatch.
SandyPatch November 18, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I've struck a nerve I see. People dont like it when the covers are pulled back.
anthony November 18, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Well its was a lot of fun .."out of order" discussed some issues "out of order" informed the residents."out of order".. I give Streit credit takes a lot of nerve to tell off or alienate taxpaying voting residents by the dozen ..Every person connected with that alley will actively campaign against him but hey he must of know that... I really dont get Trautsch's goofy questions, they always need explaining never seems relevant and most of the time are ridiculous. Ask questions that you dont think you know the answer to.. Phelen needs to sit still! Not some robotic kettle on the stove tossing and turning like the exorcist literally biting his lip... Its obvious that some on the board have vested interests that seem diametrically opposed to what's best for Oak Lawn...
anthony November 18, 2012 at 06:25 PM
http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business 4 the mayor
SandyPatch November 18, 2012 at 06:53 PM
I'm not the mayor...but nice try...might want to pass that on to Tommy and his emails with PDFs
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) November 18, 2012 at 06:56 PM
My nerves are just fine, SandyPatch. Just had a nice walk with the dog.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) November 18, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Thanks for sharing the FTC Spam Act and rules of compliance, Anthony. I read the act and am familiar with many of the requirements. My interpretation is that it only applies to businesses and services--not political mailers or anything associated with an election, which is unfortunate.
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) November 18, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I concur, Anthony. I was at the meeting and it was the WORST I've covered in my career of covering really bad meetings.
anthony November 18, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Thanks for the reporting Lorraine ! Topical as ever.. I think the mayor was refering to the Hatch act.. However i believe it only applies to federal employees
OakLawnGuy November 18, 2012 at 08:57 PM
That presentation on the small business day was prerecorded, before the gavel, therefore quite legal. I did find it curious that it was Dr Bury doing the bugle blowing, though. Kinda free campaign exposure.
OakLawnGuy November 18, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Mr Deetjen was doing a bit of waffling with the hospital thing. We got an amount, we don't have an amount.....perhaps he's having a hard time picking a political lane.
anthony November 18, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Mr Deetjen had a deal for a senior center that was a bit dubious.. Its obvious that most seniors would of banked there especially if they got picked up and dropped off ( i am guessing the seniors get rides to the center) Would it of been fair to other banks,no. Would it made it easy for seniors to bank,yes. However the deal came about the board meeting sticking point for selling the land to the bank was the senior center... The bank got the free ride as the senior center was a condition of the negotiated price...
Wendy November 18, 2012 at 11:57 PM
A senior center in the heart of Oak Lawn? If the village wants people to take the train to Oak Lawn something should be placed at Beatty Lumber that would attract visitors. Nothing against seniors, but a senior center won't do it. Put the senior center in another location and put something more marketable by the train station. How about a Trader Joe's like in La Grange?
Sandra Bury November 19, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Small Business Saturday was started in 2010 by American Express and has become a national celebration of the value added businesses that drive our local economies. (https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/Shop-Small/) “Small Business Saturday Oak Lawn” is a grass roots effort to support shopping small in conjunction with this national event. Congressman Lipinski, in an Extension of Remarks to the Congressional Record in support of the event recognized that small businesses are what keep Main Street communities alive and thriving. At the November 13th Village Board Meeting, the Board of Trustees voted to approve a resolution in recognition of the vital role small businesses play and saw this as an occasion to strengthen opportunities for local small businesses by encouraging residents to support this effort. The Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce, Oak Lawn Patch and several area business concerns are proud supporters of this event as well. We encourage everyone to Shop Oak Lawn, Shop Small and support our local economy this holiday season. The Small Business Saturday Oak Lawn committee sincerely appreciates the generous support of our sponsors.
living near November 19, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Do you think the village gets to decide what goes there? Let me clue you in and let everyone know that it is the developer that decides. As long as the project is within the zoning code, the developer can build anything he wants. By the way,a Trader Joes would be too big for that spot.
SeniorCenter November 19, 2012 at 06:37 PM
ummm...the village is the developer. do your homework.
Tracker November 19, 2012 at 09:17 PM
duuuuuuuh... no it isn't. hamilton partners/properties is the developer. do yours
JR November 20, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Wendy, I agree. We need to build a strong and sustainable econominc engine in the heart of the Village. A senior center won't add to the economy and won't bring in any property tax or sales tax dollars. Also, a Trader Joes is NOT too big for that spot. In keeping with the whole Park Ridge theme, they have a very nice, slightly smaller scale, Trader Joes a newer shopping area that is a short walk from the Park Ridge Metra station. Oak Lawn needs to target more innovative retail ventures that will generate sales tax dollars.

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