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Elmhurst aldermen request Addison Parking Deck referendum

ELMHURST – Residents could get another chance to weigh in on the proposed downtown Addison Parking Deck.

The Elmhurst Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee will review a request to place a referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot asking residents if they support the parking deck and the general obligation bonds needed to fund the project is being considered.

"The referendum would give the council a more accurate way to determine public opinion of Elmhurst voters regarding the multi-million dollar parking garage project," said Andrea Alvarez, a law clerk at the Citizen Advocacy Center in Elmhurst, during the public comments section of Monday's City Council meeting.

The request by First Ward alderman Diane Gutenkauf and Third Ward alderman Michael Bram, states cost for the six-story parking deck could approach $20 million.

While Elmhurst property tax payers will be obligated to repay the bonds, there are no state limitations as to the rate or amount of general obligation bonds the city can issue. The city also plans to issue general obligation bonds to fund flood mitigation projects in the near future, according to the request.

"When you're going to spend multiple millions of taxpayer dollars on a clearly controversial project, a referendum would be helpful," Elmhurst resident Tamara Brenner said during public comment.

She added that she did not believe the Zoning and Planning Commission's decision to support the six-story project fully considered community input delivered during a public hearing on the issue.

"This year's decision is internally incompatible with last year's report," Brenner said.

Elmhurst resident and former alderman Paula Pezza questioned the commission's change in opinion about the six-story project since it was not supported last year when the developer applied for conditional use permits and variances.

"People want to know what is the real reason behind the push for the six-story parking garage," Pezza said.

She told the council she's heard rumors around town that another private development deal is pending the approval of the Addison Parking Deck and asked for answers.

The council approved the referral without discussion Monday and sent the request to the Finance, Council Affairs and Administrative Services Committee for review.

The request also asks that no bonds be issued for the Addison Parking Deck until property tax payers are given the opportunity to decide whether they support bonding as a way to pay for the project.

"When does the legitimate community input happen?" Brenner asked. "I haven't seen it yet when it comes to the Addison parking garage."

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