PLAINFIELD – Officials have started formal discussions about what to do with the rest of the village-owned property near the future site of a Pace Park-n-Ride station.
Village of Plainfield staff and trustees met Monday night for a workshop meeting to look at options for the 58 acres, which includes 10 acres set aside for the Pace lot. The village bought the land for $7.5 million more than 10 years ago.
Trustees are considering three options for the remaining 48 acres. The options are as follows – to do nothing; to sell the lot; or try to enter a public-private partnership, also known as a “P3,” to develop the land with significant input on what ends up there.
Much of the meeting served as an introduction to the P3 concept, which still is relatively new in the government and development sectors. Trustees were presented with a few examples of what can be done under a P3, with municipalities such as Mundelein, Hoffman Estates and Naperville having done them or currently in the midst of one.
But the $7.5 million purchase became the subject of discussion when Trustee Ed O’Rourke expressed hesitation toward a public-private partnership, saying it’s “irresponsible” to put more taxpayer money toward the land when it has sat unused for 10 years.
Village Administrator Brian Murphy and Village President Mike Collins defended the purchase saying essentially that it was a good purchase at the time – before the economy crashed – because a suburban commuter rail project that the site was pegged for appeared very likely.
Trustee Cally Larson said she can’t control what happened 10 years ago, so it’s best to make a strategic decision based on all the information in front of the board. Larson suggested open houses for residents to express what they would like to see done with the property under a public-private partnership.
O’Rourke wants the village to sell the land, which, according to stats provided at the meeting, could go for as much as $45,000 per acre if it were to become an industrial development.
Trustee Bill Lamb would rather the village have some say in what comes of the project, which is an advantage of the P3 concept, officials said. If the land were to be sold to a developer, the zoning would be the most significant input the village would have for the land.
“If we sell it, we lose all control,” Lamb said.
But one thing the village wants to use the land for is as a future site of the Plainfield Emergency Management Agency, which currently is housed in a barn.
Larson said she was “almost embarrassed” to see that PEMA operates out of that structure, which is by all accounts not in good condition.