Eight months after the Carol Stream library board began looking into a possible sale of a 7.5-acre parcel of land on Kuhn Road, the new board president said Monday he's looking for a fresh start.
In his first meeting since he and four allies on the Support the Library slate were sworn in, Jim Bailey said he doesn't believe the outgoing board president, Mike Wade, was giving the rest of the board the full story on negotiations between him and representatives of ManorCare, a Toledo, Ohio-based nursing home company that offered to buy the property for $1.35 million.
The old board agreed to allow Wade to accept any offer above a certain amount -- though Bailey says Wade abused that power by keeping trustees out of the loop on the full scope of negotiations. Bailey was the lone trustee to vote against allowing Wade to participate in negotiations.
And so shortly after being chosen by the board as the new president on Monday, Bailey -- in his first official action -- proposed the library board hire an outside commercial real estate attorney to evaluate the proposed purchase agreement and provide the board with a "comprehensive understanding related to the potential sale of the Kuhn Road property."
"I think we have an obligation to the community to start fresh," Bailey said. "We're not in a financial position today where we're ready to receive the money from the sale. We need to do our due diligence. We need to give consideration if we want to go through with a sale."
Wade, a longtime opponent of plans for a new library on the property at 2N540 Kuhn Road, proposed it be put on the market last year. Bailey was the lone trustee to vote against it, and other members of the STL slate have expressed reservations with a proposed sale.
Bailey said during Monday's meeting he had "reason and cause to be suspicious" about the negotiations, after he filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Library Director Susan Westgate for Wade's email exchanges with attorneys and Realtors about the Kuhn Road property. Wade, through Westgate, provided the emails, but they were heavily redacted, with Wade citing attorney-client privilege, according to Bailey.
"He was overlooking the whole time that the board is the client. That makes me wonder what is it he doesn't want me to see," Bailey said. "That's why I want a fresh set of eyes on this. One thing we promised when we were campaigning was transparency and that's going to start right here today."
Library attorney Britt Isaly said his firm, Ancel Glink, has a commercial real estate attorney who has already reviewed the proposed purchase agreement and has suggested changes that would be "more favorable to the library" than the original contract.
Trustee Dominick Jeffrey, one of two Wade allies who remain on the board, said it would be "redundant" to hire another attorney.
"Britt's firm has done a good job for us," Jeffrey said. "How many eyes do you need on this thing?"
In a 5-1 decision, Jeffrey was the lone vote opposed to Bailey's recommendation to hire an outside attorney. Trustee David DeRango, also a Wade ally, was absent. The board instructed Westgate to contact up to three attorneys, and the board would select one of them.
Despite a turnover in the board majority, Jeffrey said he still favors a sale to uphold his "fiduciary responsibility to this community."
Last Wednesday, the newly elected board members from the STL slate were sworn in one by one in the library's business conference room. The oath taking took place two weeks earlier than scheduled -- all in an attempt to prevent the outgoing board from trying to sell the land.
Wade had called for a special meeting to be held this Wednesday to vote on a contract to sell the property, but Westgate said Monday the newly seated trustees have told her they don't plan to be in attendance, and so she does not anticipate a quorum.
Library attorney Stewart Diamond said last week that state statute indicates the new board is legitimately seated, though it might have been "more desirable" for the new trustees to have waited to be sworn in at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on May 15.