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Article updated: 5/16/2013 2:41 PM

Carol Stream library board gives president power to sell property

By Christopher Placek

The newly seated Carol Stream library board is giving its president the power to sell -- or not sell -- its Kuhn Road property.

It's the same authority the old board granted to its president that new board members objected to while campaigning for their seats.

The difference between new and old, new Board President Jim Bailey says, is that the board recommendation passed on a 5-2 vote Wednesday night includes the provision that any final sales contract requires the approval of the board of trustees.

And, Bailey says, he will keep the entire board apprised of any conversations he has with realtors and attorneys -- something he claims former Board President Mike Wade didn't do.

"It doesn't make sense for seven people to talk to the realtor," Bailey said. "Yes, I was opposed to empowering Wade -- it gave him the power to negotiate in blind. The intent of this motion is to make clear this board will be apprised."

Bailey and four other trustees elected in April on the Support the Library slate have expressed reservations with a sale of the 7.5-acre property at 2N540 Kuhn Road -- a site once intended for a new library.

Wade and his majority on the old board voted to put the property on the market last fall and subsequently received an offer from ManorCare, a Toledo, Ohio-based nursing home company, for $1.35 million. The property was listed for $1.8 million. The company has proposed construction of a two-story, 120-bed rehabilitation and convalescent center.

The authority granted by the board in February was to authorize Wade "to cause to have performed any actions needed, and to set the price as discussed in executive session, to sell the Kuhn Road property," according to meeting minutes.

Wade said legally speaking, that could have given him the power to sign a contract without consulting with the rest of the board. But he said he wouldn't have done so, in the interest of transparency.

Wade had scheduled a special board meeting May 8 to vote on a contract to sell the property, but the newly elected board was sworn in a week before -- all in an attempt to prevent the outgoing board from trying to sell the land.

On Wednesday, the newly seated board members took part in a ceremonial swearing in before the regularly scheduled board meeting with DuPage County Associate Judge Rob Douglas, the former library board president who swore them in officially two weeks ago. Library Attorney Stewart Diamond said the early oath-taking, though unconventional, was legal.

Last week, the new board called a special meeting to direct Library Director Susan Westgate to find up to three outside commercial real estate attorneys to provide a "fresh" perspective, Bailey said, on the pending contract with ManorCare. Westgate said she sent letters to attorneys in Carol Stream, Wheaton and Winfield, and some or all of them could appear at an upcoming meeting where trustees could vote to hire one of them.

Bailey previously said he had "reason and cause to be suspicious" about the negotiations conducted by Wade, which led to Bailey filing a Freedom of Information Act request with Westgate for Wade's email exchanges with attorneys and realtors. Through Westgate, Wade provided the emails, but they were heavily redacted, with Wade citing attorney-client privilege.

Wade said during the public participation portion of Wednesday night's meeting that the FOIA response was handled in a "truthful and pristine manner," and Library Attorney Britt Isaly advised him to redact the portions he did.

Wade said Bailey never personally asked him for the emails, but if he did, he would have provided them without redactions, as a fellow library trustee.

Bailey said he thought FOIA would be the most expedient way to get the information.

Ken Muehlfelt of Realty Executives, hired by the old board last year to market the property, told the new board Wednesday that the contract is currently being reviewed by attorneys for the library and ManorCare.

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