Mundelein trustees are considering forcibly buying land along Hawley Street so a long-awaited road project can move forward.
The board on Monday gave Village Administrator John Lobaito permission to negotiate deals with the owners of the land being eyed. The board also authorized Lobaito to acquire the land through legal eminent domain proceedings.
Plans target a roughly one-mile stretch of Hawley Street between Midlothian Road and Seymour Avenue. It's an old street and very bumpy.
"All you have to do is drive out there to tell that street is in dire need of repair," Lobaito said during Monday's board meeting.
The road will be repaved and widened with a center turn lane. New storm and sanitary sewers are in the works, too, as is a bike path that will connect to an existing path at Midlothian Road.
The project, a partnership with Lake County officials, is expected to take two years and cost $8 million. The county is involved because it maintains that stretch of Hawley.
The village will fund the necessary engineering work and utility improvements, while the county will pay for other aspects of construction.
"Time is really of the essence. The funding won't be there forever," Lobaito said.
To make the improvements, village officials say they need to acquire land in front of 40 properties on Hawley Street, including homes. On average, about 4 feet of land is needed on each parcel, officials said.
The plans won't require any homes to be demolished or for people to move, officials said.
Village officials met with some of the affected property owners last year about the scope of the project.
As of earlier this month, agreements have been reached with 16 owners for purchases or easements through the land.
"For the most part residents have been very amenable," Lobaito said. "They see the benefit in the improvements we're going to make."
Village officials hope to negotiate purchases with the other owners.
Some owners haven't responded to offers from the village, and some have rejected the offers. Some of the properties are in foreclosure, leaving officials to deal with banks.
In some cases, village officials haven't been able to reach the heirs of deceased owners.
If attempts at negotiations are unsuccessful, they could go to Lake County court to forcibly acquire the desired land through eminent domain.
Mundelein officials haven't considered using eminent domain to seize property in at least 40 years, according to a news release.
"I think our village just needs to know we're serious about Hawley Street," Mayor Steve Lentz said.
The Hawley Street corridor is among Mundelein's most traveled local roads.
The village's downtown district is on the eastern end of the project zone. Moving west, the area is mostly residential.
Sandburg Middle School, Mundelein High School and the Community Protestant Church are among Hawley's landmarks.