The Carol Stream Library board formally has put to bed a $1.35 million offer for property once earmarked for a new library, voting to send a rejection letter to the prospective buyer.
Two months after deciding to delay the sale of the 7.5-acre site at 2N540 Kuhn Road and instead temporarily offer it for use by the park district, the board voted to turn down a bid from ManorCare. The Toledo, Ohio-based nursing home company wanted to build a two-story, 120-bed nursing rehabilitation center on the site.
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The board in April agreed to the pending contract with ManorCare, but the sale was put on hold when a new board majority was seated. Board President Jim Bailey, with four other trustees elected in April on the Support the Library slate, has long voiced reservations with ManorCare's bid.
"We're preserving the option on the property to sell it at a future date," Bailey said. "We'll keep the land. It's still an investment. It's only going to get better. Land usually does not go down in value."
Trustee David DeRango, who voted against the rejection letter, said he "forced the issue" at the last meeting by suggesting the letter be put on the agenda.
"If we're going to reject it, let's reject it. Let's not sit on it and let time run out," DeRango said. "That's poor business practice."
The library bought the site in 2003 with the intent to construct a new facility there, but voters rejected that plan in three separate referendum questions.
A September survey of 541 residents found 48 percent favored holding onto the land and partnering with the park district while a plan is developed to address the future public use of the space or use of proceeds from a sale.
The library board subsequently voted 5-2 to sign an agreement with the park district to put a park on the vacant land.
DeRango voted with Trustee Dominick Jeffrey against that decision. Jeffrey was not at Wednesday's meeting, but DeRango made it clear he was for selling the property, too.
"They're talking about a walking path, a picnic area, a garden area, and I'm like 'Really?'" DeRango said. "We already have Armstrong Park in ruins sitting on their hands. I want the taxpayers to know we're denying $1.35 million to the library that would be a boon. We could have more programs, we wouldn't have to raise taxes for eight years. And they just don't want it."
Bailey said Trustee Ed Jourdan, chairman of the facilities committee, has met with park district officials to sound out their interest in the land, "and they are overwhelmingly interested."
Bailey said a preliminary plan has been sketched out with a picnic area and running track, and the park district would take full responsibility for its upkeep. The agreement has not been formally drafted .
"There is no financial burden on the library to take care of the land," Bailey said. "If somebody comes in and offers us what we believe the land is worth, we do have that option."