Des Plaines park board will take vote tonight on Mariano's access
The first step to securing a new Mariano's in Des Plaines could be decided by the park board tonight.
The board of commissioners is expected to consider an agreement that could give a developer permission to use part of a neighboring park to provide better access to a proposed Mariano's.
If approved, the agreement could pave the way for the popular grocer to build a new store on the 9-acre site of a shuttered bus garage on the northeast corner of Golf and Mount Prospect roads. A number of other approvals from other governmental entities, including the city and state Department of Transportation, would still be needed.
The Daily Herald reported last July that representatives of Mariano's were interested in opening a store at the former Motor Coach Industries property, located next door to Blackhawk Park at 190 E. Golf Road.
An agreement with the park district would be necessary to secure space for a driveway and new traffic light on Golf Road. City officials have said a new light on Golf would have to be far enough from the current streetlight at the intersection of Golf and Mount Prospect.
That would require taking some of the park land east of the former bus company site.
"None of this happens without the park. That's going to be the access. It's what has to happen," said George Sakas, Des Plaines' director of community and economic development, who previously confirmed that "food purveyors" have taken a look at the site.
Alderman Mark Walsten, chairman of the city council's community development committee, told the Daily Herald last July that Mariano's was looking to open a store there, and it was as many as two years before that he first contacted a Mariano's official to encourage him to consider Des Plaines.
Alderman Dick Sayad, whose 4th Ward includes the site of the shuttered bus barn, said any proposed development there would be "wonderful." He said Mariano's representatives have done preliminary searches to see if the property at Golf and Mount Prospect is feasible.
Sayad said the park board meeting tonight is a "steppingstone."
"If they do come, we would of course welcome them, and I think it would be a plus for the city and ward," Sayad said. "That area's been blighted for a long time. We're trying, but they have to come and say they want to be there. Nothing's in granite."
Opposition to a Mariano's, or another big box store at the bus site, recently surfaced with the distribution of "No Mariano's" fliers to homes in the neighborhood, and an accompanying Facebook page. The flier said a Mariano's could lead to an increase in traffic, light and noise pollution, higher property taxes and flooding.
Sayad said those who made the fliers "don't know the whole story."
"I don't think they have all the information," he said.
Sakas said the site currently has no stormwater detention, but if something is built there, detention would be required under Metropolitan Water Reclamation District ordinance.
Sakas also said the development could be eligible for a Cook County tax incentive, which would allow for the property to be assessed at lower levels for 12 years.
Don Miletic, the park district's executive director, said Monday that discussions were continuing about the Blackhawk Park agreement, which will be considered by the park board today. He said additional details about the agreement could be made public after the meeting.
The park board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at 2222 Birch St.