Rolling Meadows council candidates talk Dominick's, fire stations
Rolling Meadows' contested aldermanic races pit two incumbent aldermen against two longtime city residents, who all have their ideas on development of the former Dominick's site and whether the city should relocate its fire stations.
Current Ward 4 Alderman Brad Judd, seeking a third 4-year term, is being challenged by Joe Gallo, an engineering consultant whose family has deep roots in Rolling Meadows.
Ward 6 Alderman John D'Astice is also seeking a third term, though he also served as alderman from 1993 to 2005 until stepping down because of a city rule limiting aldermen to no more than three consecutive terms. He is running against Tom Trapani, a retired city plumbing inspector, former longtime park board commissioner and member of the plan commission.
In Ward 2, Jerome Hill is running unopposed to replace Len Prejna, who is running for mayor.
Ward 4, bounded by Kirchoff Road, Central Road, New Wilke Road and Salt Creek, includes the site of the now-demolished Dominick's building on Kirchoff -- an 11-acre site where various redevelopment proposals have fallen through or been rejected since the grocer left in 2004.
Judd favors a mixed-use residential and retail combination, as long as any residential units are owner-occupied and not rentals. That includes condos, townhouses, rowhomes or single-family homes, he said.
Gallo, a first-time candidate, says he decided to run for alderman after attending a public hearing at city hall last year on South Bay Partners' request to rezone the property from commercial to residential to allow a senior housing development.
Gallo also favors a mixed use for the site -- hoping it becomes a "social and economic hub" -- while being open to condos and other residential uses that "resemble" styles of homes in the neighborhood.
Across the street from the Dominick's site is Fire Station 15, 3111 Meadow Drive, which fire department officials have proposed closing and replacing with a new station to the south to improve emergency response times. As part of the plan, Fire Station 16 at 2455 S. Plum Grove Road would be replaced with a station to the east.
Judd says he's been in favor of the plan from the beginning, since the $9 million upfront cost to build new stations would be cheaper in the long run than building a third station and hiring additional personnel.
Gallo didn't commit to a position on the fire stations, saying he has to do more research on what the relocations would mean logistically and financially for the city.
As the part of town farthest to the south, Ward 6 would stand to benefit most from a relocation of Station 15 -- which both D'Astice and Trapani favor.
"We need to be able to get there in six minutes," said D'Astice, referring to businesses and residents near the Golf Road corridor.
However Trapani doesn't agree with moving Station 16. D'Astice said not moving both would be a safety hazard since there would be coverage gaps in town.
On the Dominick's property, D'Astice has proposed the city buy a portion and broker a land-lease deal to attract a small restaurant, since without city involvement operating expenses would be too high. Whatever the uses, the property should be a "destination location" since Kirchoff isn't a major thoroughfare, he says, suggesting everything from an outdoor sports big box store to a multigenerational sports complex.
Trapani favors commercial or a mixed use for the site, but was skeptical about D'Astice's land-lease idea.
"I don't think the city needs any more debt," Trapani said.