With visions of a new train station, Des Plaines to purchase more land on Oakton Street

Des Plaines is going to purchase more property on Oakton Street as part of an ongoing mission to land a Metra commuter rail station.

The adjoining, undeveloped parcels are at 1374 E. Oakton and 1384 E. Oakton. That's the north side of Oakton between Lee and Center streets, just east of the railroad tracks that are part of Metra's North Central Service line between Antioch and Chicago.

"Its proximity to the potential train station would make it useful for parking structures," city spokeswoman Maureen Stern said.

The city council on Monday voted 6-1 to pursue forcibly purchasing the land using eminent domain, even though the family that owns the land is willing to sell.

Officials said they're using the maneuver to get around a tax issue one of the current owners faces.

"They couldn't sign (the deal)," City Manager Mike Bartholomew told the council Monday night. "If they can't sign it, they can't transfer the property to us."

Attorneys for all the involved parties agree that eminent domain "is the best mechanism for us to own those properties," Bartholomew said.

The properties will cost $290,000, documents indicate.

Alderman Dick Sayad of the 4th Ward voted against the proposal Monday. Aldermen Patsy Smith of the 7th Ward and Alderman Mike Charewicz of the 8th Ward were absent.

Mayor Andrew Goczkowski had to vote because a supermajority of the council was needed, and he supported the plan.

A stop on the North Central line is a key part of the city's plans for that part of town.

Des Plaines' two current train stations both are on the Union Pacific Northwest Line that runs between Chicago's Ogilvie Transportation Center and Harvard and McHenry. One is downtown on Miner Street; the other is the Cumberland stop on Northwest Highway.

An Oakton Street station on the North Central line would give riders a direct trip to O'Hare International Airport and Chicago Union Station. It also could alleviate parking issues at the city's other stations and encourage redevelopment in the Oakton corridor, a 2019 study indicated.

Metra would have to approve a new station.

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