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SHARPWATCH

Community Watch Group of Olympia Fields          www.sharpwatcholympiafields.com

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Tolentine Park

The last thing we needed is a terribly located / unwanted park that’s going to be far more detrimental than beneficial for our overtaxed residents. Isn’t it interesting how they timed the start of construction the week after their assumed referendum passage.  Homeowners we’ve spoken to ponder the same questions:

- Why ?

- Who’s going to use it ?

- Was the referendum money really for this sham ?

- Now that their referendum failed, what will they try next to maintain this gratuitous project ?

Will the maintenance of existing parks suffer from the financial burden of Tolentine ?

If they couldn’t afford to maintain tiny Stamper Park, how can they afford this ?

-  How can they possibly afford the annual bond installments ?

-  Is another referendum looming, to get out of the hole they’ve dug themselves into ?

                                     

 

                                                    

 

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“The Park District’s answer is that the park was built for the Tolentine Development. Trustee Ormsby stated that her problem with that is that the Tolentine Development hasn’t been on the books for four-years”

 

 Timeline

- May, 2009            Tolentine Developer pleads guilty in Mortgage fraud scheme

- July 19, 2010       Tolentine Developer sentenced to prison  DEVELOPER SENTENCED

- Oct. 11, 2010       MINUTES OF THE VILLAGE OF OLYMPIA FIELDS REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES  held on October 11, 2010 BUILDING:  Report on the sale of property commonly known as “The Tolentine Subdivision,” the potential sale of the “Tolentine Monastery” and the Real Estate listing for the “Olympia Club Condominium Site” – Trustee Ormsby stated that there is a Memorandum in the Board Packet. The Tolentine Subdivision that was going to be “Madison Homes” has been sold. It was transferred to the Bank of Country Side and St. James Hospital has bought it. The idea is that it will probably be used for expansion by the hospital. It will not be used for the “Madison Homes.” This will necessitate rezoning and a change in the PUD. 

- May 22, 2011      Olympia Fields works on park  Southtown Star  May 22, 2011

A zero-depth splash pad, basketball hoops and community garden will be part of the newest park in Olympia Fields.

Tolentine Park, at Crawford Avenue and 207th Street, should be ready by August, according to park district executive director Denise Will.

“The construction just began about two weeks ago,” she said. “We’re really excited about it.”

The property, which the park district has owned since the 1970s, is adjacent to 80 acres of undeveloped land next to the Tolentine Monastery on Governors Highway, she said.

That land was set to be developed into a residential area in 2009, Will said. That’s when the park district applied for — and received — a $400,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

“The park was going to be built in conjunction with the housing development,” Will said. “It just made more sense to do it when they started to develop the property.”

“We found out we were awarded the grant right before the housing crash,” she said. “I don’t know what the plan for the adjacent property is, but we have a grant so we’re going forth with development of the property.”

The balance of the $1.4 million construction is being funded with general obligation bonds which were issued in January, she said.

While the 10-acre park will include a walking trail, a playground and nature sounds on motion-activated signs in a garden, Will said she’s most excited about the splash pad and the community garden.

“Our park district doesn’t have a swimming pool,” she said. “The splash pad is somewhere for people to go to cool off on a hot day. It’s definitely a family experience. A lot of people think splash pads are just for kids, but the adults are more than welcome to be there.”

Residents have been asking for a community garden for a while, she said.

“When you think about community gardens, you think about them being in urban areas,” she said. “However, in the suburbs people are looking for a place to gather, to socialize, where people who share the passion of gardening can collaborate and get together.”

The park’s official groundbreaking will be 10 a.m. June 4.

 

-  January 28, 2013   MINUTES OF THE VILLAGE OF OLYMPIA FIELDS REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES held on January 28, 2013

Mrs. Will stated that when they built the park we had a better economy earlier on and they had planned on having curbs and gutters along with a brand new subdivision there. She stated that things would have been a lot different. Now they have to deal with the reality of the situation. Mrs. Will stated that she is optimistic that in the future they will be able to get the speed limit lowered if we could have residences in that Tolentine area.

 

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Is the financial burden of Tolentine the reason for the poor maintenance of Olympia Fields’ parks ?

 

UNMAINTAINED PARKS 2011

 

 

Olympia Fields residents decry park conditions

Southtownstar June 28, 2011

 

The parks in Olympia Fields are not being mowed or weeded on time, several residents told park board officials.

It is completely deplorable,” resident Lisa McGill told officials at a meeting last week. “I don't care whose job it is. Something needs to be done.”

Carolyn Harrison is a commuter who passes through Bicentennial Park each day on her way to the train. “I enjoy the park,” she said. “There are benches where you can sit down and enjoy the scenery, but it’s difficult when the grass is 12-inches high and there are weeds shooting out from every direction and you witness children having to step over the weeds to get to the play area.”

This is the first year Olympia Fields has kept the park maintenance in-house, park district executive director Denise Will said. Before last April, all landscape maintenance and mowing was contracted out, she said. “It cost a phenomenal amount of money,” she said. “It got to be out of control.”

 The park district began to slowly take over the maintenance responsibilities to save money, she said. “I'm not saying we're faultless,” she said. “But it was a challenging season.”The rain and heat this spring sped the growth of grass and weeds, and wet grass often kept mowers out of the park, she said. “It was a combination of things,” she said. “Mother Nature had a part.”

The apparent neglect of the parks breeds neglect, Harrison told the board. “Those children that live in our community and pass through from the high school — if they notice we're not taking care of our community, then they won't care about it either,” she said. “You'll see more trash and dog mess.”

Park District President Tim Bradford said he agreed with the residents.

“I've seen the outrageous and deplorable condition of the park myself,” he said. “On Memorial Day kids couldn't even play in Maynegaite Park, and we're not going to blame it on the rain.”

Several of the private contractors have been re-hired and a schedule has been set for both staff and contractors, he said. “There were changes that have been made in the past two weeks and they will continue to be taken to rectify this situation,” he said. “These parks should be in pristine condition at all times because that’s what our residents expect.”

McGill said she would hold Bradford to his word.

“If I have to email back again next year, or even next week, there’s a serious problem,” she said.

 

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Tolentine Park – Project Update – 8-22-2011 Trustee Ormsby stated that last week we had a meeting with the Park District regarding their new park project across Governors Highway at 207th Street. Denise Will was present. There were representatives there from the architect, landscaper, builder and contractor that are involved in the building of the new park. Tim Bradford, the President of the Park District Board was present. Administrator Mekarski, Trustee Ormsby and Trustee Nale were present at the meeting. Sergeant Scott Morgan from the Olympia Fields Police Department was present at the meeting. Trustee Ormsby requested the meeting with the Village President for an understanding of the layout of the park. Trustee Ormsby stated that her biggest issue is safety.

Trustee Ormsby stated that at the meeting they discussed at length how people are going to get to the park by crossing Governors Highway at 207th Street. There isn’t a good solution at this juncture. She stated that everyone agrees that it is a very dangerous crossing. IDOT will be contacted to see if lights can be placed there to slow traffic down. She stated that there is a possibility of having a bike path all the way up to 203rd Street. She doesn’t know how logical it is that the people that live on 207th Street will go to 203rd Street to get into the park. Trustee Ormsby stated that we cannot put a streetlight there.

The Village cannot make a cross hatch to get across. She stated that until we get a solution she is not very comfortable with the crossing there. The Park District assumes that a lot of people will drive to the park. She stated that we have Arcadia School and if you are taking kids across there that is an issue if you live in that neighborhood. She stated that if you cross anywhere along there, you still have to go across Governors Highway. At this point no one has a solution. There is going to be another meeting to discuss this. The Park District is aware that this is the Village’s number one concern.

Trustee Pennington inquired of Trustee Ormsby if the Park District admitted to the fact that they did not put that into their planning. Trustee Ormsby stated no. Trustee Pennington inquired if there was an indication by the engineers or the architects for the project on how the people would get into the park. Trustee Ormsby stated no. Trustee Ormsby stated that Baxter & Woodman are surprised that IDOT let that happen. She stated that even if you get across Governors Highway at 207th Street you go right into the driveway for the park. The driveway will have cars coming in. There isn’t a side path that you can get on if you cross Governors Highway at 207th Street and not be in the line of traffic. Trustee Ormsby stated that the Park District’s answer is that the park was built for the Tolentine Development. They assumed that it would be a walk-able park. Trustee Ormsby stated that her problem with that is that the Tolentine Development hasn’t been on the books for four-years. She stated that it would have been nice if they had revisited that.

Trustee Ormsby stated that the Park District knows how important it is to the Village, and how imperative it is to the Village that they address it. She stated that she walked across Governors Highway at 207th Street. She would not recommend that for anybody to do. 

Village President Meyers-Martin stated that it is very scary. She stated that we were there for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and there was no parking available at the site so they had to park at the Old Village Hall. She stated that it was scary trying to cross Governors Highway. Village President Meyers-Martin was at the first meeting with Tim Bradford and Trustee Ormsby where those issues were brought up, and there were some options that were discussed as far as this walkway across Governors Highway. She is aware that Trustee Ormsby has reached out to IDOT regarding changing the speed limit on Governors Highway at 207th Street.

Village President Meyers-Martin does not believe that the engineers for the Park District were on top of this project at all regardless that it was originally designed for Tolentine. She stated that there had to be access across Governors Highway for that residential area across the street and that was never taken into consideration. She stated that the Park District is a separate entity from the Village and the Village has no control over their plans. Village President Meyers-Martin stated that this is very disappointing to the Village to now be trying to revisit this issue of safety now that ground has been broken and all of this work has been done. It is her intention to continue having these meetings, and to work with the Park District and make the best of a bad situation. 

Trustee Ormsby stated that Trustee Nale was at the meeting too. Trustee Ormsby stated that at this point we may have to put a sign stating “You May Not Cross on Foot to This Park.” She stated that you can’t put “Cross at Your Own Risk” because that assumes that you can cross.

Village President Meyers-Martin stated that she spoke with Chief Chudwin about this. She inquired if the police representative who attended the meeting had any input as far as the crossing issue other than changing it.

Trustee Ormsby stated that she suggested striping the street so that cars would slow down and you could cross the street. Sergeant Morgan had stated that IDOT would never let you do that because that is a bigger danger because traffic will slam into each other. She stated that you can’t put a light there because then you would have to have another lane as a turn lane. 

Village President Meyers-Martin stated that IDOT has been less than diligent because how did they allow this. The Park District had stated that IDOT had let it go. Trustee Ormsby stated that the Village worked on the egress for CVS for three-years before IDOT agreed to it. Trustee Ormsby stated that this is a park where children are involved. She was very frustrated during the meeting with the Park District. The Park District is aware that the Village’s number one priority is to have a great park, but not to keep people safe getting into it is a huge disappointment. 

Trustee Waite suggested putting an overhead bridge there. Trustee Ormsby stated that it will cost about a quarter of a Million Dollars to do that. It has to be ADA accessible at this point so a ramp would have to be placed halfway down 207th Street. She stated unless people go all the way down to 203rd Street and cross on a path that is not built and there is no money for it. 

Village President Meyers-Martin stated that the Village must remain vigilant in having the Park District address that issue going forward with this because the possibilities of a tragedy are huge.

Trustee Ormsby stated that the park is a draw already because some of the equipment is up. She stated that there are already people slowing down to look at the park. She stated that if you are coming out of the park and you want to turn left it will be very difficult.

She stated it is similar to making a left turn out of 207th Street which is a very difficult left turn. She stated that the Village can move some of that brush way back to make it a cleaner turn. She thought that she could get a little more clearing on the south side of 207th Street.

Village President Meyers-Martin stated that the speed limit is higher on that section of Governors Highway. She stated that at that juncture the speed limit is 50-miles an hour. 

Trustee Ormsby stated that is her turn and you are lucky if they are going 50. She stated people are going 60, 70-miles an hour. She wanted to emphasize that once you get inside the park it is a beautiful park. It is very, very pretty. She suggested that the Village President and the Trustees take a look at the park and walk through it. 

Trustee Ormsby stated that you can’t walk across if you are on 207th Street on the south side of the street. It is very, very difficult walking up that side. She stated that you have to walk up the north side because if people turn off of Governors Highway and come down you will be hit.

Trustee Pennington inquired of Trustee Ormsby what the next steps are. Trustee Ormsby stated that we are going to try to have a meeting with the same group of people so that the Village President can sit in on a meeting with them before our Team Building Meeting. Trustee Ormsby asked the Park District for a report that she can present at each Board Meeting.

Administrator Mekarski stated that Baxter & Woodman have been directed to ask their Traffic Engineer to look at what the Village can do on Governors Highway in terms of:

A. Slowing down traffic, B. Asking IDOT to put some warning lights and signage indicating “Children at Play,” “Slow Down” or whatever the case may be. Once the Village receives that correspondence it will be presented to the Board at an upcoming Board Meeting. Administrator Mekarski stated that there is an old bike path that the Village didn’t have match for on the books. The Village is going to see if it is still on the books and see if it can be reprogrammed, and see if there is a possibility of putting a bike path going from 207th up to 203rd on the east side of Governors Highway, and crossing at a signalized intersection, and then going down the west side of Governors Highway to the park. It will be cumbersome but it will be safe. Baxter & Woodman has been asked to evaluate that.

Trustee Ormsby stated that she is being more than vigilant. She hopes that they can get some answers before the next meeting. She will have Administrator Mekarski send an e-mail to the Board letting the Trustees know when the next walk-through of the park will be. She stated that once you get there the park is very, very nice inside. It will be a big asset to the community.

Trustee Pennington inquired of Trustee Ormsby if it was still the Park District’s plan to open the park in October. Trustee Ormsby stated that she doesn’t think that they will meet that date. Administrator Mekarski stated the spring of next year. 

Trustee Ormsby stated that she addressed the fact there is now climbing equipment on the site and that people will start walking over there. Trustee Ormsby advised the Park District that they have to make sure that people are aware that the park is not open. The Park District agreed that was a good idea and they will get some signage up. The police do not want to close off the entrance into the park because they want to be able to drive in there to make sure it is safe. 

Village President Meyers-Martin stated that the police should do extra patrolling of that area because in spite of the signs people tend to do what they want to do. The Village will ask the police to exercise due diligence there. Trustee Ormsby stated that is a good point. 

Trustee Waite inquired if the Village should put signs up saying “Park Closed.” “No Admittance.” Administrator Mekarski stated that the Village doesn’t have jurisdiction over the Park District.

 

 

Park District Referendum Tax Figures are FALSE !!!

Contrary to the Information the Park District has been peddling to the whole Village, the Media, and the Cook County Clerk, the annual increase to your tax bill will be over 3 times what the Park District stated: the district said it believes residents will support the property tax increase, which is estimated to be $13.60 per $100,000 in assessed property value. For example, if a resident's property is worth $300,000 they would see a $40.80 increase.

The Actual Increase will be:

$100,000 property value = $45.83

$300,000 property value = $137.50

 

TAX HIKE BALLOTS IN ERROR

 

PARK DISTRICT REFERENDUM

 

 

COMPARISION OF PARK DISTRICT

TAX RATES IN COOK COUNTY

 

TAX HIKE BALLOTS IN ERROR

 

 

 

Olympia Fields officials look for ways to build water main

Southtown Star July 3, 2011

 

The village of Olympia Fields has rejected much of the park district’s plans to lay a pipe to supply the splash pad at the new Tolentine Park, according to village administrator David Mekarski.

The original agreement between the village and the park district called for a 12-inch water main, which would benefit the proposed housing development adjacent to the park and be repaid by the developer, Mekarski said.

With the collapse of the housing market, the development stalled and the land was sold to St. James Hospital. Any time line for development and repayment is uncertain, he said.

The discovery of a “spaghetti bowl” of utilities under Governors Highway doubled the water main cost, leaving the park district unable to continue if it had to pay for it, park district director Denise Will said.

Will wrote a letter to village officials asking them to drop the water main requirement, pay for it or allow the park district to install a well, she said. But installing the well would violate village law, she said.

The village’s response “leaves the door open to consider downsizing that line but makes a number of conditions,” Mekarski told the village board last week.

The park district proposed cutting 207th Street, “but we just got that paved,” he said.

The park district wanted to slip in the line without a casing, but the Illinois Department of Transportation requires the pipe to be inside another pipe to protect it from being frozen or crushed.

And the park district’s plan to tap into an existing 6-inch main would affect water pressure, he said.

Mekarski suggested St. James pay for the main up front because it will be the primary beneficiary. Officials from the village and park district plan to meet again to discuss their concerns.

 

 

Proposed water line a problem for Olympia Fields park plan

Southtown Star  June 20, 2011

 

Development of Tolentine Park in Olympia Fields has hit a snag, with the cost of installing a water line twice the $70,000 to $80,000 original estimate, according to park district executive director Denise Will.

Installation of a water main through the park was required several years by the village in order to service a planned housing development just north of the park, Will said.

“We agreed, but since then we’ve had the housing crash, and (the development has) gone into foreclosure and out, and who knows if there will ever be housing there,” Will told the park board Monday night.

The cost of installing the water line jumped because contractors found a “spaghetti bowl” of utilities — gas, electric and fiber-optic lines — under Governors Highway, according to Will.

“They might have to go down nine feet and jog (to put in the line),” she said, adding that if workers damage the fiber optics the cost would be enormous.

“The original cost is outstanding, but when you double it, it’s a deal breaker. We can’t do it,” she said. “We’d like to see if (the village) would let us put our two-inch pipe in and be done with it.”

Park board president Tim Bradford said he would set up a meeting with village officials to discuss the water line issue.

The original estimate to develop the 10-acre park was $1.4 million.

 

 

 

August 23, 2010

On May 20, 2008 The Olympia Fields Park District hosted a meeting to get input from the residents regarding their Tolentine Park Development Plan. Residents were against it then, and they remain opposed to this idea today.

 

After years of rejecting alternative plans  from the Village Government, The Park District has decided to use the funds they received to build this project.  We feel this is poor judgment for they could have been better off spending money on parks that are now centrally located  in our community where the majority of our population could use its services.

 

We already pay extremely high property taxes to the Olympia Fields Park District, therefore, we demand they focus on providing more "free" indoor and after  school recreational/athletic programs for our Olympia Fields youth! Criminologists have repeatedly  stated that many of the abnormal social behavior by many young people are the results of the absence of free and available  recreational programs in communities. The Park District has none, so why are we paying them high taxes, if there are no such programs?

 

Other than supplying the Village Government with a retention pond, the Tolentine Park location is a bad idea.  How many of our Olympia Fields residents would be attracted to this park? Was a study completed and assessed to determine its use? Many of the participants that will use this facility would probably come from other towns, as our children would have to cross Governors Highway which is both very busy and dangerous .

 

Can the Village Government "guarantee" that the Park District will forever maintain this very large plot of land or will we once again  be stuck with this cost? If the Park District can’t even afford to maintain tiny Stamper Park, how can they afford to maintain this monstrosity ?

 

This park would be built on "vacant and isolated" land which is now void of housing and bordered by woods at Crawford, 207th ,and Governors Highway. More importantly, has security been assessed for the Tolentine Park's location, especially at night?  it could become a haven for criminals. It's a desolate area  which could  serve as an open invitation to  individuals who  may have bad intentions, Don't expect Chief Chudwin to assign a full time policeman to this park to guard against these criminal elements!

 

The Olympia Fields Tax Payers already pay the "third" highest property taxes in the South land, and now the Olympia Fields Park District wants to possibly place an additional financial burden on our Village by constructing this Park. As Trustee Martin-Meyers stated at the Trustee Meeting, they are saying they have no money! If they have no money then why are they building this park?

 

We want an answer to this same question. 

 

We would also like clarification to the question posed by Trustee Ormsby (during the same meeting)  who asked if the Village would have to take care of this new park if the Olympia Fields Park District defaults on not taking care of it.

 

President Jones stated that “We (Village Board) will face that when the issue comes up.” 

 

 Mayor Jones' answer is not good enough!  If it "comes up", by then it will be too late!  Mayor Jones' response was too vague and indefinite. What does he mean "We", President Jones won't  even be here!

 

We asked that you say "No" to this ill planned ill advised development, for it appears that the Park District's main initiative now, as Trustee Gibson stated  "They are trying to spend the Grant money before it expires" without regards to the consequences.  Before it is built will there be a written and binding contract that states they, The Park District,  will exclusively maintain this park ad infinitum, and  be responsible for providing security and safety to our Olympia Fields residents.

 

We should be both extremely cautious, and also outraged, that such an agreement between the Village and the Park District would be considered for constructing a park, at this time.  As concerned citizens, we ask that you send a letter of protest, or a signed petition, to the Village Government saying that you adamantly and totally  object to the building of  the Tolentine Park Development for it is yet another wasteful pork barrel/ boondoggle, of the spending of our tax dollars on a “Park to Nowhere” .

 

Remember:  If you do nothing, you become a part of the problems that will be inherent to this park when there are increased crimes in West Olympia Fields?  

Click to see:

OLYMPIA FIELDS PARK DISTRICT SALARIES

 

park to nowhere

$$$

Exactly how much is Tolentine Park

 costing homeowners in annual bond payments ?

SOURCE