Legislation that would sell the shuttered Tinley Park Mental Health Center to the Tinley Park-Park District for $1 has passed the Illinois Senate and could come up for a concurring vote in the House as soon as Wednesday, according to state Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort.
The property has been at the center of a tug-of-war between the Park District and the village, with both looking to acquire the 280 acres northwest of the intersection of Harlem Avenue and 183rd Street.
Both the village and Park District last year expressed interest with the state in acquiring the land, with the Park District proposing recreational uses and the village looking to generate a revenue producing development at the site.
The legislation was approved Friday by the Senate and sent back to the House for final approval. That could happen by the end of this week, Hastings said.
Before any sale or redevelopment could occur, millions of dollars would need to be spent to clean up environmental problems with the property, and who might foot the bill for that remains up in the air.
The property had at one point been considered a site for a combination harness race track and casino, but Hastings said the pending legislation prohibits any gambling development on the site.
The Park District plans include a domed, regulation-size soccer field and a stadium with a running track.
The village is proposing a mixed-use entertainment district that would “be a powerful economic engine” producing tax revenue and make Tinley Park “an all around-destination to live, work and play,” Mayor Michael Glotz said in a January posting on the village’s website.
The village’s aim is to have a development that would complement assets such as an outdoor music theater and several hotels that are adjacent to the state-owned property.
Village officials previously said they had a tentative deal with the state to buy the property for $4.5 million. Negotiations aimed at finalizing a sale were ended by the state, according to the village.
The land, no matter who ends up controlling it, is zoned for light industrial uses and any changes would need approval from the Tinley Park Village Board, said Pat Carr, village manager.
He said village officials understand that the House bill that includes the land transfer still has to receive final clearance from the House in the legislation’s amended form.
“At the end of the day they would still have to come to us” for any zoning changes that would permit a recreational development, Carr said. “At this point in time, the sports complex doesn’t meet the requirements of the zoning.”
The House bill that the Tinley Park land issue is tacked originally proposed to make each September Alopecia Awareness Month in Illinois. Alopecia is a disease that affects the body’s immune system and attacks hair follicles, causing hair loss and usually occurring on the head and face.
The amendment from Hastings calls for the state to transfer the property to the Park District for “public purposes only, including recreation and conversation,” according to the amendment’s language. Should the property be developed for gambling uses, the land would revert to the state, according to the amendment.
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Hastings said he supports the Park District proposal, in part because to support from legislators near the site.
“The people want a park there,” Hastings said. “They want things that are going to benefit the community.”
The village has maintained private development would bring property and sales tax revenue to the village, and that the costs of an environmental cleanup could be shared with a developer.
Hastings contends the village didn’t meet a deadline established by the state’s Central Management Services agency, which controls the site, to file a comprehensive plan for its proposed use.
Carr denied that, saying village officials have held regular meetings with CMS about the property.
“Not only did we meet (the deadline) but we were talking with them every couple of weeks,” he said.