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Giving Residents a Voice


5th Avenue Development and Mayor Chirico's Leadership

On Tuesday, October 1, the Naperville City Council voted 6-3 against moving forward with Ryan Companies, Inc. (“Ryan”) on the proposed development of over 13 acres of City-owned land.

The following day, a resident posted an email exchange on the subject with Mayor Chirico on social media:

So Mayor Chirico is “…not going to lead on this any further…”

Let’s revisit exactly where the Mayor led on the proposed 5th Avenue development/transfer of City-owned land:

· A committee of 10 hand-picked by the Mayor, including 4 members of the Naperville Development Partnership board (“NDP”) (of which the Mayor is also a member) met behind closed doors, signed non-disclosure agreements, and decided to skip the proposed Request for Proposal process and instead pick Ryan on a no-bid basis. Ryan exec Jim McDonald also happens to be a member of the NDP board.

· Instead of a process of defining the project vision and scope, then putting the project out to bid, Ryan was chosen and charged with developing the vision and scope of the proposed project, a process many thought was backwards.

· A steering committee and various sub-committees were formed, and resident surveys were taken. Much of the input from both was ignored, particularly regarding height and density.

· The value of the City-owned 13+ acres of land would not be determined through a competitive process, but by an appraisal. A process which went against the City’s own policy on the disposition of public land.

· The ‘baseline’ proposal submitted by Ryan included a 72’ 4 story structure, a 72’ 5 story structure, an 84’ 5 story structure. Also included was a 55’ 676 stall commuter parking deck in the lot of the DuPage Children’s Museum. One of the proposed routes to the commuter parking structure went right past Washington Jr, High.

· City Council was asked to approve the ‘baseline’ proposal with no disclosure of the proposed economics to the City

So the project which Mayor Chirico led was presented to Council for a vote on October 1. Forty residents got up and spoke, 36 of which were against the proposal, and City Council voted 6-3 against “moving forward” with Ryan on the ‘baseline’ concept. A resounding rejection by residents and Council of where the Mayor led on this proposed project.

Considering how the process he led unfolded, and how soundly rejected it was by the citizens and Council, the Mayor’s written statement of “not going to lead any further” on the proposed project can only be a good thing for the City and its residents.

So, what now?

How about a new process, one in which Council holds several workshops, establishes parameters of what a development of the City-owned land at 5th Avenue should include and look like? The City then has a Request for Proposal (“RFP”) process, reviews the RFP’s and decides whether or not to move forward with the process, while also fully disclosing the proposed economics to the City.

You know, the way it should have been in the first place.

A fully transparent process, with scope and parameters set by Council, and an RFP, competitive bid process would be a way for the City to move forward on a potential development of publicly-owned land.

Pretty much the opposite of the process Mayor Chirico led.

Written by Mike Marek with assistance from one other.

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