Friday, September 9, 2011

Breaking News Orland Park: Letter from Trustee Brad O'Halloran on Ninety7Fifty "Mr. Mayor, I respectfully must disagree"

Bookmark and Share

Letter from Trustee Brad O'Halloran on Ninety7fifty
Mr. Mayor, I respectfully must disagree.

I have been a Trustee in the Village of Orland Park for the past 18 years. While there have been many challenging issues during this time, none has had the potential economic impact on the Village’s finances to the degree the proposed “9750 On The Park” project will have. As such, it is the single biggest financial vote in 20 years. When I first became a trustee the Village’s overall debt was around  $18 million, today it is $79 million. The proposed 9750 project would almost double that debt to $144 million.  To put things in perspective, the 9750 project’s debt of $65 million is greater than the debt of the new police station, the Sportsplex, the new library, the new train station, the public works facility and the old police station renovation----COMBINED. Now that’s a big deal.

I received the final details of this deal in my weekly Village package on August 13th in the form of a 5 inch ring binder stuffed full of details. I’ve been trying to absorb them ever since. While it’s certainly true that I knew this project was in the works for quite some time, this was the first time I saw the final business terms and was given the third party report that analyzed the risk factors involved. In addition I always assumed there would be plenty of time for debate with public hearings and the traditional Village Committee process, prior to any final vote. Well, as we all now know the final vote is to occur at our next meeting on September 19th, after the public hearing this past Tuesday. So in addition to the statements I listened to on Monday, I’ve been soliciting my own input from the same neighbors, friends, former coaches and local business folk I’ve relied on for years and whose opinions I respect. And we’ve hit on some common themes.

1.)   This is no time for anyone to be doubling their amount of debt. If I wouldn’t do it as an individual or business, why would the Village ever consider it? If there is one common thread to the current problems in our state and country it is one thing, too much debt.

2.)   A partnership is just that. 50/50 or 60/40 or even 70/30, but 96/4, I don’t think so.

3.)   The Village has no business being in the Apartment business. If this is such a good idea then let the private sector have at it, but don’t risk my money by using public funds.

Of course there was a lot more banter, but those three were common to any discussion.

 So how did we get here today? Well, this project is perceived to be the linchpin of the Village’s downtown redevelopment. A vision the Mayor and this board have worked on for many years. A vision I must say I share and have supported to date. A vision that has been many, many years in the making. Unfortunately, I think with respect to the 9750 project maybe there’s been a little too much tunnel vision. Too much focus on the end result and the beautiful renderings and rosy projections and not enough focus on the economic uncertainty in both our state and country and the fact that these funds are the funds of our citizens. The same citizens that I have been so proud to represent for so many years. The same citizens that have entrusted me to represent them to the best of my ability.

The one thing I’ve always admired about the Village board and the Mayor is that we can disagree without being disagreeable. So in the end I guess I must concur with the folks I spoke with and the common sense input they offered and respectfully disagree with you Mr. Mayor and say no to the proposed financing of “9750 0n The Park “.           
                                                                                             Brad S. O’Halloran
                                                                                             Village Trustee                                                  
                                                                                             Finance Chairman
                                                                                             Village of Orland Park

No comments: