Village considers name for proposed Soccer Complex

Rumors have it that the Lemont Board and Mayor are contemplating selecting a name for its proposed Soccer Complex: it is the "Lemont Brownfield Soccer Center". Admittedly, not a flashy attention getter. If true, the possible reasons for this rather premature move is probably twofold; first it shows their determination to pursue this project, in spite of no public input or demonstrated support, and secondly, it could be that rather than try to deflect and dismiss the significance of planning to build this facility on leased, contaminated land (owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District - MWRD) if they just boldly acknowledge the polluted status of the site, that it would somehow convince the parents that they have nothing to fear about the health of their children playing on a brownfield soccer field.

NOTE: For those of you readers not quite sure what a "Brownfield" really is, the following is how the website "homefacts.com" describes Lemont's very own Brownfield: "A Brownfield is any land in the United States that has been contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a candidate for cleanup because it poses a risk to human health and/or the environment. [It is] Real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or possible presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant."   

Under Illinois law, financial responsibility for Brownfield cleanup costs is the responsibility of the property owner, in this case the MWRD. Estimates for cleanup costs for this property have ranged between $500,000 and $1,000,000.
at first, the MWRD was willing to comply with the law and use its own funds to clean up its own property. However, because the Lemont Board and Mayor have continued to show interest in leasing this property, the MWRD, probably sensing an opportunity to save some of its money, have changed its position and now insists that Lemont taxpayers pay to clean up the MWRD's Brownfield property. Despite the highly doubtful legality of this expenditure of Lemont tax monies to pay the legally mandated costs of another taxing body, it is important to understand that the Lemont Village Board and the Mayor have repeatedly stated that once they were elected that they can do want they want, and that if we - the Lemont taxpayers - don't like it, then we can vote them out of office. That's pretty obvious, the problem for us is that they can do a lot of damage until then. It is also important to know that they remain absolutely determined to build this thing, whether we Lemonters want it or not.

Left unresolved is the second public relations problem facing the village by their plans to build the Lemont Brownfield Soccer Center next to the Sanitary and Ship Canal. While it is true that ships do ply its waters, the "Sanitary" part is really a misnomer since its contents includes some un-sanitary "stuff". according to Wikipedia, the Sanitary and Ship Canal also serves the following function: "Chicago's sewage treatment system discharges only lightly treated fecal matter into the canals. Because of concerns of the effects of chlorine, Chicago has a rare distinction among major American cities: it does not employ a disinfection stage at its three main sewage treatment plants. The result is canal water with fecal coliform colonies, so that signs along the canals warn that the contents are not suitable for any human contact."   
In other words, the Sanitary and Ship Canal serves as an open sewer for transferring Chicago's untreated sewage to the Mississippi River watershed through Lemont right past the proposed site of the Lemont Brownfield Soccer Center. 

This doesn't sound like a candidate for a Naperville style Riverwalk destination attraction to me. 

Given the rather negative images of these two hurdles to the initiation of this project, it is not surprising that the Lemont Village Board and Mayor have consistently refused to allow any meaningful input to the decision making process for the Lemont Brownfield Soccer Center by the Lemont taxpayers. The question is, are we going to let them get away with it? Are we going to let 6 Board members and the Mayor, without any yea or nay vote from we Lemonters, to obligate us to pay for this up to $39 million project? ( $21 million cost + up $18 million in interest) Given their continued defiance to acknowledge or allow any taxpayer input about this project, if you want a say in this matter you will have to demand it! Trusting this Board and Mayor, who by the way have no demonstrated experience in planning and implementing anything of this scope, to do the right thing in this matter may prove quite costly to we taxpayers who will be left behind to pay when this thing fails and the those solely responsible, the Village Board members and the Mayor, move out of town to a lower tax community.

B.S. Buster January 24, 2014 at 12:19 PM
Really showing your desperation again Mr. Schroeder. If the "legality" is doubtful why don't you take the matter to the courts?
Edward Andrysiak January 24, 2014 at 02:43 PM
It's hard to know what to believe these days. The "brown field" is bed rock...stone! the few inches of dirt that existed has been removed. So, all that MWRD clean up money was likely destined for someone's pocket. As for the "kaka" in the canal: it's relatively clean these days...there are fish living in it. The Asian Carp seems to like it as well as they are moving up river towards the lake. Studies of quarry and canal water indicated equal amounts of pollution albeit of a different kind. The days of condoms and feces floating downriver are gone and have been for years...many years.
Susan Petrarca January 24, 2014 at 02:56 PM
The budget for the project shows that the Village has earmarked $1million for "site environmental remediation." Bad enough that we don't own the site. But even worse to commit Lemont taxpayers' dollars for a clean up of land we don't own.
B.S. Buster January 24, 2014 at 03:01 PM
Now Susan, you've seen the budget. Where does it show village tax dollars as income? The income is from users of the field, an appropriate source to clean up the land.
Susan Petrarca January 24, 2014 at 03:23 PM
The budget for the project, which is in the business plan on the Village web site, lists $1,000,000 for site environmental remediation (that's a fact, Mr. Andrysiak, you can see it for yourself). The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District will not pay for it because Lemont wants to lease the land; if Lemont wants the land, they can pay for the clean-up. This is also a fact, as memos from the MWRD to the Village's outside counsel indicate. Why would Lemont residents agree to hand over their tax dollars to clean up a site they don't own? Why would the Village agree to this? The site's owner should clean up the brownfield, not the Village leasing the land. It's not our responsibility to clean it up, and it is an outrageous betrayal of residents to take on clean up liability and essentially force Lemont taxpayer to foot the bill.
B.S. Buster January 24, 2014 at 03:58 PM
What budget, of Lemont tax dollars, shows this expenditure? The budget shows that one million dollars of user fees is earmarked for the cleanup that hasn't happened in about 2 decades. Which budget are you claiming shows tax dollars in use for this purpose? It seems very prudent that our foreword thinking leaders have found a way for someone else to voluntarily pay for this troubled peice of land to get cleaned up to EPA standards. MWRD isn't Lemont, but Lemont residents also pay taxes to MWRD.... Seems like a win win for the Lemont taxpayer to have others voluntarily cover the remediation. Lemont benefits by no longer breathing in air that has blown across the site
Susan Petrarca January 24, 2014 at 04:20 PM
Once more, the facts: The business plan for the sports complex, written by the architects and prospective manager, is available on the Village web site. The plan includes financials and a budget. The budget shows $1million for site environmental remediation, paid for by the Village, not the MWRD. Village money comes from taxpayers. Lemont taxpayers will be picking up the tab to clean up land the Village doesn't own. The land has to be remediated -- cleaned up -- BEFORE the facility is built, Paul. Also, the million dollars is just an estimate, half a million more than what the MWRD itself claimed was a guess. The actual cost is unknown, since it hasn't been determined whose standards -- the MWRD's or the IEPA's -- need to be met.
B.S. Buster January 24, 2014 at 04:47 PM
I'm Looking at the very budget your referencing and there is no line item stating Lemont tax dollars in use at all. The income on that budget is entirely of user fees. Please reference where you see any income from any village of Lemont tax revenue. It has also been referenced that TACO Tier I standards be met and oversite by IEPA. Reference village of Lemont responses on the same web site.
Harold Hodenicki January 24, 2014 at 05:10 PM
Why let the people decide ... we are way better off with a government by fiat ... thank you for making our life so much easier ... No votes on anything ... ever ... never question the government ... they always know what is best ...
Susan Petrarca January 24, 2014 at 05:11 PM
The land has to be cleaned up -- remediated -- before a single shovel hits the dirt. User fees can't cover remediation until there are users. The cost estimate to build the Lemont Sports Complex is in the business plan, part 5, page 19. These are expenses, not income. Of course, NONE of the line items are tax dollars now, because the Village is taking out a loan, in the form of debt certificates, to cover the costs. But why should the loan cover clean up of land we don't own? WE are borrowing money and paying to clean up the land owned by the MWRD. The Village Board believes -- based on the projections and assumptions in the business plan -- that revenues will be enough to pay off the loan and all expenses associated with building, operating and maintaining the complex. The problem is the plan doesn't present any examples of these facilities actually being profitable. Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that the "feasibility studies" are merely projections and assumptions that don't pan out, leaving taxpayers on the hook.
B.S. Buster January 24, 2014 at 05:21 PM
Where is the "evidence" you reference? Where are your studies, or even "assumptions and projections" by qualified independent individuals? Why don't you call Mesirow and present your "evidence" or the attorney general or the EPA? Wouldn't that "fast track" the cancellation of the project?
Susan Petrarca January 24, 2014 at 05:35 PM
We don't rely on assumptions and projections that anyone can make up, Paul. We're not that gullible. The proof is the current credit rating of Bridgeview, Illinois -- worst in Illinois (which is bad, indeed.) The proof is the debt piling up in towns across Illinois that have borrowed in the hopes that revenues will cover debt service, only to fall back on taxpayers to make good. The so-called independent experts are the designers, builders and operators of these facilities, so their every incentive is to make them look good on paper. Mesirow wouldn't even talk to the Village if the debt certificates couldn't be backed up by taxpayer dollars. They'll make a fortune and they don't give a hoot about Lemont. This isn't about what's legal and filing lawsuits, folks. This is about being misrepresented by people who are elected to represent us, not rule us. This is about being bypassed and not being allowed to vote on the project.
B.S. Buster January 24, 2014 at 05:47 PM
I think you are misrepresenting. Lemont's project is nothing like Bridgeview. Not in size, scope, intent, budget, purpose....in no way is it similar at all. So no one should try anything at all if another has failed at something completely different? The designers, builders and operators haven't even been put to bid, let alone selected yet
B.S. Buster January 24, 2014 at 06:36 PM
While you compare Lemont's project to Bridgeview, which is dissimilar in every way, why don't you also compare it to Rosemont, where everything is dissimilar in every way too, but their projects consistently perform well, and they don't pay local taxes they get a check from their village? They are all dissimilar in every way, but you seem to be keyed in on only failure.... I also wonder.... As I look at your publicly posted biography you boast of 23 years experience in finance and investment (14 years management) did you skew all your reports and numbers to support making money, as you accuse others of doing? Did you look at anything objectively and report on the facts? Why do you think everyone is skewing this for personal interest with lack of objectivity and fiduciary responsibility?
Victor Fischer January 26, 2014 at 12:49 PM
Paul, b.s. buster, get your head out of the sand and look at the facts presented in your business plan that the Lemont requested board requested. This is where we are getting our information from. Average income for Lemont is $110,000, and we will see 250 people for lunch and or dinner per day. Give me a break. If this is even so, what are these individuals paying for mortages, what is their spendable income. Lemont, Cook County ranks fifth out of ten as paying the highest property tax in the U.S. Taken from the Chicago Tribune. FACTS. Suggest you reread the business plan (assumptions) that you presented to the people of Lemont. I have read your qualifications, what makes you an expert.
B.S. Buster January 26, 2014 at 01:02 PM
First of all, my name is not Paul, and I haven't presented any qualifications. I have read the assumptions on the business plan and listened to the principals with an open mind and property taxes are not in play after they removed the municipal bond financing from the table. What is the significance of 250 people for lunch and dinner? You may need to put that into some kind of context...
Victor Fischer January 26, 2014 at 01:10 PM
I'm looking at the remaining spendable income all these assumed visitors have to spend for these sporting events. Did this study take this into account, not that I have found thus far. So property tax, that is out of the visitors pocket does come into play. Its call concern of the individuals, not what the village can spend that is assumed they will have. I'm sure you know what assume means or do I have to spell it out for you. The figures in the so called business plan are very difficult to believe.
B.S. Buster January 26, 2014 at 01:15 PM
What figures do you have for someone else's "spendable income"? Also what is your reference for $110k? Census data for 2010 shows median household income of $88,663 and per capita income of $37,992 for Lemont residents . Of course census data is self reporting... Where do you see $110,000.00
Victor Fischer January 26, 2014 at 01:24 PM
The facts are taken from the 2013 study prepared for the Lemont Board. If the Census are correct and not the report prepared for the Mayor and Board, this these facts are wrong and the Sport Complex turning a profit is highly questionable. Read the report that is on the Lemont web site ad you suggest to us that are questioning the profitabliity of the complex.
B.S. Buster January 26, 2014 at 01:36 PM
"Estimated average $110,000 for 2012" is what the analysis states. I'm glad you actually read the plan! Most have not. So we have a27% premium over the rest of the area and very few opportunities to capture those dollars locally.... Thus the destination plan....I also wonder why you consider that number a fact, and the other numbers grossly misstated assumptions?
Victor Fischer January 26, 2014 at 01:43 PM
If you read my first comment, I question many of the numbers including the $110,000. If this is the report that our mayor and board are using the support the sports complex, then they are also being mislead and should be questioning the numbers the same as myself.
B.S. Buster January 26, 2014 at 01:45 PM
Maybe they have questioned those numbers? What did they say when you asked them about it?


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