Willow Springs resident Jim Distasio was the first speaker to criticize the proposed land sale for use as an industrial park. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Willow Springs resident Jim Distasio was the first speaker to criticize the proposed land sale for use as an industrial park. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Lyons Township school board rejects sale of 70-acre parcel in Willow Springs

Spread the love
dvn lths rejects sale3

Mayor Melissa Neddermeyer (left) and the entire Willow Springs Village Board attended the meeting to show their opposition to the proposed sale.

By Steve Metsch

The sale of 70 acres in Willow Springs to a developer who wants to build an industrial park has been rejected by the Lyons Township High School District 204 board, but the door remains wide open to a sale.

The board voted unanimously Jan. 23 to reject bids of $46.5 million from Progolis and $55 million from Bridge Industrial for 70 wooded acres on Willow Springs Road and German Church Road.

That was after the board heard from a vast majority of the 26 speakers who implored it to deny the sale, saying an industrial park is not a good fit for the site. Five written comments were also read into the record.

After the meeting, detractors like Willow Springs Village Administrator Ryan Grace noted nothing had really changed as the land is still for sale.

“They’ve left it open for existing bidders to resubmit, for new bidders to submit,” Grace said.

“That’s why it’s not a very good outcome. What they did tonight really didn’t solve the problem,” Grace said. “They kicked the can down the road.”

Grace was among the speakers to address the board.

He told the board the land is not zoned for industrial use and that Willow Springs has no intention of ever rezoning the site from current zoning of residential and retail.

“I don’t think the Village of Willow springs can be more clear. If you’re good community partner, don’t waste everybody’s time. We’re telling you today that this isn’t going to be an acceptable use,” Grace added.

dvn lths rejects sale1

Lyons High School District 204 board President Keri Dillon and Supt. Brian Waterman listen to angry residents at the meeting January 23.

He said Willow Springs will “keep a close eye on their actions going forward.”

Mayor Melissa Neddermeyer agreed: “Based on the motion and the way it was worded, they pretty much said the door is still open.”

Board President Keri Dillon said during the meeting that the bids did not conform to the board’s terms and conditions of sale.

Proceeds of the sale are intended to improve the high school’s two campuses which “could include reimagining current learning space to meet current education needs.” Athletic facilities could also get upgrades with some of the $55 million asking price for the land.

“The role that Lyons Township District 204 has in this process is to sell or not sell the property,” Dillon said, noting the purchaser would have to work with the village about future plans for the land.

The school district bought the land 60-some years ago as a possible site for another campus for Lyons Township High School.

The property remains for sale for a minimum price of $55 million, Dillon said, and the board will continue to talk with potential buyers.

During the lengthy public comments portion of the meeting held in the Reber Center on the high school’s north campus, detractors of the plan were met with applause after making statements.

Jim Distasio, whose property borders the site, said more than 3,200 signatures have been collected on a petition opposing the sale to an industrial developer.

“Last spring, LT commissioned an appraisal of the Willow Springs land, specifically instructing the appraiser to price the land for industrial rezoning even though industrial development on the land was prohibited by village code,” Distasio said, noting it is “steps away from an elementary school.”

“All of you prioritize money over the health and well-being of your constituents south of Joliet Road,” he said, adding the board “has failed the test of moral decency.”

Another Willow Springs resident, Frank Bianco, said the district has a $47 million surplus, which he said is plenty of money to improve the north and south campuses.

Some suggestions were for a mix of residential and retail, an athletic complex for the high school, or leaving it as it is and using it for environmental studies.

Two members of the Pleasant Dale Park District Board, which owns seven acres of undeveloped land near the site, said their attempts to talk with the high school board had been ignored.

A handful of written comments supporting the sale were met with boos from the crowd.

Julie Workman, a 24-year resident of La Grange, called it “an opportunity to make easy cash.”

“Your duty is to sell the land for as much as you can. If not for industrial, then it should be something else,” she told the board.

“But as a real estate and zoning attorney, I can tell you timing is everything. There just aren’t any residential builders for deal of this size right now,” she said.

After that, a man in the back shouted, “You’re in La Grange?”

She said, “Yes, La Grange.”

“Yeah, thanks,” the man said as some cheered.

1 Comment

  1. Earl on February 3, 2023 at 5:31 pm

    Ryan Grace the sane Ryan Grace that was fired from Lyons School District 103 for lying to State Investigators…Good work Willow Springs for hiring someone of such integrity and trust worthiness…????



Local News

Steve Palmer, chairman of the Brew Moon Festival; Susanna Decker of Community Support Services; and McCook Mayor Terrance Carr pose with the oversized check donated from the festival. (Photos by Steve Metsch) 

Brew Moon raises $33,000 for two charitable organizations

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch Two local charitable organizations will benefit from the 12th annual Brew Moon Beer & Band Festival held in October at the MAX in McCook. The Kelli Joy O’Laughlin Memorial Foundation, based in Indian Head Park, and Community Support Services, based in Brookfield, each received $16,500. Checks were presented to representatives…

Mario DePasquale

Ex-McCook police chief sentenced to 27 months in extortion plot

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Mario DePasquale, the former police chief of McCook, was sentenced last week to more than two years in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to conspiring with the village’s former mayor to extort two businessmen out of tens of thousands of dollars. DePasquale, 50, was sentenced February 21 to…

Evergreen Park senior Nolan Sexton drives past a Thornton defender during the Wildcats' 77-47 win over the Mustangs in the Class 3A Thornton Sectional on Feb. 27. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Boys Basketball Class 3A Sectionals | Evergreen Park’s historic ends with loss to Thornton

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent The 2023-2024 Evergreen Park boys basketball team had one of the greatest seasons in program history. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, that season has come to an end with a 77-47 loss to Thornton in the semifinals of the Class 3A Thornton Sectional on Feb. 27. Evergreen Park was coming…

Hon. Koula Fornier

Fournier resigns from TTO to become judge

Spread the love

Spread the loveFrom staff reports The Lyons Township Trustees of Schools is accepting applications for a vacancy on their board, after Trustee Koula A. Fournier resigned earlier this month after being sworn-in as a Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court. Fournier was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill the Maloney vacancy of…

sports basketball image 12-13

Boys Hoops Wrap | Curie, Rice and Marist among area regional champs

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent The original March Madness got underway last week across Illinois, and several area teams were crowned regional champions. Teams still alive in Class 4A are Marist and Curie, and in Class 3A are Brother Rice, De La Salle, Evergreen Park and Mount Carmel.   CLASS 4A Marist (29-4) cruised…

Evergreen Park senior Tre Dowdell crosses over a Hillcrest defender during the Class 3A Evergreen Park Regional championship game on Feb. 23. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Boys Basketball Class 3A Playoffs | Evergreen Park tops Hillcrest for first regional title since 1974

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent Some Evergreen Park players have deep roots in the community, but it was a newcomer that carried the Mustangs to a monumental win. Senior guard Tre Dowdell put up a game-high 30 points and Mustangs rolled to a 74-60 win over Hillcrest in the Class 3A Evergreen Park Regional…

SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview could be the site for Northwestern football games in 2024. Photo by Jeff Vorva

College Football | Northwestern football may play at SeatGeek

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent It appears that Chicago’s Big Ten team will be Bridgeview’s Big Ten team for at least one day. Maybe more. Northwestern has released its 2024 football schedule, but where the Wildcats will play their seven home games is unknown. Their home stadium, Ryan Field in Evanston, is undergoing a…

Nazareth senior Amalia Dray fight through a Kenwood defender during the Roadrunners’ 50-37 win in the Class 4A Mother McAuley Sectional title game. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

Girls Basketball | Nazareth tops Homewood-Flossmoor, heads to Illinois Final Four for fifth time in past six seasons

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent Nazareth head coach Ed Stritzel has built his Roadrunners into a powerhouse program with a defense-first philosophy that is carrying the reigning Class 3A state champions through another deep postseason run. Four nights after Nazareth held Kenwood to a season-low 37 points in the Class 4A Mother McAuley Sectional…

Mount Carmel's wrestling team celebrates a Class 3A championship. Photo courtesy of Mount Carmel High School

Postseason Roundup | Mount Carmel wrestling wins fifth state title

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent During the regular season, only one wrestling team from Illinois beat Mount Carmel in a dual meet. Joliet Catholic got the better of the Caravan with a 38-27 victory on Jan. 18. That came two days after Mount Carmel lost to Crown Point (Indiana). The Caravan will be unable…

St. Laurence's Kathleen Martin gets off a shot against Hinsdale South in the Class 3A St. Ignatius Sectional on Feb. 22 in Chicago. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup | St. Laurence girls hoops has benchmark season

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent The St. Laurence girls basketball team’s historic season came to a close with a 42-29 loss to Hinsdale South at the Class 3A St. Ignatius Sectional on Feb. 22, but the Vikings hit some milestone’s in former Marist and Saint Xavier star Claire Austin’s first year as coach. The…

Neighbors

Cook County judge orders Trump removed from GOP ballot but holds decision pending appeal

Cook County judge orders Trump removed from GOP ballot but holds decision pending appeal

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois phancock@capitolnewsillinois.com SPRINGFIELD – A Cook County judge on Wednesday ordered former President Donald Trump’s name to be removed from the March 19 Republican primary ballot but stayed her order until Friday to give time for an appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. In a lengthy decision, Judge Tracie Porter…

Pritzker to mull tightening fiscal landscape in budget address this week

Pritzker to mull tightening fiscal landscape in budget address this week

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois jnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com Gov. JB Pritzker will give his sixth state budget address this week, laying out his plan for a fiscal year that government forecasters in November predicted is on pace for a near-$900 million deficit unless corrective action is taken.  Those same fiscal forecasters in the Governor’s Office of…

Ahead of Pritzker’s budget address, pressures that mounted last year intensify

Ahead of Pritzker’s budget address, pressures that mounted last year intensify

BY JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois jnowicki@capitolnewsillinois.com Republicans in the Illinois Senate indicated Tuesday that their sticking point for budget negotiations this year will be the same as it was last year – state spending on programs for noncitizens and recent arrivals from the country’s southern border.  In what’s been a rarity over the past…

‘This place is horrific’: 10-week-old complaint details ‘filthy’ conditions at Centralia funeral home

‘This place is horrific’: 10-week-old complaint details ‘filthy’ conditions at Centralia funeral home

By BETH HUNDSDORFER  Capitol News Illinois news@capitolnewsillinois.com The pictures that are said to depict the condition of the embalming room of the Moran Queen-Boggs Funeral Home in Centralia are shocking. Eight photographs and one video taken late last year purported to show the conditions of the funeral home depict piles of dirty sheets, a dead…

Capitol Briefs: Pritzker touts manufacturing training funding, announces cultural districts

Capitol Briefs: Pritzker touts manufacturing training funding, announces cultural districts

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS news@capitolnewsillinois.com Gov. JB Pritzker was in Normal Tuesday to call attention to recent state funding for manufacturing training academies – including at Heartland Community College.  The governor and college officials celebrated the new 45,000-square-foot facility that opened in January. It includes remodeled space to support programs such as robotics, HVAC, welding…

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com State and community leaders on Monday celebrated the planned opening of a new freestanding birth center on Chicago’s South Side while emphasizing proposed maternal health spending increases in Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The nonprofit Chicago South Side Birth Center will mark the city’s second active midwife-led birth center,…

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com State and community leaders on Monday celebrated the planned opening of a new freestanding birth center on Chicago’s South Side while emphasizing proposed maternal health spending increases in Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The nonprofit Chicago South Side Birth Center will mark the city’s second active midwife-led birth center,…

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com State and community leaders on Monday celebrated the planned opening of a new freestanding birth center on Chicago’s South Side while emphasizing proposed maternal health spending increases in Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The nonprofit Chicago South Side Birth Center will mark the city’s second active midwife-led birth center,…

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com State and community leaders on Monday celebrated the planned opening of a new freestanding birth center on Chicago’s South Side while emphasizing proposed maternal health spending increases in Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The nonprofit Chicago South Side Birth Center will mark the city’s second active midwife-led birth center,…

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

New birth center to open on Chicago’s South Side as Pritzker touts proposed maternal health spending

By DILPREET RAJU Capitol News Illinois draju@capitolnewsillinois.com State and community leaders on Monday celebrated the planned opening of a new freestanding birth center on Chicago’s South Side while emphasizing proposed maternal health spending increases in Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget. The nonprofit Chicago South Side Birth Center will mark the city’s second active midwife-led birth center,…