Village rams through red light camera contract, church property buy

Village signs contract with red light camera company, moves church property purchase forward

Just a few years ago, Village politicians, when asked about Harwood Heights’ red light camera program, derided them as revenue generators (which they are).

Cue to 2018 and all of a sudden these same politicians plan to move forward with them in Norridge. What happened?

Village elected officials including trustee Dominick Falagario admitted the Village didn’t have a list of the intersections where they planned to install red light cameras.

The only Village official who objected to the red light cameras and property purchase was Dominic Sulimowski.

When asked for projected revenue and location of the red light camera(s), Trustee Falagario claimed this information was not available.

If the idea was to place red light enforcement cameras in order to increase safety, wouldn’t you already know where you were going to be putting the camera(s)?

It’s a law in search of a crime. Are they even going to try to sell red light cameras in Norridge as being anything other than a money grab?

The contract with red light camera vendor Safespeed moved forward on a 5-1 vote, with Sulimowski being the only NO vote.

Divine Savior property purchase “boondoggle”

When the discussion shifted to the Village property purchase, Sulimowski was the only trustee to raise the burning question on everybody’s minds: where are they going to get the money for this land purchase?

We think the answer to this question (as well as the $15 million buildout) is going to be burning a big hole into our wallets, in the form of even more tax increases.

Sulimowski also brought up the fact that the Village purchased a piece of the show property from Harlem Irving Plaza mall owner Michael Marchese, and is now turning around and selling that property. He called the planned purchase of the church property a “boondoggle”.

Chmura and Falagario’s responses (or perhaps, “excuses”) had to do more with the Village buying the church property to prevent other developers from building 50 or 60 condos there.

Wait a minute, isn’t that what the zoning commission is for? Surely the building height for 50+ condos would require a zoning petition be approved?

Sulimowski raised the question: why shouldn’t there be condos there, or some other residential development that would put the property on the tax rolls?

Chmura’s response was any new property taxes would mainly go to the schools – apparently that’s a bad thing in Chmura’s mind.

Sulimowski objected to continuing with the vote until a proper plan was presented, and made the motion that it be tabled.

The motion was not seconded, and the ordinance passed on a 5-1 vote, with again Sulimowski being the only dissenter.

Chmura made a big deal about the resolution only authorizing the Village to “talk” to the┬áRoman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago about purchasing the property.

However, the action item on the meeting agenda clearly states it is “authorizing the execution and delivery of a contract between the Village and the Catholic Bishop of Chicago to purchase certain real estate” and “authorizing the taking of all other actions necessary to the consummation of the transactions contemplated by this ordinance”.

Gus Rapatas raised concerns over the cost and the lack of a plan for the property, as well as questioning whether the Village’s “private” meeting with the Archdiocese was Open Meetings Act complaint.

Another resident who lives near the church property raised concerns about an increase in traffic on her block if a new Village Hall/police station is built there. She requested the Village involve the local residents in whatever is ultimately built.

Armed guards?

Armed guards at public comment?

One subtle but notable event was the appearance of armed Village police officers in front of Chmura who only appeared during the public comment.

Normally during meetings Norridge police officers stand at the open doors of the board room.

Nothing against the Norridge police officers who were obviously ordered to stand at attention for Chmura, but we do not believe our police should be used in this way. These kinds of optics could be perceived as discouraging public participation.

Mayor Chmura, if you have to have armed guards protecting you in the board room… could it very well be that you are part of the problem you so freely assign to others?

Recording of the December 12 2018 Village of Norridge Board Meeting (full video – 45 minutes)

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