After only meeting once a month for several months in the summer schedule, the Oak Lawn Mayor and Board of Trustees are ready to tackle a long agenda tonight including taking action on controversial developments and an agreement to benefit the Mayor’s most prolific fundraiser.
One of the first items of business will come with Village Manager Larry Deetjen asking the board to approve a motion to “…prepare an agreement between Mancari Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Oak Lawn and the Village of Oak Lawn for a three year lease on village owned property at 4440 Southwest Highway”.
The property address may seem familiar because it was targeted for development over a year ago as the village unceremoniously dumped its longtime towing company, Jack’s Towing, which enjoyed a lease at that location. At the time, Trustees were told that the property would make an excellent site for a restaurant but the dream of a restaurant on the Hometown border never materialized.
Frank Mancari, the owner of the dealership, was the Mayor’s biggest financial supporter in the recent April election admitted donating at least $12,500 to the re-election campaign of Mayor Sandra Bury while simultaneously pumping $24,000 into the failing village owned newspaper, which routinely prints a message from Bury to residents. An additional $10,200 donation from two individuals from Burr Ridge with a reported relationship to Mancari’s dealership and its advertising also found its way into the Mayor’s re-election efforts. A couple of other Mancari associates also donated heavily.
Mayor Sandra Bury ran initially against former Mayor Dave Heilmann arguing that the village was corrupt and a pay to play mentality was present in various contracts. Now, the village is poised to approve the three year lease despite the appearance of an ethical conflict.
The Board is also scheduled to authorize a sale of village property from 5704 W. 87th Street to 5741 W. 87th Street to Auto World Exchange Inc for $600,000. The new owner plans to build a used car dealership after being denied the opportunity to lease space on 95th Street for the same purpose. However, this development may be deemed appropriate since it sits on 87th Street away from the new car dealerships. It also appears that the used car dealer has given up on putting a used car dealership in a retail store space as originally proposed.
The most controversial project before the board tonight, however, may be the development in the center of town where the village plans to build a three story mixed use project that includes 8 apartments and commercial units. According to two sources, Village Manager Larry Deetjen has made an impassioned plea for the project and has privately accused some of the opponents of having a “hidden agenda” but has not explained what that agenda is or who those opponents are that he is speaking about. Opposition has centered near the project among some homeowners who have been contacting others regarding the development. The addition of the eight apartment units is new to any previously discussed plans.