I have followed the proposal to convert a suburban hotel to a treatment center from an earlier iteration in Wheaton, a march against the proposal in Itasca, and the ongoing discussion. The process is still ongoing and the final vote was recently delayed:
Itasca’s plan commission on Wednesday unanimously agreed to recommend the village board deny Haymarket’s proposal. The Chicago-based nonprofit group is seeking permission to convert a former hotel along Irving Park Road into a 240-bed facility for adult patients with drug and alcohol use disorders.
The final decision rests with the village board. But trustees don’t want to rush their decision.
On Thursday, Mayor Jeff Pruyn said the village board plans to have at least two special meetings beginning in the middle of October. The first would allow public comment about the proposal. Haymarket representatives would make their case before the village board during the second.
As a result, the village board will not vote on the proposal until late October or early November.
Making a hasty decision may be in no one’s best interest. Particularly given the controversy surrounding the proposal, making sure everyone has a chance to voice their opinion and the board has all the time to make up their mind seems reasonable.
At the same time, what would change between now and then that would have a big effect on how the board members are viewing the situation? The proposal has been under discussion from some time and community members have made their voices heard.
This is not an easy decision for a smaller community to make. There could be consequences for life in the community and future development. Either way, some people will be upset. The village board decision will either agree with the plan commission or go the other direction (and the board is able to choose either option).
Yet, a decision needs to be made. I will be interested to see what happens: how will Itasca respond? Will Haymarket look for another suburban location? More broadly, what suburban communities might welcome land uses like these that are needed in metropolitan regions?