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November 2, 2021 – Tonight, the Itasca Village Board voted 6-0 to deny Haymarket’s request for a planned development by special use with exceptions and a class I site plan to allow a mixed-use residential and healthcare facility and other accessory uses in the B2 Community Business District. Below you will find the full text of the statement that Mayor Jeff Pruyn provided at tonight’s meeting:
Reasonable - the definition of reasonable is fair, sensible.
That is what the Village of Itasca was asked to consider - if Haymarket, operating in Itasca, is reasonable.
I am a lifelong resident of Itasca, and I’ve had the privilege of being Village President since 2009.
As Village President, with dedicated staff and Village Board members, my number one focus is that we do everything we can for the betterment of our residents.
We are a village that is compassionate - a village that gives - we help where we can.
Itasca is a small town. We represent 1.03% of the total population of DuPage County. Yet, as a small town, we have a big heart.
Our Itasca Cares collaboration is our way of lending a helping hand. Our Outreach Team helps people get back on their feet.
No one wants to believe there is a hunger problem in their community, but our Itasca Food Pantry is a necessity. And unfortunately, COVID created a closure to our Itasca Homeless Shelter, but it’s what the community needed pre-pandemic.
When we first heard about Haymarket looking to come to Itasca, there are only two words that came to my mind: Itasca Cares.
Others and I were open to the idea of the facility because, make no mistake, treatment facilities are needed in and around DuPage County. We had many discussions and meetings to figure out the size and scope of a potential Haymarket facility and how this would work in one of the smallest villages in Northern Illinois.
My number one concern, as I stated earlier, is our residents - current residents, and future residents - which is what those living at Haymarket would become. They would become Itasca residents.
As Village President, I have to ensure our Village’s functionality and financial responsibilities go hand in hand. As many of you know, I’m a certified public accountant. I account for money. Fiscal responsibility is what I do, and it carries over to my role as Village President.
As time went on, we learned more and more about the immense size and scope of Haymarket’s plan, and I kept coming back to one question: How could Itasca reasonably handle a facility like this?
During the Plan Commission meetings, one of the biggest items to be discussed was 9-1-1 calls for service. At various times during the meetings, Haymarket presented different forecasted calls for service. The bottom line is the forecasting is more than what our Fire District can handle now with our one ALS ambulance.
Haymarket suggested they could provide a second ambulance, but that would also require additional staff, maintenance and other costs Itasca just doesn’t have. And for the record, I as Village President cannot just reject the offer of an ambulance, as was suggested in testimony. That decision must be made by the Fire District. I do not have that authority.
Itasca is tax capped. According to state law, we do not have the ability to just raise taxes. If we required extra operating funds to pay for the service of a gifted ambulance, we would have to go to our residents to ask for an increase in taxes to help pay for it. That is not reasonable.
Early on, it was clear the potential financial burden of Haymarket would be heavy on Itasca. Representative Deb Conroy suggested the state could provide a grant to help the financial burden, but several things are important to point out: when that offer was made, it was very early in the process and we did not have critical data and information from Haymarket on true potential costs; and, what is promised today is not guaranteed tomorrow. Itasca has been the victim, once before, of being awarded a grant and then suddenly the funding went away. We cannot count on unknown dollars. That does not make good fiscal sense.
It was clear to state elected officials, county elected officials, and local officials that one of the smallest communities was going to have to absorb 100% of the cost, risk, and burden of servicing a facility that would be accepting residents beyond Itasca.
More importantly, it was also clear to Haymarket that costs went beyond Itasca’s means.
On November 13, 2019, the Plan Commission Chairman asked Dr. Lustig, and I quote:
“So I'm also concerned that our police and fire services may not be available to existing Itasca residents and businesses and those of other communities where we have intergovernmental agreements.· My second bottom-line financial question is if the Itasca fire or police department finds it necessary to increase personnel and/or equipment because of an increase in calls caused by Haymarket, would Haymarket be willing to pay for the added personnel and equipment as long as they're being served here?”
Dr. Lustig’s response: “No, it would not.”
To the residents of Itasca, I say to you this evening that as Village President, Haymarket’s request on our Village is unreasonable.