Western Springs buys house to extend recreation center lot
The village of Western Springs may use the land they are buying at 4368 Hampton to expand the parking lot of the recreation center. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 27, 2012 6:16AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — The village of Western Springs plans to purchase a home at 4368 Hampton Ave., for $560,000, in order to extend its nearby Parks and Recreation property.
“The plan is to subdivide it and resell the house,” said Tracy Alden, director of the village’s Parks and Recreation Department.
The house is situated next to a parking lot controlled by the department. While the actual house sits on Hampton Avenue, a large stretch of property extends 405 feet back from the home. It is this land that interests the Parks and Recreation Department most.
“And its right next to the recreation center parking lot,” Alden said. “The back 250-feet (by 75-feet) essentially, are right next to us.”
Right now, Alden is not saying how the land will be used, but hinted it could be used for programming or as additional parking space.
Village trustees approved the purchase July 18.
In response to a question about the value of a $560,000 parking lot extension, Alden said the village expects to make some of its money back with the sale of the house.
“We won’t get back everything but we had expected to pay something for this property,” he said. “Depending on what you sell the house for the back lot may end up being a good price for us.”
There is no public access to the lot and would be difficult to build on.
Though the decision to purchase the property came seemingly out of nowhere, Alden said he has desired owning the land for several years now.
One thing stood in the way.
“We knew about this (land) for years but we were never in a position to do anything until that debt on the recreation center was (paid off),” Alden said.
Once the center’s debt was paid off, the village approached the owners of the home and asked them if they would be willing to sell. He said the village was concerned about not paying more than the value on the property.
Alden said his department did not want to spend time planning a use for the additional land because it was always possible the house could not be purchased.
Aside from a parking lot expansion, the space could also be used for a Safety Village or for a playground, Alden said.
Safety Village is a small lay out of a town, complete with roads and street signs. It is designed to teach young children how to be safe while living in a suburban community. Hinsdale has a Safety Village, which has 16 small buildings. The Hinsdale Safety Village also has a real working railroad crossing, street signs and working traffic control signals, all built to scale for children.
“People feel like this came as a surprise,” Alden said. “It did, I suppose, but . . . you can’t do anything without the land. So we kind of laid low with everything else.”