Park Ridge voters to have say on Park District’s Youth Campus land buy
The Park Ridge Youth Campus, 733 N. Prospect Ave.
Updated: August 6, 2012 11:29AM
An offer put forth by the Park Ridge Recreation and Park District and a local developer to purchase property belonging to the Park Ridge Youth Campus has been accepted by the organization, which recently formed a partnership with another children’s social-service agency.
Under the agreement the Park District will pay $3.86 million for 6.85 acres of the northernmost portion of the Youth Campus property at 733 N. Prospect Ave., said Gayle Mountcastle, the Park District’s executive director. The remainder of the property, just more than 4 acres, will be sold to developer Mark Elliott for $2.5 million. Elliott has proposed homes for the southern portion of the site.
But the deal, at least for the Park District, is contingent upon voters’ approval of a referendum authorizing the purchase of the land, renovations to some existing buildings, possible environmental costs and the development of open park space.
“We’re still gathering the costs,” Mountcastle said.
The Park Board could begin discussing its next steps as soon as July 10, when commissioners are next scheduled to meet.
The Park Board has been asked to consider a bond referendum for the Nov. 6 ballot. The last day for a governmental body to file a referendum question for the November general election is Aug. 20, Mountcastle said.
Tentative plans for the Youth Campus property, if purchased by the Park District, call for a community park and using some existing buildings for classes, like gymnastics and music. Administrative functions could also be relocated from the Maine Park Leisure Center, 2701 W. Sibley Ave., to Wohlers Hall.
“We’re excited for the potential opportunity,” Mountcastle said. “The Park District looks at this property as a valuable asset to the community. There’s not this large of a parcel left in Park Ridge.”
The Youth Campus, a fixture in Park Ridge since 1908, announced in April plans to shut down operations at 733 N. Prospect. Most recently it housed and educated teenage girls with behavioral and emotional issues who had been placed there by the Department of Children and Family Services.
This week Chicago-based Children’s Home + Aid announced it will be partnering with the Youth Campus and using proceeds from the sale of the 11 acres of Park Ridge property to create the Youth Campus Fund for Practice and Policy Innovation. The fund will “support staff development and program innovation,” according to a press release issued jointly by the Youth Campus and Children’s Home + Aid.
All Youth Campus foster-care cases and staff will join Children’s Home + Aid following a transition with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the press release stated.
“Our two agencies have a legacy of providing homes and stability for children in need and through this partnership we will preserve the great legacy of The Youth Campus,” said Kevin Buggy, co-chairman of the Youth Campus Board. “Children’s Home + Aid is an exceptional organization, is a recognized top performer in providing child-welfare services and is highly ranked in securing permanent families for kids in foster care.”
The Youth Campus now operates at 901 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, providing foster care and adoption services. Children’s Home + Aid, 125 S. Wacker Dr., also offers foster care and adoption services, helping nearly 40,000 children and families in need in the Chicago area. The organization also offers more than 70 social-service programs across Illinois.