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State Rep. Pushes Legislation To Get Village Mental Health Center Land

Rep. Tim Ozinga has introduced two bills aimed at assisting the Village of Tinley Park in acquiring the Tinley Mental Health Center land.

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TINLEY PARK, IL — As the future of the sought-after Tinley Mental Health Center land remains in limbo, a state representative is backing legislation to get it into the hands of the Village of Tinley Park.

Rep. Tim Ozinga, R-Mokena, last month introduced two pieces of legislation aiming to help the village acquire the 280 acres on the corner of 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue. Under House Bill 3469, the state would sell the property to the Village for "no less than fair market value." Complementary House Bill 3979, introduced a week later, would secure $15 million from the Rebuild Illinois capital program to assist in demolition and environmental cleanup of the property.

The funds, Ozinga wrote in the bill, were originally included in the state's Fiscal Year 2021 budget, intended to "address numerous environmental concerns with the facility" after it was shuttered more than 10 years ago. That funding, the bill states, was removed "without warning or notice."

"The Village has been trying to acquire this property for many years, and we are so grateful that Representative Ozinga continues to support our efforts to clean up this dilapidated site that sits in the middle of our community," Tinley Park Mayor Michael Glotz told Patch.

Glotz said it is the second bill House Representative Ozinga has introduced for "the property to be obtained by the Village and cleaned up."

Both pieces of legislation have been sent to committee for review.

The property has been at the center of a tug of war between the Village and the Tinley Park-Park District since late last year. The state at that time declared the property as surplus, opening the acquisition up to interested parties.

The Village, which has sought to obtain the land for more than a decade, saw its most recent attempt to do so at a price tag of $4.5 million fall short in February 2022. Officials have said should they acquire the land, they would seek to centralize all village resources, as well as find other uses for it that could generate revenue for the town. First, however, the property would need an estimated $12.4 million in remediation, the Village has said. The land is in a tax increment financing district, Mayor Mike Glotz has previously said, so any revenue raised through its redevelopment could help offset the Village’s costs.

The Village has long floated proposals for the land's use, at one point touting the idea of a racino—a combined racetrack and casino—and later considering redevelopment as a 55-and-older, 400 single-family home housing complex. The former was nixed in October 2019, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker canceled the state's sale of the property. Carr and Glotz both say the land is a pawn in a "political game," with legislators such as Sen. Michael Hastings (D) and Rep. Bob Rita (D) interfering in the sale.

The park district, which as a sole entity declared its interest in the property in November 2022, has envisioned a sports dome, playgrounds for those with special needs, a splash pad, a stadium with a track, concession stands, and more. District officials have touted several legislators' support for the vision, specifically naming State Rep. Debbie Meyers-Mart, Justin Slaughter and Rita, who called the park district's plans "what we have needed for the space."

Other legislators who have recently voiced their support of the plans have included Reps. Dagmara Avelar, Kelly Burke, Will Davis, Anthony DeLuca, Marcus Evans, Fran Hurley, Thaddeus Jones, Natalie Manley, Nick Smith, Larry Walsh Jr., and Sens. Napoleon Harris, Patrick Joyce, Elgie Sims and Rachel Ventura.

Ultimately, the property is in the hands of the state’s Department of Central Management Services. Any sale must be approved by the Illinois General Assembly.

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