Fifth Avenue Train Station Moves Closer To Construction, But Fee Issue Presents Minor Hurdle

Metra Parking image

An aerial image of the parcel of land that would hold parking spaces adjacent the proposed 5th Avenue Metra train depot. Union Pacific Rail Road wants to lease the land to the village for $7,800 a year in addition to an automatic three percent increase each year. Village officials have announced plans to renegotiate the terms of the agreement, if not eliminate it altogether. Below, a rendering of the proposed station. | Union Pacific 

StationFriday, January 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

The Maywood Board of Trustees moved the needle a little closer on a proposed train depot to be built at the 5th Avenue Metra station. The proposed $2.3 million station has been in the works since at least 2011, when the village applied for a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant to secure funds for the station’s construction.

Last August, after provoking residents’ outrage over plans to move the station from 5th Avenue to 9th Avenue, Union Pacific Rail Road (UP) and Metra officials reverted to the original proposed 5th Avenue location.

Now, the village may be two lease agreements away from solidifying the station’s construction. One of those agreements, however, may need some massaging before village officials are comfortable with signing off on it.

According to village engineer Mark Lucas, the village needs to enter into a lease agreement with Metra to build a station on top of existing parking spaces at the 5th Avenue location. That, however, means the village must sign another lease agreement with the UP Railroad.

“We have to make sure that the parking spaces we’re [eliminating] are made whole by building those spaces at another location,” Lucas said at a Jan. 27 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting. “That would be on the UP Railroad’s property, which is basically from 4th Avenue going east towards 3rd Avenue.”

It’s a strip of land that’s approximately 500 feet long by 24 feet wide, Lucas noted, and the UP wants to lease it to the village for $7,800 a year plus a one-time $500 administrative fee. Moreover, that annual fee comes with an automatic “cumulatively and compounded” three percent increase each year.

That lease arrangement could end up costing the village “more money every single year,” said village attorney Michael Jurusik. And the fee doesn’t include other costs like the village’s responsibility for the land’s property taxes and for its regular maintenance.

Jurusik said he’s worked on parking arrangements between the UP and other communities in which the UP didn’t charge for commuter parking — particularly when that parking was adjacent a Metra train station, which has its own revenue-generating potential.

Jurusik said he doesn’t know what, if anything, the UP charges nearby suburbs like Forest Park and Oak Park for their parking arrangements, but said he’d look into it.

“I’d like to see them not charge us directly,” Jurusik said, before noting that the village could explore numerous revenue-sharing arrangements with the UP that would be a lot fairer to Maywood.

“I don’t want to commit the village to paying the dollar terms [in this initial lease agreement],” Jurisik said, before requesting for the board to allow him 30 days to try negotiating a fairer deal (the board eventually granted that request).

According to Lucas, however, the clock is ticking. He said bids for the station’s construction need to be put out this year — possibly before Oct 1, which is the start of the next federal fiscal — in order for the village to maintain its CMAP funding. VFP

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article listed the wrong dimensions of the parcel in question. It is 500 ft. long, not “one foot long,” by 24 feet wide. VFP regrets this error.

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