Lone Trustee Mastandrea Opposes Selling Downtown Property
Terry Mastandrea explains why he voted against selling surplus downtown property.
When Trustee Terry Mastandrea, former Lake Zurich fire chief, was appointed to the Lake Zurich village board as an interim trustee, last September, the main reason he took on the responsibility was to help get downtown redeveloped, he said.
At the Aug. 20 village board meeting, Trustee Terry Mastandrea was the only trustee to vote against the controversial decision to sell Lake Zurich downtown property, rather than choose from one of the four developers vying for the Block A parcel on Main Street.
“I was furious. I couldn’t believe we were going down that path,” Mastandrea told Lake Zurich Patch. “This is the biggest decision the village faces and if we don’t get something going in the TIF district, we’re going to face higher taxes.”
Mastandrea said he came to the meeting ready to move forward with either David Smith of Southshore or John Breugelmans of ARDE, or both.
“There were only two that met what myself and residents are looking for—a destination, a gathering place to go for dinner, to look over the lake, with entertainment, maybe have coffee,” he said. “I don’t believe that strictly residential is the way to go.”
Mastandrea said he was willing to go with a mixed residential and commercial plan, if that’s what was necessary to make it profitable for developers.
Mastandrea said he was well aware of David Smith’s history with the village and had met with Smith several times. Smith was chosen as the downtown developer in 2010, but failed to meet deadlines to attain financing. Mastandrea said he had a plan that outlined when projects would be done and assurances from Smith that they would get done, as well as penalties if they weren’t done.
“I was looking for the whole package . . . I still believe in a downtown plan that looks at the whole village, not just one parcel. We need more than one,” Mastandrea said.
At the Aug. 20 meeting, Mastandrea suggested the village move forward with both ARDE and Southshore. While developers at the meeting initially eschewed the idea, by the end of the meeting Breugelmans said he was willing to work with Smith as a team on downtown development.
However, five of six trustees went with Trustee Jonathan Sprawka’s suggestion to sell Block A, the village-owned parcel across from the Promenade, as well as other village-owned surplus property.
Mastandrea said there were three main reasons he voted against outright selling of the land:
- He said he found it hard to watch as a previous administration was gathering land and condemning it, and he said it doesn’t seem right that the village should now take the land and sell it. “It doesn’t feel right to me; I don’t’ think it’s fair to the landowners the village took from in the past,” he said.
- Mastandrea said he believes selling the land takes away the village’s opportunity to negotiate with developers on how the land will be developed.
- The village paid fair market value for the land when real estate prices were up. “We’re going to get a quarter of what we paid; it’s not going to be enough to pay our debt,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s fair to sell the land because trustees don’t want to deal with the process,” Mastandrea said.
“I know a lot of people are really set on getting something downtown and we finally had the opportunity to do it. We have to go into the next meeting with a plan. We owe it to the residents,” Mastandrea said.
The next village board meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 2.
Editor's note: Trustee Jonathan Sprawka, who intiated the idea to sell the land, was also contacted for an interview on the downtown decision, but we have not yet been able to set up an interview.