The Village of Evergreen Park may soon see some movement on a three-year litigation with the Sisters of Mercy.
After a court battle over land given to the Sisters of Mercy for “religious educational use,” trustees are expected to vote on a settlement proposal given to the village.
"Please note that said proposal is currently being considered by the Village Trustees and is not a final agreement," the village said on its website when the proposal was made available to residents last week. Click the document to see the detail.
Mayor James Sexton didn’t share an opinion on the newly proposed settlement, but said that trustees would talk it out during Monday's village board meeting.
The Sisters of Mercy had originally planned for a 212-unit, five-story continued care retirement community in 2008.
The sisters downsized their plans to 146-unit, four-story independent living facility and a four-story facility to alleviate the village's concerns of overcrowding, but the village board rejected those plans last year.
Residents who were removed as plaintiffs from a village lawsuit earlier this year because of a “difference of opinion,” said they are not impressed by the latest proposal, calling it an unpleasant feeling of déjà vu. They remain plaintiffs, however have their own representation.
“The trustees voted a year ago, why are we here again,” said Beth Amado, who’s been against the continued care retirement center since it was first proposed.
“It’s really no different from the last proposal other than the stipulation of clergy for 12 months.” There is no concession as to size, only the type of residents allowed at the home, she said.
While the last proposal restricted the residence to members of clergy, the sisters' latest plan restricts housing to clergy members only during the first year of operation.
After that, the Sisters of Mercy may petition the court to allow lay people 60 years and over to live in the home, according to the proposed agreement. The agreement also gives the village the right to object to a request to allow lay people to live in the home.
Amado said the possibility of non-clergy living at the retirment center was never a concern.
“That has nothing to do with our objections," Amado said. It’s about the use and the size of the development.”
Along with Cathy Manahan, the other plaintiff listed on the residents' lawsuit, the two have established the Save Educational Space Legal Fund, to fund legal fees. Attorney Patrick J. Ruberry, a partner at Chicago-based Litchfield Cavo LLP, is representing them.
“Our greatest wish is that they simply honor the contract they made with the village; to keep it for educational purposes,” said Amado. She and other opponents to the development said they were upset that the matter was mentioned at the last village board meeting after being told that it wouldn’t be.
“It would have been an opportunity for residents to go and reiterate their concerns” before trustees and Sexton entered an executive session to discuss litigation, she said.
Representatives from the Sisters of Mercy were not immediately available to comment, however Sister Sheila Megley, the project manager of the development told the Beverly Review last week “we’re hoping and praying for [the village’s acceptance of the settlement]… but experience has taught me to wait and see.”
Although the residents are on a different page than the village, Amado said she and others who agree with her aren’t giving up. “It’s not done. It’s not over,” said Amado.
Along with several residents in and out of the village, the group has the support of District 124 and State Rep. Kelly Burke (D-36th), said Amado, who have both written letters to the mayor concerning the matter.
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