It seems that our blog is getting quite the publicity these days. First, it was referenced and lambasted during public comment at the last board meeting. Then blogs in general (haha) were referenced in last week's Hinsdalean's editorial list of what to give up for lent. Specifically, their list included the following item that should be sacrificed during Lent: "Reading blogs that allow anonymous posts of unconfirmed information. Especially those that do so while claiming to be transparent."
We had quite the belly laugh when we read this suggestion, especially since the blog has gone out of its way to back up what it says either with links to D181's website/Board Docs/FOIA documents/Podcasts, Board member quotes, etc. or has labeled commentaries as "opinions." We don't make anyone pay to read our blog or buy space to post or advertise on our blog. We have repeatedly challenged critics to point out any factual errors in the blog and will continue to do so. We have provided a free forum for public discourse on the public education of our children and collection and spending of our tax dollars. So, thanks to any newspaper or community member who wants to spread the word about our blog.
"In our opinion," the hypocrisy of the Hinsdalean's editorial is that unconfirmed or misinformation comes in many forms. Sometimes, it is the presentation of incorrect information. Sometimes it is the presentation of incomplete information. Take last week's edition, for example. In its article on the HMS referendum, it claims that according to Bridgett McGuiggan, the D181 communications director, the 55th and County Line Developer quoted Don White a price for that large piece of property "upwards of $20 million." When we read this line, we kept reading, hoping that there would be some kind of independent verification of this number, such as the name of the person who White spoke to, a quote from the actual developer, or a quote perhaps from any one of the seven board members with a comment on when (if ever) this information was publicly discussed with the BOE and then rejected as an option that deserved further exploration. After all, whatever price that land would cost (and whatever piece of that land might be purchased -- since it is a huge parcel and might not all be needed), would be offset with proceeds from the sale of the prime real estate parcel the current middle school and adjacent field sit on. But none of that was covered in the "news" article.
Like we said, misinformation comes in many forms. Voters deciding on whether to support yet another capital project in D181 on March 15 through a property tax increase deserve a presentation of ALL of the information. But as in typical in D181, the regular parent/D181 taxpayer is not privy to all of the information that will help us make a fully informed decision. So for us, the parent bloggers, our choice on how to vote is obvious -- we will vote NO on the current plan to build a new HMS, not just because of the price and MULTI MILLION DOLLAR WANTS that "in our opinion" shouldn't be funded until Special Education and Curriculum services are fully funded and appropriately provided to ALL of D181's students, but because voters are once again being kept out in the cold and denied full information. Dr. White and the BOE have not publicly discussed and fully explored all options and even the local newspaper isn't digging deep enough to uncover all the "facts." Yet the local paper wants to criticize blogs for lack of transparency...
As always, SOUND OFF!
Ok, seriously, you folks need to lighten up. In what universe can that general (and pretty benign) comment in the Editorial (ie, opinion) column of the Hinsdalean be construed as an "attack"?
Isn't the Hinsdalean free because no one in their right mind would pay for it? We use it to pick up dog poop.
To 9:37: How much of an effort does the the Hinsdalean make to report the full story? My friends and I have watched plenty of community members speak and dissent at BOE and other D181 meetings. How many of these people has the Hinsdalean interviewed after they have spoken? How much of what these community members have said has appeared in the paper? Often there is a write up of the meeting or program in the paper. The statements are generally what White, an administrator or one of their mouthpieces want us to believe.
One would hope that even a small community newspaper could manage to provide both sides to a story, and that journalistic integrity and ethics would be important.
Dr. White's claim about the price of the property on 55th and County Line Road is problematic. Ever since he made this statement last year, nothing has materialized to support any of it. No plot map or multiple listing sheet has ever been presented to us regarding this specific property. This is complicated by the fact that last month, under community meetings, The Hinsdalean reported that the exact same property is now being considered by the village as a potential spot for a senior housing development.
The claim that residentially zoned land like this not being suitable for a new middle school is flatly wrong. ALL of our schools are located in residential areas. Considering that there are so few houses there now, and it is located so close to a park and a rehabilitation hospital, I cannot think of a better location. If this property developer group already has a contract on this property, it isn't too late to consider a land swap with them. This sounds like something the Hinsdalean should be investigating and reporting on. Is the property for sale or not? If so, what is the price per square foot? IF the property has not been sold, why is the district n to reaching out to these potential buyers? I have a feeling the senior citizens would be very interested in buying the current HMS property in Downtown Hinsdale for retirement condos due to access to shops, restaurants, and markets. If we sold HMS to them, the district could buy the less complicated, empty land. It would seem to me that empty nesters would have more incentive to buy housing with access to the train and a downtown area than 6th, 7th, & 8th graders would.
I think the Hinsdalean article last week written by Ken Knutson was the least biased article written about HMS in a long time. Bravo to Ms. Knutson. However, he is not the editor. For their own professional reputation and obligation to the community to present the facts, I hope the editor of that paper starts realizing that we know how to separate fact from fiction. We know when we are being duped. If anyone is to blame for the birth of the blog, it is The HInsdalean itself. When residents tired of getting misinformation from the local paper, week after week, they found a way to publicize the truth. And they did it for free as a service to the community. For that, we thank this blog.
I agree that the property at 55th and County Line makes more sense for a school than empty nester housing. Elmhurst, Clarendon Hills, Arlington Heights, Naperville and I am sure other communities have condos and townhouses downtown. Close to the train, close to restaurants, stores and other amenities. I think the property where HMS sits would be pretty valuable. It is very odd that that property has never been appraised.
When proponents sit here and tell us that all the homework has been done, that every option has been looked at and every stone has been overturned, one has to wonder why this information has not been made public.
I am not blaming the newspaper as much as I am blaming the D 181 administration, the BOE, and the facilities committee. Of course a good local paper would did this up.
Just a reminder that we will not publish comments that are personal attacks with unsubstantiated allegations.
The Hinsdalean has been in the district's back pocket for years. There has never been an independent, unbiased article about the curriculum issues and, to my knowledge, the Hinsdalean has never attempted to verify any facts about curriculum, test scores, etc... independently. I have spoken at BOE meetings about important topics several times, with facts, and I have never been contacted. Not that every parent should be, but, when you have parents saying the same things as the blog over and over again, and there are independently verifiable facts available, local papers should do a much better job of presenting both sides of these issues. Journalism is about uncovering the truth, not serving as a mouthpiece for a particular group or your buddies. Without unbiased reporting, there is no credibility. It's not real journalism and that's a shame for our community.
The Hinsdalean is only delivered free to residents who live in 60521. Everyone else has to pay to purchase it whether hardcopy or online edition. The "free" newspaper for Hinsdale residents is most likely subsidized by the advertising revenue the Hinsdslean earns from the ads taken out mostly by the local realtors. The realtors in turn want to sell homes in Hinsdale, so is it any great surprise that the coverage is skewed towards portraying our community as a perfect bubble?
We are looking for nearby housing for my senior parent who no longer drives and hasn't for at least 10 years. We are looking in neighboring villages with elevator condo buildings in downtown areas. The Hamptons has no appeal because there are no stores, restaurants or activities within walking distance.
Seniors want to be able to take walks, socialize, browse and shop in stores, workout and eat in restaurants. They want to do the same things as much of the rest of the population but many do not drive or like to drive after dark or in bad weather. They want to be independent. A downtown Hinsdale location would be the perfect location for nice senior housing.
If HMS wasn't taking up all that land and parking in downtown Hinsdale, more parking could be built as well as senior housing. A senior population spending money would encourage more retail establishments. People would be surprised at how vibrant downtown Hinsdale could become.
Currently, my family and friends rarely shop or eat in downtown Hinsdale. Parking is impossible. It takes the joy out of the event to have to circle the blocks, avoiding middle schoolers and their double-parked parents, while hustling for parking spaces. We go to LaGrange and, often, run into other Hinsdale families who are in LaGrange for the same reason.
I have a few questions, just out of curiosity.
Could someone explain to me why places like 55th & County Line would make a better place for a new school? Is it closer to the student's houses? Or is just that the current site on Washington & 3rd is so much more valuable, we'd make more money selling the current site and buying 55th and County Line?
I've seen comments about putting a senior living center at the current site on this blog and various papers. Could someone explain to me why a senior living place is better than a school? I could understand some older people might be able to walk around as well as younger people. On the other hand, if we move the school to 55th & County Line, how safe would it be for the kids to walk into town and hang out with each other?
Just curious. Thanks!
Also, one idea I had (I'm not saying it's necessarily good or bad, just throwing it out there): if we do build a new school, how feasible would it be to build the entrance and maybe the principal's office above grade, and the rest of the school underground? That way, we'd keep a lot of the green space. However, I could see that much excavation costing a boatload. Like I said, not necessarily a good idea, but wanted to see what people would think.
We are talking about 10 - 13 year olds not high schoolers. Many of us don't want our children hanging around stores and restaurants in a downtown location. Children should be hanging around their houses or their friends houses and playing in parks, not hanging around the Verizon store, a clothing store or Corner Bakery. We would never drop our 10 and 11 year olds at the mall or Target and say have fun hanging out.
We're also stuck with all the moms whose children can't seem to walk to and from school. They line up 45 minutes before classes end. They double park. They leave their engines running. They attempt to be discreet as they are driving to and from HMS all the while chatting on their cell phones and texting. It's a disaster. Drop-offs in the morning are no better. We're very lucky no one has been seriously hurt.
Forget the parent who needs to bring something to HMS that their child forgot. There's no where to park. Last time I had to drop something at HMS, I parked 2 blocks away and had to get change from a business for a parking meter.
We've investigated a number of nearby communities and their schools. We're having a hard time finding many with middle schools smack dab in the heart of downtown. We don't believe CHMS should be considered a downtown location. We don't believe those children are any worse off than HMS students would be if the school was moved from downtown.
The country line property is better because it would allow for more parking and green space. Also it lends itself to a cheaper three story rectangle design like CHMS. It also relieves congestion downtown.
As for the suggestion of building a below grade school. That sounds an awful lot like a below grade bunker with no windows. No thank you.
If the school is moved to 55th & County Line, how will this impact the number of kids who need a bus or parental pick up/drop off? If more kids need to be dropped off, he lines would be even worse than they are now. Not being downtown might help some things.
1:36, this is 11:56. I only mentioned an underground school because I remember a post a few months back saying that there were police or other village workers who worked underground and didn't complain. Plus, I've heard from several parents how they want green space. As I mentioned, I never said this was a good idea, just one I wanted to throw out there. I've seen and heard pretty weird comments, so doesn't hurt to ask.
How many times do you all have to hear this...the property at 55th and County Line is not for sale. GET OFF IT!!! Currently the property is now being considered...FINALLY... for empty nester housing now that the Village of Hinsdale has woken up!!! Way back when the Cook County TB sanitarium property was going to be sold, BOE representatives met with the Cook County representatives to discuss the possible sale of the property or part of the property to D181. In no uncertain terms, Cook County told D181 it had absolutely no intention of ever selling any of that property to D181. There were deeper pockets to be found elsewhere. And, the property was then sold to Donald James and has sat there, undeveloped, since then! James wanted to originally develop the property as "empty nester housing." Of course, at that time, the Village of Hinsdale could see no reason to allow "empty nester housing." Therefore, the property was zoned single family housing. Over the course of time, D181 has gone back to the developer to see if a land sale was possible, but the infrastructure had been put in place for single family houses. Who knows what will happen on that property, but it sure won't be a middle school.
Really? Now you are attacking The Hinsdalean for reporting facts about the HMS referendum? I need to get out of this town!
What facts, 3:55? If anything, the above posts have just proven that either the Hinsdalean, Bridget McGuiggan, or Don White lied. The Hinsdalean quoted that the large property (referring to 55th and County Line) was "upwards of $20 million." Now, 3:53, who IMO sounds like someone from the facitlities committee insists that that particular property is not for sale. If it is not and was not for sale, then HOW and WHY did Dr. White and his PR director claim that the property was "upwards of $20 million."?!
Again, the lack of transparency in this project doomed it from the beginning.
Because no one in the district ever bothered to appraise the value of the current HMS, or bother to list it, D181 is guaranteeing that no one other than 6-8th graders will enjoy it. Compliments, of course, of all of the empty nesters and their children who went to old, outdated middle schools in the community.
Please do yourself and the rest of us a favor and leave town. Your neighbors and the state of Illinois will thank you for it.
Wow. I am an empty nester who has raised my family, volunteered and participated in this community for 36 years...and now have people in my Community asking me to leave?
Whatever your position, dialog and discussion about our District children's educational environment should never be personal and should be centered on finding the very best constructive solution for those children. Those who ridicule and belittle others who have volunteered their time to District issues need to look inward and ponder why they are so vicious in their vernacular. And maybe take "a walk of shame".
3:53, let me help you with your facts. Donald James bought that property when the real estate market was booming. They wanted to put up numerous townhouses, condos, etc at that site with the encouragement of the some of the trustees. I don't recall anything about empty nester housing, but I do know they wanted a very dense development on that site. The neighbors revolted against rezoning from R-2 to multi family housing. This went on for years. By the time Donald James got something done, the famous great recession was upon us. If they had not gotten greedy and tried to cram 60 to 90 units on that site, they could have had it developed and their money in the bank long before the recession hit.
The current proposal is for R-4 SINGLE FAMILY DETACHED HOMES on 13,000 SF lots. The idea is first floor master bedrooms and what not. Proposed sales price is $1.1 to $1.3 million. Very similar in concept to the Oak Brook empty nester subdivision near their park district at Jorie Blvd and 31st. It still remains to be seen if it will be empty nester deed restricted or just empty nester encouraged. I don't get paying $1.3 million for a property where I still have to fire up my SUV to go anywhere. My guess is these houses will have roughly a $20,000 annual tax bill or higher. Not near the train, not near a restaurant, etc. Not even sidewalks to go anywhere. At least with the Oak Brook subdivision, one can walk next door to a very nice park district building with a pool, exercise equipment, etc. Also, the bike path is essentially right across the street. In my opinion, there is really nothing at this site and you have to drive everywhere. You could walk along County Line to KLM park, but there is not a sidewalk.
The only person I feel sorry for is the poor slob that owns the only house out there right now. Hopefully, they like peace and quiet.
I actually think the Hinsdalean has done a decent job of reporting on this proposed development. I don't feel the same about the middle school coverage, although they have said that they are running a series of articles about the referendum. Hopefully, they will include both sides of the story, including how rushed and forced this is. And maybe a perspective of the poor taxpayers that are drowning in bills.
I'm not a property lawyer, but it seems to me that one thing that should be explored with one is the concept of Eminent Domain relating to the property at 55th and County Line that has been sitting empty for about 10 years. Maybe it's a non-starter, but again, just another facet that should have been explored...
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