Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Borders is closing and we're building more retail strip malls in Orland

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I don't know. Sometimes I wonder about government. Borders is closing and that is a major setback for consumers. It's a great store. And while we can't blame Orland Park for the closing of the Orland Borders -- Borders is a far better store than Barnes & Noble -- the closing will impact our community which has been hit hard by retail slumbers.

On top of that, the village pushed ahead with its plans to create some kind of downtown section at 143rd and LaGrange Road, the so-called Main Street Triangle plan. I never liked the plan, really. I liked the stores that were in the mall there. The Cafe was wonderful for it's breakfast steak skillet. I liked Randy's Market. And who can get rid of any of the rumors and suspicions that a lot of already influential people invested in the land around the Triangle area and the push is to help them more than the people of Orland Park?

Do we really need another mall? Do we really need more retail space when so much remains empty? Again, I'm not blaming Orland Park for the store closings. But seriously, hasn't anyone noticed all the stores closing? And among the ones that haven't closed, many are  having serious financial troubles.

Now, the village is going to give Terry's Lincoln auto dealership a sales tax give-back of up to $100,000 a year for 10 years. Will the village live up to their promise? That's not an easy one to answer considering they reneged on the promise to taxpayers to rebate our sale tax portion. Remember those sales tax rebate checks we were promised. That just disappeared. Can't afford them. But we can afford this? No way. Those rebate checks symbolized the village's concern for the residents. Now, where is their concern? Those checks used to come to taxpayers and homeowners in the Spring. No more, folks. Because the village can't afford it. But the village CAN afford giving a rich car dealership a $100,000 sales tax rebate? Why?

In contrast, the Village is fighting a tax rebate for the Orland Park Mall. They don't want to give any money back to the owners of the fast decaying Orland Mall run by Simon Properties. The place is a dump. How about helping them with substantive improvements before the place turns in to a teenage skateboard hangout? I hate to go there and that's a tragedy because there was a time when I loved going to the mall. But the mall doesn't cater to the area residents any more. It's more for people from outside of the community who come here to buy the cheap junk that's being sold.

A bad economy does that to society. it pushes people to buy cheap junk. And that's what's at the mall these days. Junk.

We need quality stores. Not more cheap retail outlets.

And should we be giving sales tax rebate incentive to a car dealership? Why? Politics? Well, Terry's did put that favorable Ad in the newspaper before the election praising the incumbent office holders. Some of them deserve praise, like Trustee Brad O'Halloran. But is it payback? It sure looks that way.

Click here to remember what Terry's did for the incumbents just before the last election this past April.

I say invest the money in fixing up the village. I like where the village has been going. But I don't like a few of their recent decisions. Terry's is not what we should be doing with our tax dollars. What breaks have they given the taxpayers in Orland Park -- Oh, I did lease a car from them once. I wanted to buy it from them but their terms stunk.

Put the Triangle plan on hold. Stop the giveaway to Terry's, and how about coming up with a strategy to strengthen the commercial retail businesses we have, not dilute them?

Apparently, we homeowners are not really that important.

By the way, what does $100,000 in sales taxes actually represent? Well, if that's 10 percent of sales, that means $1 million in sales each year. (Anyone see the sticker prices of cars lately. You think gas prices have gone up!)

How about take the $100,000 and give it to someone to keep Borders open in Orland Park. Losing that store -- again not because it is the fault of the village -- is a major blow to the village. Next thing you know, we'll have some flea markets popping up. I don't want that.

Of course, I do like the decision by the village to publish all of its wage and contract records online. That's a great idea. (Sounds familiar.) But at least we know that we do have some very bright people working for the Village of Orland Park. Somehow, I don't think a lot of these decisions, though, are about economic sense as much as they are about politics and pals.

-- Ray Hanania

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