Tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in Ruth Fellowship Ministries, there will be an "urgent" meeting on the future of Liberty Village, a 96-unit subsidized housing complex in the Fourth Ward.
At issue is an impending sale of the complex to a buyer who needs City Council approval to continue a "payment in lieu of taxes" (PILOT) agreement that dates back to 1982. The buyer will increase the percentage of the rent roll paid to the city from 6.28 percent to 10 percent and will make numerous improvements at the site. Deciders on the actual sale will be other authorities.
This is not a City Council meeting. Only three council members will take part: Council President Bridget Rivers, who represents the Fourth Ward; Councilwoman Vera Greaves, who holds the First & Fourth Ward at-large seat; and Councilwoman Tracey Brown, the Citywide at-large representative. No votes can be taken.
Those expected to attend to answer questions are Deputy City Administrator for Economic Development Carlos Sanchez, Housing Authority of Plainfield Executive Director Randall Wood, principals of Liberty Village Estates Urban Renewal LLC and their attorney, William Eaton; and possibly someone from HUD, according to Rivers.
Sanchez and Eaton have already explained the situation at two council meetings. Plaintalker reported on those meetings on April 8 and April 16 . Eaton has stated a May 1 deadline sought by the buyer, as the Section 8 contract for the current owner expires on May 6. However, as indicated at the two meetings, speakers have said the council should hold out for more concessions and Rivers said she believes the council has until May 31 to render a decision.
For the April 15 council meeting, the prospective buyer was observing Passover and was not present, although Eaton again answered questions and stressed the need for the PILOT agreement to continue.
"I think all the information has been provided," he said.
But Rivers called the process a "rush, rush, rush" and said the council had until May 31 to act. She alluded to things she was told by unnamed outside sources regarding the deal.
Brown attempted to review the facts as already presented.
Greaves told Eaton on April 15, " I wasn't here last week and I have no idea what this project is about.," and added, "I actually need to figure out what is going on."
She later reacted emotionally to a resident's comments on the matter by saying, "She's getting on my nerves, honest to God."
No action can be taken Monday as it is not a legal council meeting. If the three get their questions answered to their satisfaction, a special meeting can be called at which the full council may act. But Gloria Taylor and William Reid also questioned the deal and there is no guarantee that it will pass unless a majority feels comfortable in approving the PILOT. Stay tuned ...