Editorial: The downtown deadline approaches
If nothing changes, on April 15 at 12:01 a.m., the parking lot in downtown Elburn will close.
It is owned by the Community Congregational Church in Elburn, and has been used for general public purposes for years. Employees of the downtown businesses often use it, residents of the apartments above some of the businesses use it, customers to downtown businesses use it, and many of them are not even aware that it is owned and maintained not by the village of Elburn, but rather, by the church on the other side of Shannon Street.
Last year, the church made the decision to sell the property, and while there have not been any takers as of yet, the church recently made the decision to close the lot to public use. Originally, the church intended to close the lot in March, but elected to extend the closure by one month while the village and the downtown businesses attempted to determine a path forward to try and keep the lot open.
That month is almost up, and while a specific path forward has yet to be determined, there are steps that have been taken that could lead to that path. However, before much more of significance can occur, an appraisal of the property must be conducted to determine if the church’s current asking price of $250,000 is in line with, or near, an independent assessment of the property. On Monday, the village formally decided to move forward with that appraisal.
For years, the Community Congregational Church has been gracious enough to keep the lot open for general public use. Having nearby, convenient parking has been vital to the survival of those downtown businesses that remain after the economic mega-dip that occurred in 2008, and it remains vital as the downtown business district has begun to show signs of recovery.
The entire community—and specifically the downtown business district—owes the Community Congregational Church a debt of gratitude for the support they have provided over the years. At the same time, we ask that the church make the difficult decision to continue that support by extending their closure deadline a little bit further—to allow for the appraisal to be completed and the potential paths forward to be fully explored.