By: Diane Benjamin
Continuation of this story: https://blnnews.com/2018/05/10/downs-tif-tensions/
Roger Reynolds has a property that isn’t in usable condition. See the pics in the above story. He never authorized anyone to leave his property in the condition it is today. I also heard Downs is planning on using his property for access to the park Corn Belt is building, they want TIF money to reimburse them for construction. TIF money is taxpayer money generated from increases in property values.
The TIF report shows Reynolds has been paid somewhere between $59,273 and $90,727, the TIF reports aren’t clear. PDF page 4 and 11: ftp://ftp.illinoiscomptroller.com/LocGovTIF/FY2017/06405532/17TIF06405532TIF_2_1.pdf
I sent a FOIA to Downs to see what the payments were for. I received receipts totally $60,073. It wasn’t compensation for using his land. The majority is professional services for engineering, ditch work, surveying, meetings, design, and other required prep documents for development. See the documentation I received here: Roger Reynolds TIF payment documentation
The heart of the problems appear to be:
Farnsworth was hired by Downs
Farnsworth was also hired by developers
One engineering firm is playing both sides. There is no accountability or transparency. A small town like Downs relies on a firm they hire while the same firm works against them with a developer. Farnsworth did work for Snyder who developed the current Corn Belt location. The FOIA I received shows no payments to Reynolds for reimbursement of Farnsworth bills. I do know Farnsworth was originally charged with planning drainage to the Reynolds property from Corn Belt, part of the work was done but then abandoned. I have not been able to determine why.
Cornbelt has severe drainage problems, hence the current park plans. It looks a lot like Farnsworth engineering failed both Reynolds and Cornbelt and now more TIF money is being spent to fix the problem. The retention pond currently being built means the water has to flow south, the natural direction is downhill east to the Reynolds property.
Meanwhile the Downs Council members aren’t skilled developers, but they are asked to approve whatever is before them. The big problem here is Farnsworth worked for both the Village of Downs and Snyder. TIF money that could have been used to payoff the IEPA loan and REDLEG loan is now being used to solve drainage problems that never should have existed. The TIF looks like it goes all the back to 1999. At this point, nobody is taking responsibility for the problems.