The Village of Wellington's Police Department needs a new station, but a few local business owners were surprised to learn they may need to relocate to make room for it.
Attorney Alecia Vidika told News 5 she and others operating businesses out of 147 and 149 E. Herrick Avenue found out about the potential move from a newspaper article. She said their landlord never gave them a heads up.
Vidika grew up in Wellington and said she's worked as an attorney in the city for more than 24 years — eight in her current office.
"We were blindsided by the news, it is basically like getting your eviction notice from the paper," Vidika said. "We were not informed by the landlord or the village in any way."
The other two businesses are accounting and insurance agencies.
"It's disheartening to know that the three core businesses in this building are being tossed to the curb with nowhere to go," Vidika said.
Vidika and the two others have met with city officials since.
Vidika said the village was under the impression their landlord gave a heads up.
"They were mislead and we were mislead," Vidika said. She said the village wouldn't have gone public with the purchase agreement if it knew the tenants hadn't been informed. The agreement gives the village exclusive rights to the property through November.
City officials confirmed this with News 5.
But, Vidika said she still feels it wasn't handled properly.
"Why do you think it's a good idea to displace businesses that have been in your community for three decades?" she asked.
"We are going to aid them and work with them and make sure they stay in this community," Wellington Mayor Hans Schneider said.
The mayor explained the building has been for sale for years and, after research and visits to it and others, was determined to be their best option, both financially and logistically.
"That building has been for sale for a number of years and [the tenants] were aware of it, they have acknowledged that they were aware of it," Schneider said.
The mayor also said that while plans and the purchase agreement have been made, it isn't a done deal yet.
"Right now we are focused on the election on November 6," he said.
There will be a 0.75 percent income tax increase on the ballot in November that would help pay for the new police station and more.
According to the mayor, the tax increase would also create reciprocity for those who work outside the village.
The question is, will the move and the new police station only happen if the levy passes?
"On November 7, we're either going to be ecstatic and move forward with our plans for that building, or we are going to sit down and make an evaluation of where we are that day," Schneider said.
When asked if the new station may be built regardless, Schneider said, "Possibly. Anything, I guess, could happen."
The mayor also said if they end up moving forward with this plan, he will make sure the city helps the businesses with relocation.
The building's owner, Nick Bogojevich, sent News 5 the following statement:
- The building has not been sold, it is only under option.
- The building has been for sale since 2013 and real estate signs posted in front of building.
- The tenants all have a lease, the terms of which allow them to remain in place through its duration.