by Dave Noble, City News Editor
ELMHURST – Indiscreetly dipping a previously-used Lipton tea bag into a 16-ounce fiber-based cup full of piping hot water, Elmhurst Extended Care Center O.G. Phyllis Royal told reporters sharing a booth with her at the York Street Arby’s on Wednesday afternoon that “the fight is not over” for she and the other long-term care residents, who are disappointed that the city’s Zoning and Planning Commission rejected a conditional use permit last week for building expansion at the nursing home that would have included an additional parking lot just south of the existing facility, with access from the residential street of Fremont Avenue.
“I don’t care about a bigger building with larger rooms,” said Royal, squeezing a fourth packet of Horsey Sauce on top of her Jr Bacon Cheddar Melt. “I want the parking lot and a way to get in and out of that place on the down-low.”
Citing a strict care center curfew of 10:00 p.m. on weekdays and 11:00 p.m. on weekends, Royal said that she and her posse want to avoid detection when returning after midnight from excursions to Gold Strike Bingo in Melrose Park or a local drinking establishment she referred to as “Galway’s”.
“Nobody needs to know when we’re coming or going,” said Royal, who added that she had also planned to leave her Crown Victoria in the new parking lot so that she can “get the hell out of Dodge” whenever her son-in-law unexpectedly showed up for a visit. “I keep a ‘go bag’ in my car at all times with a few hundred dollars and an open-ended Amtrak ticket for those types of situations.”
While the nursing home’s requests for a zoning change and property consolidation passed fairly easily, the commissioners rejected the amended conditional use permit based on a concern that the proposed parking lot and its access from Fremont would damage the residential nature of the neighborhood. Royal dismissed the feelings of Fremont residents as “jibberish” and promised that the city hasn’t heard the last from her and fellow care center residents.
The proposal now moves on to the City Council’s Development, Planning and Zoning Committee, who are expected to uphold the decision by the commission when they take up the issue of the nursing home facility at its April 10 or April 24 meeting.