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updated: 4/19/2011 10:59 PM

Glen Ellyn Park District to build part of safety village

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A portion of a new safety village in Glen Ellyn is scheduled to be built, but it's future beyond that is less certain.

Glen Ellyn Park District board commissioners voted 4-3 Tuesday to accept a base bid of $69,252 from Copenhaver Construction of Gilberts for paving and concrete installation on one-third of the proposed safety village site at Maryknoll Park, located at Pershing Avenue and Route 53.

But some commissioners questioned if the district would be able to afford it.

At the board's next meeting May 3, three newly elected commissioners will be sworn in.

That will be the last official meeting for Board President Ed Hess, who lost a re-election bid, along with William Dallman and Sandy Minogue, who are stepping down. All three are 12 year incumbents.

Commissioner Jay Kinzler said he didn't think the current board should have taken a vote on the safety village project, since a straw poll of the incoming board he took indicated "there is no real support for completing this project at that location."

Kinzler said the park district is facing many known and unknown expenses in the future.

He said he thinks the safety village is important, but that it is functioning well at its current location at the Spring Avenue Recreation Center.

"To start another project in this late hour at the changing of the guard, or board, I don't think is a responsible move," Kinzler said. "It should be kinda left to the incoming group."

Hess said he thought not taking a vote would be disrespectful to the current seven-member board.

"The safety village we have now is a piece of asphalt with painted lines on it, a fence around it, and portable buildings we put on it. It's probably the most unattractive and uninviting safety village in the western suburbs at this point," Hess said. "The idea of a safety village is to help kids. It's an extremely important project."

Commissioner Julia Nephew, who later voted with Kinzler and Melissa Creech against the bid award, offered an amendment that the board postpone a decision until the cost to repair a leaky roof at the Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center is known.

She said the cost could be close to $1 million -- a statement that drew the ire of Hess.

Board members have discussed the issue in closed sessions since early last year. Hess said Nephew was bringing up closed session material.

"To throw a dollar amount out that nobody has talked about or have a clue or idea about is totally out of order," he said.

The safety village will feature small replica buildings, and mimic downtown Glen Ellyn.

One structure is on site, with others in the works. Paving the site would make the village operable by this summer, according to park district officials.