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updated: 5/18/2011 6:33 AM

Glen Ellyn halts work on park's safety village

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A new majority of members on the Glen Ellyn Park District board continued to wash their hands of a long-planned safety village project endorsed by their predecessors.

On Tuesday, the board voted 5-1 to formally terminate a contract for construction of the village at Maryknoll Park, while agreeing to pay for work already completed.

Board members have argued the project was too costly for a park district in need of fiscal restraint.

In their last meeting April 19, a majority of commissioners led by former Board President Ed Hess approved a contract with Copenhaver Construction for $69,252 for paving and concrete installation on one-third of the safety village site.

Since then, the company has laid out the safety village's footprint, completed installation of storm sewers, and excavated the site to subgrade -- amounting to $13,350 of work. Coupled with design fees paid to LandTech Landscape Architecture, the district must pay a total of $17,668.

Meanwhile, the fate of a $30,000 state grant for the project secured by State Rep. Sandra Pihos is unclear.

Board attorney Steve Adams said the money could only be used for the safety village at Maryknoll Park -- per the agreement signed by the park district and state. Though chances are slim, the park district could attempt to modify the agreement to try to use the money for another purpose, he said.

Board members directed park district staff to talk with Pihos to see if the money could be used elsewhere. Otherwise, the grant would have to be returned.

In a last-ditch effort to save the project and keep the state grant, Commissioner Ron Aubrey proposed that he lead a fundraising effort to garner the needed funds to complete the safety village.

"I'm just wondering if board members have considered what the consequences are to all those people who have committed with past donations and time, and current ones and future ones?" Aubrey said.

Commissioner Jay Kinzler said he's talked with some members of the Glen Ellyn Parks Foundation who indicated it was park district officials who came to them about raising money for the safety village -- and not the other way around.

"It's not like their main goal was doing safety village," Kinzler said. "I would hope they would see the financial constraints we're in."