Schaumburg Township leaders are promising that dental health services for low-income residents are not being threatened, despite the services becoming something of a political football among high-ranking officials in recent weeks.
The Northwest Community Hospital Mobile Dental Clinic visits Schaumburg Township Hall three times a month, parking next to the Highway Department garage in order to connect to its electricity supply.
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But last month, township Highway Commissioner Robert Fecarotta shut off the van's power in an effort to get the clinic to move to a part of the lot he believes to be safer.
He cited the example of a woman who came to use the clinic, walked past it and inquired at the open bay doors of the highway department garage instead. That's only one example of the possible safety hazards of the clinic being so close to the garage, he said.
"Was there a risk of her being run over? Yes," Fecarotta said. "Was the risk a million to one? Yes. But the risk was there."
Fecarotta added that he's also concerned about his drivers operating so close to the dental clinic, especially when plowing or salting the lot in the winter.
But township Supervisor Mary Wroblewski sees additional taxpayer costs in extending an electrical connection to another part of the township's parking lot at 1 Illinois Blvd. in Hoffman Estates.
Playing a role in the long road to a resolution has been Fecarotta's refusal to communicate with Wroblewski in any other way but by email.
Fecarotta said the relationship between the two has deteriorated to the point that he wants a paper trail of all their conversations.
In the meantime, he has been trying to work out a solution with township Administrator Larry Weniger, hoping Weniger could communicate it to the township's board of trustees.
Wroblewski said that's a big part of why a resolution is taking so long.
"How can you work out an agreement with someone when you're not talking to the right person?" she asked.
During the one day so far that the dental clinic has been without electricity from the township, it operated on its own generator. But that is not the best long-term solution, Weniger said.
An electrician estimated the cost of running a permanent line to another part of the lot at more than $20,000, Weniger said.
Fecarotta believes the clinic can operate a sufficient distance from his garage and use an extension cord to still get power from the garage. He's hoping the township trustees will sign an agreement with him that would ensure the cost of electricity for the dental clinic comes out of their budget, not his, and that his employees are absolved of responsibility for the clinic's safe setup and from snow removal in the parking lot on clinic days.
Other officials said the cost of snow removal would have to be contracted from others if the township's own highway department won't do it on certain days.
Nancy Colovos, manager of the clinic, said she's not aware of any political issues that have affected its operation.
Since the service began visiting Schaumburg Township last fall, there has been a full schedule of 10 to 12 residents each day, Wroblewski said. The residents, who pay a nominal $30 fee for the services, are screened to determine their financial need, she added.
Weniger said patients won't be turned away even if the portable generator is needed on future dates.