The idea of a boxing club in a long vacant commercial building in Round Lake Beach sounds good, according to village officials, but several details need to be addressed before that could happen.
Chicago Golden Gloves champion Jose Hernandez wants to open a boxing gym in the former Altman's Emporium at 1025 Cedar Lake Road. Helping kids and young adults with common problems and provide mentoring, motivation, and self-discipline, would be among the benefits, he said in information provided to the village.
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The proposal is in the early stage, but the chief issue is a requirement that sprinklers be installed if something other than a retail establishment occupies the building. Hernandez, who does not own the building, says he wants to comply but is asking for two years to do so.
Allowing that time would require a change in sprinkler rules, it was noted Monday during a discussion by the village board's economic development committee.
"It's a great idea," Trustee Judy Armstrong said. "Our concern is the sprinkler ordinance and the safety of the kids. Who ultimately will be responsible for the installation of the sprinklers and when will it be done?"
As a non-retail activity in a designated commercial area, the gym is classified as a special use and would need to be reviewed by the village's planning and zoning commission and approved by the village board.
But changing the sprinkler ordinance is the sticking point. Hernandez said he is reluctant to invest resources to develop detailed plans for review and establish a charitable organization to buy the building, if the board doesn't support the idea.
"I'm not going to vote for this. We have to be consistent and fair," Trustee Sue Butler said early in the discussion.
Trustee Larry Mount said he would keep an open mind to see if an acceptable solution could be found.
Trustee Sylvia Valadez, who chairs the committee, said what Hernandez had in mind was "excellent" but another location might be better.
As proposed, the work out/exercise area and a classroom would occupy most of the one-story portion of the building. A cinder block wall separating it from the two-story portion provides some fire protection but how much work would be needed to make it sufficient is to be determined.
The cost of upgrading water service and installing the sprinklers just in the one-story portion could be about $40,000, according to Village Administrator Dave Kilbane.
"There seems to be a willingness to do it (but) how are we going to meet these conditions?" he said. "The board wants a guarantee for a length of time."
Hernandez said about 50 kids a day would use the facility.
Kilbane noted that sprinklers would not need to be installed if another retail use moved in. He asked whether the ordinance, fashioned many years ago, is making it difficult to fill gaps on Cedar Lake Road with new businesses because the sprinkler cost is prohibitive.
Kilbane said he plans to meet with Hernandez soon to discuss details to be discussed at a future date by the committee.