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Article posted: 2/8/2013 5:42 PM

Carol Stream parks, village bicker over sign costs

By Christopher Placek

What's your sign?

In Carol Stream, ask village and park officials and they'll say it could cost you $210,000 to find out.

That's the estimated maximum price to redo one identification sign at the Ross Ferraro Town Center, where the park district's new recreation center is set to open this summer.

Officials from both governmental agencies have said they want the entire Town Center space, located at the corner of Gary Avenue and Lies Road, to be a unified community spot. And so last year they hired an architect to design modifications to two existing signs on site to reflect that spirit.

But signs of unity -- at least when it comes to dollars and cents -- quickly disappeared this week when an architect told members of both the village and park boards how much it could cost to make the design changes.

The village spent $147,000 in 2004 to install both signs; one is located at the corner of Gary and Fountain View Drive, and the other is at Lies and Fountain View.

Officials are proposing to grind down a portion of the existing stone signs and insert LED electronic messaging panels that would be used to promote events at the Town Center.

Park board members suggested the two governmental entities split the cost, but Village President Frank Saverino and members of the village board who attended the meeting are skeptical of that plan.

Saverino said the village already has an LED sign in front of village hall less than a mile south on Gary, and questioned if it would need another one so close. And he questioned how many village events would be promoted on the Town Center sign compared to park district events.

"If we're gonna buy a car together and you're gonna drive it four days a week and were gonna drive it three, we're not gonna spend the same amount," Saverino said.

He also said it would be "tough to justify" spending about $200,000 to make the sign modifications at a time when village purse strings are tight and village employees haven't been getting raises.

Frank Parisi of Williams Architects said it would cost $70,000 alone for the LED panel and $30,000 to connect it to the closest power source.

Park board members acknowledged the high cost of the signs, but all seven polled this week believed a 50-50 cost split was fair.

"The perception of splitting this evenly is important to show we are united as a community," park Commissioner Dan Bird said.

Added Commissioner Jacqueline Jeffery, "If I'm a resident of Carol Stream, I'm not going to think the village owns this and the park district owns this. This is gonna be Carol Stream."

Park board President Brenda Gramann also prefers splitting the cost, but said she was "willing to bend, if that's what it takes" to get the sign changes complete by the time the new recreation center opens.

One village trustee, Mary Frusolone, proposed a 60-40 split.

Saverino said he wanted to gauge the opinions of three other village trustees who were not at the meeting before committing to how much the village would be willing to spend.

Also at issue is the design of the signs.

Initial sketches from Williams Architects proposes removing the existing "Ross Ferraro Town Center" portion of the signs from the stone base, then adding the LED board and aluminum panel above that says "Town Center." The words "Carol Stream" would be etched into the existing stone base.

One proposal is to have a small monument on site with the name of the former village president, who has been credited with having the idea to create the Town Center.

"I'm not big on naming things for people who are still alive," Village Trustee Matt McCarthy said. "But we already have. I was part of that decision. Taking it off almost turns into a backhanded slap. It's not meant, but it can almost be taken that way."

McCarthy suggested Ferraro's name be placed in smaller lettering somewhere on the signs.

Park board Vice President Wynn Ullman said he didn't like that the name of the park district's new building, Fountain View Recreation Center, wasn't proposed to be on the signs at all.

"We're gonna spend a lot of money and not even have our new rec center name on either (sign)," Ullman said. "It says nothing about a park district. It says nothing about a rec center."

The park district purchased six acres of village-owned Town Center land in February 2011 for $1.6 million to build the rec center. Construction on the two-story, 90,846-square-foot building is nearing completion, with a soft opening scheduled for the summer and a grand opening planned for Labor Day weekend.

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