The longest-serving village president in Carol Stream history says he's upset and disappointed about plans to remove his name from signs at the Town Center he helped create.
Two signs on the 22-acre property at the corner of Gary Avenue and Lies Road say "Ross Ferraro Town Center," but initial sketches from an architect hired by the village and park district to redesign the signs propose removing Ferraro's name.
"I'm upset, I gotta be honest with you. I'm not one of those guys to beat around the bush," said Ferraro, who was village president from 1987 to 2007. "I always believed when you dedicate something to a person, you do not undedicate it."
The sign alterations are being proposed as the park district nears completion on its $18 million, 90,846-square-foot Fountain View Recreation Center. The district bought six acres of the village's Town Center land in 2011 to build the rec center.
Members of the village and park boards have said they want the signs to reflect a unified community spirit, which was the same impetus for creating the Town Center in 1998 in the absence of a downtown. But so far, officials from both governmental agencies haven't been able to get on the same page.
Early designs from Williams Architects recommend a portion of the existing stone signs -- which includes Ferraro's name -- be grinded down, leaving room to insert LED electronic messaging panels that would be used to promote events at the Town Center. An aluminum panel would be added above the LED board that says "Town Center," and the words "Carol Stream" would be etched into the existing stone base.
Village Trustee Matt McCarthy said at a joint meeting of the village and park boards last week that removing Ferraro's name is comparable to "a backhanded slap."
Meanwhile, some park board members were unhappy the design changes don't include the name of the new recreation center.
Ferraro said he thinks both boards can compromise.
"Don't get me wrong, those letters are very big. They're bigger than me and I am 5 feet 2 inches," Ferraro said. "Make the name 'Ross Ferraro Town Center' smaller and whatever the park district wants to put under it -- Fountain View Recreation Center of Carol Stream. Just make it smaller."
Ferraro, 70, who lives in Las Vegas most of the year but often returns to Carol Stream, said McCarthy was the only village official to contact him about the proposed sign changes. But Ferraro said he isn't planning to let village officials know his feelings on the proposal.
"I don't think it's my job to come up and let them know my concerns. I think it should be the other way around," he said.
Village President Frank Saverino, who was endorsed by Ferraro to be his successor, said he wants to hear the opinions of three trustees who weren't at last week's joint meeting before the village decides how much money it would be willing to commit to the signs and what the design should be.
"I feel like he does, too," Saverino said. "The problem is the park district's adamant about what they want on the sign and what they don't want on the sign."
Saverino said Ferraro's name should be on a monument in the Town Center at the very least.
"I gotta give him credit. It wouldn't be there if it wasn't for Ross Ferraro," Saverino said.
At last week's meeting, park board President Brenda Gramann favored removing Ferraro's name from the signs but naming an element of the park in his honor.
"With all respect to Ross and all he did for the village and certainly wanting to show our admiration for him, (but) I don't think his name needs to be on the Town Center sign at the entrance as visibly, if at all," Gramann said.
Ferraro said putting his name somewhere else in the park wouldn't be the same.
And he said there's plenty of examples of buildings and streets in Carol Stream that have been named in honor of people who are still alive, such as village hall, named for longtime Village Manager Greg Bielawski.
"I like when a person is alive so they can see it," Ferraro said. "After a person is dead, he or she doesn't see anything."
It could cost as much as $420,000 to redesign both signs, and park board members have proposed splitting the cost with the village. But Saverino and some village board members have expressed reservations with that plan.
The village board will likely discuss the signs at its regular meeting Feb. 19.