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Article updated: 2/20/2013 11:52 AM

Ferraro's name will stay on Carol Stream signs

By Christopher Placek

Two existing identification signs at Carol Stream's Town Center that include the name of former Village President Ross Ferraro will be staying put.

The village board voted 4-1 Tuesday to keep the signs as is and not make any alterations as had been previously discussed with park district officials.

The decision comes as the park district prepares to open its new $18 million, 90,846-square-foot Fountain View Recreation Center this summer at the Town Center, at Gary Avenue and Lies Road. And it likely means the park district will have to pay for its own signage in front of the rec center.

Parks officials had hoped to share the cost of modifications to the two existing signs -- as much as $420,000 for both -- but members of the village board balked at the price.

Initial sketches from Williams Architects proposed removing the portions of the signs that include Ferraro's name in order to make room for LED electronic messaging panels that would have been used to promote both village and park district events at the Town Center. The updated signs were proposed to include the words "Town Center" and "Carol Stream" -- but not Ferraro's name or that of the new recreation center.

Village Trustee Matt McCarthy had said removing Ferraro's name would have been comparable to "a backhanded slap."

Some of Ferraro's family was at Tuesday's meeting, but they did not speak during the public comment period.

The park board initially suggested the two governmental entities split the cost but then agreed to a 60-40 cost share.

Even still, village trustees said Tuesday they couldn't afford it.

McCarthy said the cost of the signs inspired "sticker shock."

"I love working with the park district. This may be one issue that we should go ahead and let them do their own thing," McCarthy said.

Trustee Greg Schwarze said it would be difficult for the village to spend money on the signs, particularly as he's sat in contract negotiations "fighting tooth and nail" to give village employees small raises.

"It'd be hard for me to look at a police officer or secretary and justify paying anything for something that is a luxury," Schwarze said. "I love the park district, but I'm not sure I can justify spending this amount of money right now."

Trustee Tony Manzzullo said it could be a "monstrosity" to place "Ross Ferraro Town Center," "Fountain View Recreation Center," "Carol Stream" and a new LED message panel all on the same sign.

"I like our signs. I think they should stay and I think the park district should explore their own signs," Manzzullo said.

Trustee Mary Frusolone, the lone vote against, said she favored asking Williams Architects to come back with "a more economical price," and if they didn't, then she would favor the park district paying for the signs alone.

Before the meeting, park board President Brenda Gramann told the village board there was never discussion about renaming the Ross Ferraro Town Center, but there had been discussions about changing the existing signs and considering moving a portion of it to "a different honorable place in the park" to make room for the LED message boards.

In a Feb. 13 article in the Daily Herald, Ferraro said he was upset and disappointed about plans to remove his name from the signs, and said it wouldn't be the same if his name was put elsewhere.

"I always believed when you dedicate something to a person, you do not undedicate it," Ferraro said.

On Tuesday, Gramann said no decisions were made during a Feb. 4 joint meeting of the village and park boards, which had "preliminary discussion" on the sign designs. She called the Feb. 13 Daily Herald article "misleading at best" and said it led to "nasty" comments from some in the community.

"I know Ross Ferraro and I would not want to hurt his feelings. The way he was informed was premature," she said.

She said the park board would be discussing the signs at its Feb. 25 board meeting.

"It seems more likely the park board will be adding our own signs," she said.

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