'Healthy' laughter marks new leadership in Lombard
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New Lombard Village President Keith Giagnorio told about 200 people gathered for a swearing-in ceremony Thursday night "let's start to govern," and then promptly called for a recess.
It was a bit of comic relief in a board room that's seen little to laugh about the past eight months during a phase of gridlock and contention following the death of former Village President William J. "Bill" Mueller.
Giagnorio called the laughter "healthy" as he and two newly elected trustees were sworn in. He said it signaled a positive departure from conflicts of the past.
"It's so nice to hear laughter in this room for the first time in a long time," Giagnorio said. "We have serious business, but just to smile, to laugh — it's healthy. Everyone probably feels a lot better. That's what this is going to be about."
Joining Giagnorio in taking the oath were Village Clerk Sharon Kuderna, District 1 Trustee Dan Whittington and District 3 Trustee Reid Foltyniewicz. District 6 Trustee Bill Ware stepped down from the acting president role he held since mid-January and was sworn in to the seat he reclaimed after running unopposed.
All thanked their families and supporters. And then the board got down to business.
Hearing from residents seeking a solution to frequent flooding, announcing the grand marshal for this year's Lilac Parade, approving expenditures, outdoor dining requests and liquor license changes — it was all part of a day's work for the new village board.
"These last few months has been a little rough, but it's time to move on," Giagnorio said.
Trustees will be adding one more to their ranks May 16, when Mike Fugiel will be sworn in as District 2 trustee. He was approved unanimously to fill the seat Giagnorio vacated.
The village also is trying to move forward after an estimated 3,000 homes flooded April 18.
Village Manager David Hulseberg said two important projects are under way, including improvements to a pumping station near Route 53 and a project to increase the capacity of Terrace View Pond.
The board approved a $1.2 million contract with Martam Construction of Elgin for the second project, which includes lowering the water level of Terrace View Pond by one foot and adding relief sewers into the pond from Crystal Avenue to the north.
But resident Joyce Nowak asked for more. She lives on Emerson Avenue near Lombard Common park and asked the village to buy her home, which flooded last month — less than three years after it flooded when 7 inches of rain fell in 12 hours in July 2010.
"I'm here to ask the board to buy my home to make it the retention pond it needs to be," Nowak said.
Nowak lives in Trustee Laura Fitzpatrick's district, and Fitzpatrick said the village is working as fast as it can on issues she and her neighbors are facing.
"I know there are major capital improvements in the works; we may have to look at more," Fitzpatrick said. "We're going to have to go back and study each area individually."
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