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updated: 7/10/2013 5:27 AM

Lake Arlington trail safety will be looked at, officials say

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  • Arlington Heights Park District officials say they will again look at how to increase safety at Lake Arlington after a woman who was hit in June by an 11-year-old cyclist died last week.

       Arlington Heights Park District officials say they will again look at how to increase safety at Lake Arlington after a woman who was hit in June by an 11-year-old cyclist died last week.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Barbara Pagano

      Barbara Pagano
    Courtesy of Glueckert Funeral Home


Arlington Heights Park District officials say they will again look at how to increase safety at Lake Arlington after a woman who was hit in June by an 11-year-old cyclist died last week.

Police and park district officials are saying the death of Barbara Pagano, 74, was a tragic accident.

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On June 18, Pagano was walking on the path around Lake Arlington at the same time a group of young riders on a sponsored outing from the Buffalo Grove Park District were bicycling on the path.

As the youngsters approached Pagano from behind, one rider moved to the side to go around her, but an 11-year-old riding behind didn't see her in time and hit her, Arlington Heights police Capt. Ken Galinski said.

Pagano fell and hit her head, Galinski said. She was hospitalized at Northwest Community Hospital until her death July 3.

Her family declined to comment Tuesday, but friends said the family does not want the 11-year-old boy to know Pagano died.

"It's a very tragic accident. It's just horrible," Galinski said. No one will be charged or cited, he added.

Pagano, 74, was said to be in very good health and walked on the Lake Arlington path near her home regularly.

"Everybody loved her. She had a smile to win everyone over. She always had a joke or a story to tell," said her neighbor and friend, Pam Greenberg.

Her car, now sitting in the garage because her husband can't bear to move it, is adorned with vanity plates that read "STBARB," for all that she did for everyone else, including being a caregiver for her sister, Greenberg said.

Pagano was also a part-time secretary at Glenbrook North High School and was an active volunteer at St. Edna's Catholic Church.

The posted speed limit on the path is 8 miles per hour, but residents are saying that's not enough to keep pedestrians safe. Several are organizing to ask the park district to build another path for visitors on wheels -- bikers and in-line skaters only.

"Bikers deserve to bike and bladers deserve to blade, but on that path they can't be in the same place," Greenberg said. "They've got to come up with a solution or another place for the bikers to go."

Having a separate path for bikers and in-line skaters is something the park district has considered before and may consider again, Executive Director Steve Scholten said.

Arlington Heights voters rejected two tax increases in 2012 -- one for $48 million and one for $39 million. Included in the plans for that money was a second path at Lake Arlington.

Doing a separate bike path alone would cost $875,000, Scholten said. Since the tax increases were rejected there hasn't been further discussion of adding another path.

"We will continue to look at ways to make the path as safe as possible," he said Tuesday, though he said there are no immediate plans to make any changes.

Lake Arlington staff members periodically patrol the path and grounds on foot, in addition to village police officers who visit the park on patrol.

Galinski said police monitor the lake as often as possible.

"There's nothing we can change as far as how we conduct business up there," he said. "In the summertime it does get crowded, and we need people to observe the posted rules to stay safe."

But added enforcement alone won't solve the problem, Scholten said, and it would cost the park district or police department more money to implement.

"If we put more of a presence on the path, that will only change people's behavior when we're there," Scholten said. "We'll have to flesh out some ideas and see what might work."

Another neighbor and friend of the family, George Bernero, said his wife was knocked over by a cyclist while walking at Lake Arlington a few years ago. She had the wind knocked out of her and a few scrapes, but was otherwise uninjured.

With those two accidents and many more close calls he said he's heard about, Bernero said he'd like to see bikers banned from the path, even though he knows that's an unlikely option.

"People go a lot faster than they should, and someone else is going to get hurt," Bernero said.

According to Pagano's obituary, she is survived by her husband Nick, two children and six grandchildren.

"The neighbors around us promised that we are going to do something," Greenberg said. "I just want justice for Barbara. I want to make sure her voice is heard."

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