Parks officials to determine who will run Villa Olivia

Posted11/5/2010 1:00 AM

Bartlett Park District officials have not yet decided what will happen to the employees of the Villa Olivia Country Club once they take control of the 138-acre golf course and ski resort.

Instead, officials say they're focused on finalizing the club's purchase, said Steve Eckelberry, the park board vice president.

Voters on Tuesday approved a tax increase allowing the district to borrow $18 million to buy Villa Olivia and renovate the Bartlett Aquatic Center. The park district is expected to complete the purchase, which includes the club's golf course, banquet hall and ski hill, by the end of the year.

"We can't do anything until we have the property," Eckelberry said.

Once the deal is complete, Bartlett will be the only park district in the state that owns a ski hill. That makes finding employees with experience a must.

"I'm sure we're going to do everything we can to get qualified people," Eckelberry said. "Whether that means former Villa Olivia employees or not, we're got to do the best that we can."

Meanwhile, it's business as usual at Villa Olivia, 1401 W. Lake St.

"We're still committed to the same great food and service," said Mary Lou Corrado, one of the club's owners.

The Corrados have owned Villa Olivia since 1966, and Corrado said her family has struggled with giving up the business after 44 years.

"It's bittersweet," she said.

In preparation for the transition, the family submitted a report Oct. 21 notifying the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity of potential layoffs.

The paperwork, required by the state when employers anticipate laying off 75 or more workers, was in preparation of the park district taking control of the facility.

However, Corrado said, no layoffs have been made. and future staffing decisions are up to the district.

No one has talked to the staff of 187 workers about the possibility of losing their jobs "but they understand the realities," Corrado said.

The park district's next board meeting is Tuesday.

The village of Bartlett Plan Commission meets Nov. 18 to address reannexing Villa Olivia. The property shifted to unincorporated Cook County when the Corrado family was locked in a legal struggle with Bartlett over development of the site.