Park concept to replace Laschen center in Vernon Hills comes with big price
The Vernon Hills village board has agreed to move forward with demolition of the vacant Larry Laschen Community Center, but officials are balking at the potential cost of creating a passive park on the cleared site.
With all the bells and whistles, including a pergola, water wall and abstract art, the park to be built after the building is gone could cost as much as $1.2 million, village officials were told.
Even a stripped-down version would cost an estimated $575,000, and it was unclear when or if a park will be part of the big picture of the familiar property on Evergreen Drive just south of Route 45.
Mayor Roger Byrne said the money could be used to pave streets.
"We just get a turf cover here and move on. C'mon," he said during a presentation and discussion Wednesday.
Other village trustees suggested the project might be considered in phases over time, but there was no specific directive.
"I do acknowledge your comments and concerns about what the price tag is," said David Brown, the village's public works director/engineer. "That's why we have a budget process and we'll go though that discussion."
In late 2017, the village staff prepared general drawings for the site. Bids were sought this April and Dickson Design Studio Inc., of Algonquin, hired as the landscape architect to prepare preliminary designs.
About 30 neighbors attended a recent information session. Dickson Design owner Sharon Dickson laid out the possibilities for the village board Wednesday during the informal committee of the whole session.
Among the main points: The space, just south of the village hall, would be an adult respite without playground equipment. The southern portion would be largely open, and as much vegetation as possible would be preserved.
Suggested amenities included seating, walkways and other features with a central plaza.
"It acts as a really nice transitional buffer between the more active public use of the village hall versus the passive use of the neighborhood and the houses to the south and southeast," she said.
Dickson said the design was still in the conceptual stage.
"We haven't gone to construction documents. That would be up to the board," she said.
Whether it goes that far is to be determined. However, the board directed the village staff to proceed with demolishing the building, preserving some of the existing trees and restoring the site with turf grass.
The building is named for Larry Laschen, hired as police chief in 1973 and retired in 1998 as village manager. It opened in the late 1950s as the clubhouse for the Tally Ho Country Club and subsequently was used as the village hall, park district headquarters and community meeting place.
The building was closed permanently Jan. 1 because it would cost about $250,000 a year to keep it running and it was slated for demolition.
Park: Center will be razed in any case