'End of an era' as Vernon Hills approves demolition of Laschen Community Center
A vestige of Vernon Hills' origins 60 years ago will be torn down in coming months.
After years of study, discussion, concepts and other work, the demise of the vacant Larry Laschen Community Center on Evergreen Drive just south of village hall is official.
Village trustees this week approved a contract not to exceed $236,300, plus a $30,000 contingency, with American Demolition Corp. of Elgin to take the building down.
Getting to this point has been a long process. After a cost analysis, village officials determined it would not be worth the estimated $250,000 annual expense keep the one-time village hall open and operating. The building was permanently closed Jan. 1, 2018, and $300,000 was budgeted for demolition and related work.
Asbestos already has been removed, and the village is awaiting certification before proceeding with demolition. A date for that has not been determined, but the work is expected to take about 60 days once it begins, according to David Brown, village engineer/public works director.
"It's the end of an era for that building," he said.
Once cleared, the site will be restored and planted with grass. Concepts for a park on the site with varying features at costs ranging from $575,000 to $1.2 million were considered but rejected as being too expensive.
The passive space and surrounding property, including four tennis courts adjoining the parking lot, are owned by the village, which is expected to transfer it to the Vernon Hills Park District.
In a separate but related project, three of the four tennis courts will be rebuilt, with an open pad left on the fourth space for a playground.
"There's nothing in writing yet, but they're going to be turning that as well as the tennis courts over to us," said David Doerhoefer, president of the Vernon Hills Park District. "That's really our core competency."
Rebuilding the courts will cost about $150,000 to $200,000, Doerhoefer said, adding that details of how the cost would be shared are being determined.
"We're going to take out four (courts) put three back and leave space for a playground," he said. "They're in pretty rough shape. We'll get those done fairly quickly."
The familiar building on Evergreen Drive is named for Larry Laschen, who was 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 village hall, park district headquarters and a community meeting place.
"It has served its purpose for many years," Brown said. "Ultimately, the cost of maintaining the facility exceeded its worth."