Four Mundelein trustees renew objections to park plan
A quartet of Mundelein trustees this week renewed their objections to developing a park on Route 45 near Diamond Lake.
"We just can't afford to keep spending money on frivolous things," Trustee Dawn Abernathy said Friday. "We need to fix our infrastructure and our roads."
Championed by Mayor Steve Lentz, the park has been proposed for about 3 acres of village-owned land at Allanson Road, on the lake's northeast shore. Mundelein bought the property in 2018 and razed commercial and residential buildings there so a park could be created.
At the time, Abernathy and Robin Meier were the only trustees who opposed the project. They've since been joined by trustees Kara Lambert and Erich Schwenk, both of whom were elected last year.
In August, the foursome scuttled a proposal to apply for a state grant that would help pay for the park's development.
"We are upset that the mayor keeps pushing for more at the park," Abernathy said. "At least four of us are saying stop."
During Monday night's village board meeting, Abernathy questioned why the village recently received a bill from Kimley-Horn and Associates, the consultants hired to develop preliminary plans for the land last year.
Village Administrator John Lobaito explained the bill was for work the firm completed in 2019. He said the firm's efforts stopped with concept drawings and that nothing else has been ordered.
"There's no more work planned by Kimley-Horn," he said. But Lobaito also noted more bills for work completed last year could still be submitted.
Lambert wasn't satisfied. She expressed concern work "that we vehemently oppose" is being done by Kimley-Horn.
"I think we're all a little bit leery of seeing that name associated with this park on an invoice on a financial statement," Lambert said.
Lentz said two options for a park have been developed. One version relies on the village's receipt of the state grant for funding, he said, while the other doesn't include that grant money and would be scaled back accordingly.
The board will review the plans at an unspecified future meeting, Lentz said. But he also acknowledged some village officials already shared the plans with Diamond Lake-area residents at a gathering last year.
"We wanted to get the neighbors' input," he said.
That displeased Schwenk.
"If we're spending village money to create plans for a park and the board hasn't seen those plans, but we're out there showing them to our residents, I don't think that's above board," he said.
Abernathy subsequently asked why any work is being done on the project if a board majority opposes it. Lentz and Community Development Director Amanda Orenchuk insisted any work being done is part of the original $17,500 contract with Kimley-Horn.
As for Meier, she said she wants elements of the project to be presented in four distinct parts so trustees can approve or reject them piece by piece.
Lentz said that's fine.