Villa Park delays demolition of Lufkin Pool after residents question legality of vote
A planned demolition of Lufkin Pool in Villa Park was postponed this week after officials learned the village board must take another vote to hire a company to do the work.
Village trustees last month voted 4-3 to authorize acceptance of a proposal from American Demolition Corp. of Elgin to demolish the decades-old pool and its related structures at 1000 Ardmore Ave.
But in a letter sent to a group trying to save the pool, Village President Al Bulthuis said residents raised questions about the legality of the April 8 vote. While investigating the concern, Bulthuis said officials discovered the village violated its code by not advertising for bids on the demolition project.
Villa Park obtained quotes for the work by asking American Demolition and two other companies to submit proposals. But village code states a contract must be awarded “to the lower responsible bidder after advertising for bids,” according to Bulthuis.
As a result, Bulthuis said he directed the village manager to suspend the planned demolition and to advertise for bids for the project. He said the board will vote again after receiving new bids.
“I want to make sure we do everything properly based on village code,” Bulthuis said Wednesday.
Members of the Save Lufkin Pool group said they were pleased the village halted the demolition.
“We feel the village, in its haste to demolish the pool, has not done things the right way,” said Steve Seddon, a member of Save Lufkin Pool. He said the group hopes that village officials follow proper procedures in the future “to regain the trust” of residents.
The bidding process will take place this month. Meanwhile, the second vote by the village board will be delayed until at least June.
Because of the delay, two new trustees elected in April will be able to participate.
Christine Murphy and Kevin Patrick, who will be sworn in next week, both support saving the pool.
It’s unknown if their participation will change the outcome of the vote.
“I really have no idea how it will go,” Bulthuis said. “You never know until you actually vote.”
Bulthuis joined trustees David Cilella, Donald Kase and Chris Aiello in supporting the demolition resolution on April 8. Nick Cuzzone, Cheryl Tucker and Robert Wagner voted against.
Murphy and Patrick are replacing Kase and Aiello on the board.
But Cuzzone said on April 8 that he supports demolishing Lufkin Pool. He said he only voted “no” that night because the board had promised to make the decision in June.
And while Tucker opposed the resolution on April 8, she said there’s no money to repair the pool.
The vote came less than a week after a nonbinding ballot question found Villa Park voters aren’t willing to spend money to save Lufkin. Nearly 53 percent of voters rejected the advisory question asking if they support spending up to $1 million to fix the pool.
Lufkin Pool has been a subject of discussion on and off since November 2017, when village trustees rejected two separate repair proposals that could have allowed the facility to open for another year.
The pool sat dormant last summer after trustees chose not to pay $200,000 to make enough repairs for it to open for one more season. Villa Park residents instead could swim at Jefferson Pool.