Deicke Home may be revived through non-profit organization
By Jane Charmelo LOMBARDIAN-VILLA PARK REVIEW STAFF REPORTER
The now-closed Deicke Home for residents with developmental disabilities may get a breath of life as one organization is eyeing the property for redevelopment. According to Eric Huffman, executive director of the Over the Rainbow Association (OTR), the non-profit is considering the property for use as residential apartments for individuals with physical disabilities. The Deicke Home, which closed nearly three years ago due to lack of operating funds, had 11 bedrooms that housed two residents to a room, Huffman outlined, adding that OTR’s plan would involve creating 14 new single-occupancy units. Huffman said Housing and Urban Development, or HUD—which had provided rent subsidies for Deicke Home residents—contacted him some six to eight months ago. “They [HUD] really wanted to try to preserve the units,” he related, and hoped to enter into a similar agreement with OTR, should the organization be able to take over the building. Huffman said he met with the Deicke Home’s former director, Bruce Thompson, to tour the building and discovered, “The bones of the building were in very good shape.” He said that while OTR’s other residential buildings typically have between 30 to 40 units as the “deal,” the Deicke Home has potential nonetheless. The building, he continued, would be “gutted” in order to build the new bedrooms and enlarge them for wheelchair access. The showers and kitchen facilities would also be reconfigured to allow for wheelchairs, the director added, saying that the elevator and basement would likely remain pretty much as they already exist. The director said OTR is currently building its 11th facility in Des Plaines, slated to open in October, emphasizing, “All our buildings are completely barrier free.” That effort was recognized by the Urban Land Institute of Chicago, which gave OTR its Vision Award, in the affordable housing category, for affordable, barrier-free housing at Southwick Place in Matteson. The apartments are designed “for people with physical disabilities who desire to live and are capable of living independently,” the director described. Huffman said he is encouraged by the prospect of developing the new facility here in Lombard. He realizes “it hinges on community support,” so OTR recently held a neighborhood meeting to outline the organization’s proposal. The director said some 25 to 30 residents attended, who he called “very nice people.” He explained to them that the building would be put to “a use that’s very consistent” with its former one. Residents asked about landscaping, Huffman recounted, adding that the former workshop to the east would be razed, and landscaping put in its place. He said that so far, there have been no issues in other communities where OTR residents live, adding that in fact, “We’ve been a real asset to the neighborhoods we’re in.” In order to move forward, Huffman outlined, OTR will meet with the Village of Lombard Plan Commission for a public hearing, after which, the petition would move on to the village board. Additionally, OTR has applied to the Illinois Housing Development Authority to help provide funding needed to proceed with the project, Huffman noted. HUD, he said, is willing to “take over the agreement they had with Deicke” to help subsidize rent for residents who qualify. The director mentioned that OTR did a market study of the area, and found, “You have a ton of people who can use this housing.” The public hearing will take place Monday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in the Lombard Village Hall, 255 E. Wilson St., Lombard. For more information, call Community Development at 630-620- 5749. For more information about the Evanston-based Over the Rainbow Association, visit www.otrassn.org.
Lombard Town Centre gets grant approval from village board
By Jane Charmelo LOMBARDIAN-VILLA PARK REVIEW STAFF REPORTER
At the Thursday, March 16, Village of Lombard Board meeting, the board considered a grant request from the Lombard Town Centre (LTC), in an amount not to exceed $12,500. The purpose of the grant, according to the LTC, is to help offset costs for the Spooktacular event that this year will take place on Saturday, Oct. 14. LTC’s new executive director, Stephanie Schiszik, explained that the Spooktacular, which was launched 11 years ago, is Lombard Town Centre’s “signature event” that began as a trick-or-treating event in Lombard’s downtown. With over 4,500 attendees during a four-hour event for families, this year the LTC proposes holding the event from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. on a Saturday instead of Sunday. Schiszik said the purpose is “adding in more experiences for adults of all ages,” as well as increasing attendance to between 5,000 and 5,500 visitors. As for the basic logistics, St. Charles Road would be closed between Main Street to the East and Elizabeth Street to the west, and Park Street would be closed between Orchard and Michael McGuire Drive. While in the past, there was a $1 admission fee for children and adults were free, this year the LTC noted that there will be a $5 donation for adults and children will be free. There will be three entry points to the Spooktacular, the director said. However, “There will be provisions to allow people access to businesses even if they are not attending the event.” “This event is designed to support the downtown business,” Schiszik said, noting that there will be various revenue sources from grants to sponsorships to vendor fees, which she commented is “a well-thought-out mix.” “The plan has a certain amount of flexibility in it so we can adjust as needed as we go forward,” she stated. Trustee Mike Fugiel, chair of the Community Promotion and Tourism Committee, said that the committee reviews various applications for grants but does not typically focus so much on the logistics; rather, that issue is addressed when it comes time to request a special event permit. He did say the original request from the LTC was for $15,000, but the committee was “uncomfortable with that and took it down to $12,500 and that’s where we stand today.” Fugiel also noted that before making a recommendation to the board whether or not to approve the grant, the Community Promotion and Tourism Committee requested more information from the LTC pertaining to its anticipated expenditures and revenues. Trustee Reid Foltyniewicz asked if that $12,500 included public works, police and fire, to which LTC Board President Chris Cholewa responded, “That includes village safety, staging [barricades] and waste management services. That’s all.” “Everything else we’re supporting through the event ourselves,” she added. Board President Keith Giagnorio commented, “Pertaining to the businesses that are down there, it’s very important that there is communication and those businesses fully understand that it’s going to be a Saturday, all day, all night; that there’s going to be no traffic going down there.” He added that there will be foot traffic, and “hopefully there will be a trade-off there.” “Once we OK that, we’re on the hook, too,” the village president said. “We don’t want to disrupt the businesses,” Cholewa emphasized. “We want to increase [their] visibility.” She reiterated that individuals who wish to access the downtown without participating in the Spooktacular will be able to do so. “We believe strongly in answering any concerns before they could happen,” Cholewa added. “The goal is to give the information to people before they have to come to us and ask the questions.” Trustee Dan Whittington inquired about parking behind Fairy Tales, which the LTC president said would be accessible. Village Manager Scott Niehaus clarified that the board vote was specifically to address the grant request, and that the special event permit, liquor license, etc.—yet to be submitted— would be reviewed and voted on separately. The board approved the grant request— coming from Hotel/Motel Tax revenues—with Trustee Robyn Pike abstaining due to what she stated was a commitment to the Spooktacular Committee.
In other business:
The Village of Lombard declared Saturday, March 25, as Earth Hour Day, from 8:30-9:30 p.m. Since 2008, the village has participated in the annual day in which lights are turned off for that hour to conserve electricity, reduce power plant emissions of greenhouse gases and create environmental awareness. Last year over 7,000 communities in over 170 countries participated in Earth Hour, according to the village.
Breen’s 360-lid technology bill receives unanimous House approval
With a unanimous showing of support in the House of Representatives last week, legislation sponsored by State Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) that allows craft brewing companies in Illinois to utilize new 360-lid technology is one step closer to becoming a law. “These 360-lids are the newest innovation in beer can technology,” said Breen. “By essentially removing the entire lid of a beer can, an aluminum drinking vessel is created that allows consumers to better enjoy the aromas associated with IPAs and other hoppy beers. Fourteen states already allow this technology, and the adoption of HB 2386 will allow craft brewing companies in Illinois to remain competitive.” According to Breen, the idea for HB 2386 was brought to him by the owners of Lombard’s Noon Whistle Brewing Company, when they discovered that the Environmental Protection Act from the 1980s prohibited the removal of any portion of the top of a beverage can. “Under this legislation, the small aluminum tabs that posed a safety hazard 30 years ago are still banned,” Breen said. “This bill simply carves out a narrow exception for much larger 360-lids in the craft brew industry.” The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Civil War reenactment demonstration March 30
The public is invited to join the Lombard Historical Society and members of Stanford’s Battery for a sneak preview of the 2017 Lombard Civil War Reenactment at the Sheldon Peck Homestead, 355 E. Parkside in Lombard, on Thursday, March 30, from 2-6 p.m. This living history demonstration will show what camp life was like for soldiers during the Civil War. Stanford’s Battery is the host unit for the Lombard Civil War Reenactment, which will take place at Four Seasons Park in Lombard on July 22 and 23. During that weekend, visitors will have the chance to mingle with Union and Confederate soldiers, visit with Abe Lincoln, view a small skirmish in the morning and larger battle in the afternoon each day, experience living history demonstrations, shop, eat, and much more. Friday, July 21, will be a repeat of the historical society’s popular Civil War Trivia night co-hosted by the Helen Plum Library, in the main tent from 7-8:30 p.m. Follow the Lombard Historical Society on Facebook or visit our website to get more information on the July reenactment. The Sheldon Peck Homestead will also be open to the public for tours the day of the sneak peek. The Lombard Historical Society operates The Victorian Cottage Museum at 23 W. Maple St., and the Sheldon Peck Homestead at 355 E. Parkside. For more information on the Lombard Historical Society, call 630-629- 1885 or visit lombardhistory.org.
Lisle woman accused of forging petitions for seat on COD Board of Trustees
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced last week that Rafath Waheed, 61, of Lisle, has been charged with submitting forged petitions to earn a seat on the College of DuPage (COD) Board of Trustees. On March 14, a $10,000 with 10 percent to apply arrest warrant was issued for Waheed. On March 13, Waheed turned herself in to authorities and was released after posting the necessary $1,000, or 10 percent, of her $10,000 bond. It is alleged prior to Dec. 19, 2016, Waheed collected signatures on petitions for her to apply as a candidate for the COD Board of Trustees. It is further alleged that at some point in time, Waheed made photocopies of two completed signature portions of the petitions and then completed the candidate information by hand. Also, it’s further alleged that she then notarized those petitions as authentic. It is alleged that Waheed then filed these petitions, along with the originals, with the proper COD authorities. Her alleged scheme was uncovered during a hearing on an objection that was filed against her petitions. “The bedrock of our entire system of government is free and fair elections,” Berlin said. “It is alleged that Mrs. Waheed, in an effort to win a seat on the COD Board of Trustees, attempted to circumvent one of the basic requirements for candidacy—filing petitions with the correct number of authentic signatures.” In all, Waheed is charged with two counts of forgery, two counts of issuing a forged document and four counts of perjury. All offenses are a Class 3 felony. Waheed’s next court appearance is scheduled for April 12 in front of Judge Liam Brennan.
Prairie Food Co-op earns award from FCI
Directors of Prairie Food Coop recently attended a national co-op conference in Milwaukee, Wis., where the co-op received the first-ever Cooperative Citizen Award for “going far above and beyond to share knowledge, experience, and solutions with peer startups, contributing significantly to the growth of the overall food co-op startup community.” The award was given by Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) - a national non-profit organization devoted to helping food co-ops. “The entire Prairie Food Co-op team has demonstrated a combination of generosity, dedication and talent that makes them uniquely qualified to share advice and best practices with the co-op community,” said Jacqueline Hannah, cooperative development specialist with FCI. In addition, Ownership Chair Jeremy Nash was honored to present two workshops at the conference. Prairie Food Co-op co-founder and President Kathy Nash said, “This award is an amazing affirmation of years of working hard to open the first cooperatively owned grocery store in DuPage county. We are honored to be recognized by cooperative experts as a strong, knowledgeable, and well-organized group.” Prairie Food Co-op is a Lombard- based organization working to open a full service grocery store that will provide better access to locally and sustainably produced food. Coops rely on their community to show support by purchasing “ownership” shares of the business. “Public interest in food co-ops is at an all-time high,” reported FCI Executive Director Stuart Reid. “By owning and controlling their own cooperative store, communities are able to ensure stable access to healthy food, provide meaningful jobs and support local producers. Food co-ops can become both an economic anchor and a social hub for the community.” Over 638 residents of Lombard, Villa Park, Glen Ellyn and surrounding areas have invested in Prairie Food Co-op. The board is currently in lease negotiations on a site in Lombard. Once the co-op has 800 owners, there is sufficient support to move forward with signing a lease and preparing for opening day. “We would love to see our Lombard area friends and neighbors join the co-op,” said Kathy Nash. Prairie Food Co-op will be a cooperatively- owned and democratically- operated full service grocery store dedicated to strengthening our local economy and creating a marketplace for transparently labeled, local, organic and sustainable food. To learn more about Prairie Food Co-op or to become an owner, visit the Web site at www.prairiefood. coop.