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Elmhurst park board discusses options for Lizzadro building

Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art to move to Oak Brook

ELMHURST – Elmhurst Park District staff will consider proposals from organizations wanting to use the building the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art is scheduled to vacate in late 2019, the district's Board of Commissioners decided at its Sept. 10 meeting.

The Park District contracted with Dewberry Architects to complete a facility assessment of the building, which is at 220 S. Cottage Hill Ave. in Elmhurst. The building in Wilder Park will become the property of the Park District following the museum's move to Oak Brook, according to a district agreement made in 1961 with the Lizzadro Family Foundation, a Sept. 10 district memo stated.

The assessment included a review of the building's structure as well as its mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, according to the memo. Park District and Dewberry Architects staff also toured the site and facility June 18, the memo stated.

The assessment found several site and facility issues would need to be addressed, including the improvement of heating, ventilation and air conditioning; the installation of a fire protection system; and the replacement of the roof, lighting, exterior main entrance, stairs and guardrails, according to the memo. The building is currently not ADA compliant, the memo stated.

Dewberry Architects estimated bringing the building up to current code and standards would cost $1.2 million, and remodeling improvements, including a full service elevator, would add about $500,000, according to the memo.

The Park District could demolish the building and return the area to green space or construct a new building in its place for district use, or it could reuse the building directly for district purposes or have a community group or nonprofit organization aligned with its mission use the building, the memo stated.

Commissioners discussed the various options following a presentation Director of Facilities Angela Ferrentino made at the Sept. 10 meeting regarding the assessment.

"At this point in time, given the estimated $1.7 million cost involved, the potential impact of the district's 2020 plans that call for potential construction of new facilities, it is staff's recommendation that it is not in the community's best interest for the district to consider a capital improvement of this magnitude on a building that is nearly 60 years old, and we would also just recommend to eliminate from consideration the option of redeveloping it for district purposes," Ferrentino said.

Commissioner Tim Sheehan said the district could wait to make the decision as they don't know how much it would cost to build a new building at the site.

"What if building a new building there to work on all that stuff was $3 million? Wouldn't it be in our best interest then to use $1.7 million and then have $1.3 million to go do other things with, like a dog park or turf fields or any of these other things?" Sheehan said. "I'm not suggesting that building a new building isn't the right thing to do, but we only have one part of the equation right now. And so what I'm suggesting is that we don't go make a decision to say we're just going to take this whole realm of possibility off the table."

Board President Vince Spaeth said the board could vet out the other options as a part of doing its "due diligence" in making the decision regarding the building.

He suggested they "passively get with" other entities in Elmhurst to inform them the building is an available space that would probably be demolished unless "a good use" could be found for it.

"Not just to find anybody that can use the building. I don't think we want that either. It's got to be something that adds to the value of the park and the community," Spaeth said.

He said if they cannot find an appropriate use for it, the board can move on with its decision-making.

"The good news is, we have some time," Spaeth said.

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