Site remains a sticking point for some in village

By Dave Fidlin


From the get-go, Union Grove’s top elected official has championed the oft-discussed entertainment stage project as an amenity that could provide a new family-friendly venue within the community.

But at a special Village Board meeting this week, Village President Mike Aimone weighed in on some of the concerns that have since been raised about the potential amenity and said he has been surprised by some of the reaction.

“I never knew requesting $100,000 from the county would result in so much controversy,” Aimone said at the meeting, held April 29.

When word came down early this year the village would be the recipient of a $100,000 grant, a number of committees were formed to dig deeper into the proposal, including an examination of where the entertainment stage could be constructed.

Two green spaces — Leider and School Yard parks — have been pinpointed as potential options, based on the committees’ recommendations, but other concerns have since been raised, including potential noise issues.

Although a firm decision has not been made, a preliminary recommendation is leaning toward Leider Park. The village’s Parks and Recreation Committee has backed the proposal — with some continued hesitation.

“What I’m not sold on is where the entertainment stage should be,” said Trustee Ryan Johnson, who sits on the Parks and Recreation Committee. “I looked at this as objectively as I could.”

Regardless of where the stage is constructed — if the plan does proceed — Aimone said he does not believe it will have an adverse impact on the surrounding area.

“The thought was to create family events,” Aimone said. “I don’t know where the idea came that this would be a rock venue. I don’t think the sound you would be hearing is any different than what you’re hearing now.”

At this week’s meeting, several residents inquired if all or a portion of the county’s grant dollars could instead go toward improving some of the existing features at the parks, including playground equipment and accommodations to meet Americans with Disabilities act requirements.

While there was not any dissention the village’s parks could use some added TLC, Aimone and several other board members doubled down on the continued belief the grant funds should directly correlate to the entertainment stage.

“I think we should move forward on this project as it was presented,” Trustee Christopher Gallagher said.

Speaking to allocating funds to improving existing infrastructure, Gallagher said, “That’s not what this grant money was intended for.”

To ensure due diligence, the board withheld making a formal vote at this week’s meeting, opting instead to defer final action to the next regular Village Board meeting on May 13.

In the interim, village staffers will confer with county officials to get a handle on specifics as to what the grant money can go toward.

Village Administrator Mike Hawes said he believed being thoughtful and methodical was the best course of action from his professional standpoint.

“I think the intent of doing it right and getting it right makes the most sense,” Hawes said.