Demolition planned for Lyons landmarks
Old village hall and recreation center will soon meet wrecking ball
By Steve Metsch
Two Lyons landmarks — one that has stood on Ogden Avenue for more than a century, and another in the heart of a residential neighborhood — will soon meet the wrecking ball.
The Lyons Village Board has approved a contract with a Markham company for the demolition of the old village hall, 7801 Ogden Ave., and the former recreation hall, 4142 Gage Ave.
Lyons will pay KLF Enterprises Inc., no more than $113,622 to demolish both buildings. That’s much less than anticipated, Mayor Christopher Getty said at the Aug. 22 board meeting.
It will be paid for as part of the $5 million general obligation bond package approved by the board for this and other infrastructure needs, including impacting fill at the old quarry.
“We had estimates in the $200,000 to $400,000 range. We’re going to take advantage of this,” Getty said. “The price includes mold and asbestos remediation, and the demolition and removal of all debris for both buildings. We were blown away.”
Village Trustee Teresa Echeverria agreed: “I think that’s a great deal for two (demolitions).”
The village hall was built in 1900 and has not been occupied since the new village hall was built in 2009. The formerly hall is in disrepair.
The old Mary Ann Powers-Davidowski Recreation Hall on Gage Avenue, named for the former recreation director, was formerly known as the Tiger Hall. It’s been used as a polling place and to store supplies since the community room opened at the new village hall.
“We believe we’ll be able to turn around and sell that to a homebuilder quickly. The village hall, put that in a good position for future economic development,” Getty said.
The old village hall still “holds a lot of memories for some people,” Getty said.
Dawn Paganelli, who owns the Waterworks Pizzeria & Tavern next door, had mixed feelings.
“I’m sad to see the building go because it is old and historical. But, ultimately, it’s a good thing. I’m sure it costs a great deal of money to keep up on the maintenance, especially since it’s not being utilized,” she said.
Former Lyons Mayor Marie Vachata said Monday she’d prefer the old village hall remain standing, but admitted it had seen better days.
She recalled in 2004 voters approved a referendum for a $4 million plan to renovate the building and build a new police station next door. But she lost her re-election bid in 2005 and the plan was not realized.
Vachata, 77, fondly recalls attending Christmas parties there when she was a child, later taking her own children. “We had our board meetings on the stage. It was very nice,” she said.
It wasn’t perfect. She shared an office with village clerk Ed Metz, whose phone was in a bathroom, she said with a laugh.
But she smiled when she recalled how trustees and members of the women’s club, which met the same night in the hall, would gather afterwards at the long-gone Alphi’s steakhouse across the street for libations.
“I’d love to see the Lyons Historical Society on the second floor of the old village hall. That would be the perfect location,” she said.
Nadine Pankow, who heads the Lyons Historical Society, agreed, saying that the old village hall “with the woodwork and the stage on the top floor.” would have been an ideal site for the group’s collection.
The historical society had been in Hoffman Tower, but is no longer allowed inside for safety concerns, according to the state.
“It’s a shame they’ll demolish the village hall because it’s part of the village. That type of stone was mined around here,” Pankow said.
The recreation hall on Gage originally was Sokol Hall. Sokol is a fraternal organization for people of Slovak or Polish descent, which now uses the St. Hugh School gymnasium.
The Tiger Hall was host to many events over the years, like parties, wedding receptions and even concerts by polka and rock bands. “They had a bar there. You could rent it. But they were also civic-minded. They had cartoons for the kids, teen dances, all kinds of stuff,” Vachata said.
In 1973, the Tiger Hall was donated to the village.Heidi and Joe Fiorentino have resided 16 years in a house beside the rec center’s parking lot. They and some neighbors park their vehicles in the lot, which Joe had partially blacktopped this summer. He quit when he heard from a postal carrier that demolition was imminent.
Joe Fiorentino, a Cook County Sheriff’s deputy, is okay with new houses, which may increase his home’s value.
Joe, who took it upon himself to paint the white trim on the frame building, said, “This building will come down like nothing. The village hall? That’s real brick.”
Demolition is expected a few weeks after a Cook County permit is issues, officials said.
— Desplaines Valley News