Elgin council backs out of 4th Fest, yet to decide fate of Wing Park pool, business license
By Mike Danahey email@example.com @DanaheyECN December 4, 2013 6:32PM
The fireworks display last July at the Northwest Fourth-Fest in in Hoffman Estates. The Elgin City Council voted Wednesday night to approve a Grand Victoria Casino-sponsored concert and fireworks display in Elgin. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: January 7, 2014 6:21AM
ELGIN — The city of Elgin will not be partnering again this summer with Hoffman Estates on the fireworks for the Northwest Fourth Fest at that village’s Sears Centre.
And the council still has on its plate decisions to make about opening Wing Park pool this summer and keeping its business license program in place.
“We should be able to do something here” to celebrate Independence Day, Councilwoman Tish Powell said at Wednesday night’s city council budget discussions.
Powell — along with fellow council members Terry Gavin, Anna Moeller, John Prigge and Toby Shaw — cast the five “no” votes.
For each of the past two summers, Elgin contributed $15,000 in cash and $5,000 in public safety staff time to the Fourth of July fireworks night at the festival. Hanover Township and the village of Hanover Park also have contributed funds to the event, which had Kia as its major corporate sponsor in 2013.
The Fourth Fest fireworks have drawn crowds in excess of 20,000. Supporters, including Elgin Mayor David Kaptain, have seen the event as a way to promote Elgin, work with neighboring towns, and host a show for a city that doesn’t seem to have a viable place to hold one of its own.
In November, Shaw briefed the council on bringing a show back to Elgin. Shaw said his preliminary research found that Elgin Community College and the Sports Complex were not viable choices, while holding a smaller, 10-minute show downtown would cost about $73,000, including labor from public safety and public works crews. At that time, Shaw suggested the city not do its own display.
Elgin last held its own Fourth fireworks at the Sports Complex on the far-west side in 2008. The complex butts up to the now-completed Highlands Golf Course, which disallows it as a spot for such a show in Elgin. There also frequently were traffic issues when the complex was home to the event.
What Elgin might do for its Fourth fireworks is to be discussed at a future meeting.
City staff in November recommended closing the Wing Park pool for 2014 to make needed repairs. Some council members expressed concerns about such a move.
This past summer, Wing Park pool had major pump trouble and other maintenance issues, which led to closing early for the season. The pool also needs significant renovation and must be made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The work would be paid for through $793,000 in bond funds.
Wednesday night, Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal told the council it might be possible to open the pool by July 1 for a truncated swim season. However, Gavin expressed concern that the work would be weather-dependent, and Kozal noted that the only option that provides certainty would be to close for the entire 2014 season.
Other issues would be how to bring a pool staff for a short season up to speed, with City Manager Sean Stegall mentioning that one way would be to overstaff the Lords Park Pool and The Centre for the first portion of summer.
No decision was made about which approach to take.
Stegall would like the council to decide what to do about the business license program at its final 2013 meeting, on Dec. 18.
The city’s proposed $279,625,890 budget does not factor in implementing the program, which was a point of contention in the 2013 council elections in spring. The program started in January 2010 and first met with organized opposition in the fall of 2011.