ELMWOOD PARK — One Elmwood Park Village Board meeting, one board member walkout, one resignation.
During Thursday evening’s monthly board meeting, first board Trustee Lou Berrios walked out, leaving the question hanging in the air of whether he had resigned. Village President Kathy Wells said Friday that Berrios got up and walked out of the board meeting and said, “I’m done.” His name, photo and phone number were deleted from the village website’s Board of Trustees page on Friday morning.
Trustee Brian Bazzett, who has indeed resigned from the board, certainly thought Berrios had quit the board Thursday evening.
“He upstaged me,” Bazzett quipped.
However, late Friday morning Berrios said he had not resigned. He declined to talk further about the situation. By Friday afternoon, his name and photo were back on the village website’s Board of Trustees page.
Bazzett announced his resignation verbally during Thursday’s Village Board meeting and followed up Friday morning with the following email to the Village Board and Plan Commission:
“I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the current interpretation of our village ordinances, with the legal process with which we enforce them, and with the image of the village being portrayed to the public. After consultation with legal counsel, I have determined that I should no longer be associated with the Elmwood Park Village Board and that my best course of action is to resign from my post as trustee, effective noon tomorrow (Saturday).
“I did want to say goodbye in person and not just on email so I announce it here. I thank you all for supporting me in joining the Board and for the opportunity to serve.
“This is the only public comment I will make, but I would be happy to share further my concerns and suggestions with any interested board members or constituents.”
Bazzett, who was first elected in 2016 and re-elected in April, added, “I speak only for myself and not on behalf of the other board member who also resigned (Thursday) night. I will say the two resignations were not orchestrated, and mine was planned well in advance.”
Friday morning Bazzett, a senior IT project manager for Modine Manufacturing, declined to elaborate on his written statement but said it was not one issue that arose Thursday night, but rather events that had occurred over a long period of time.
The Elmwood Park Village Board has a long history of contention and disharmony. The village has a population of about 500.
Newly appointed Village Administrator Chris Jenkins did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.
Dispute with EverGreen Academy
The village has recently been embroiled in a dispute with EverGreen Academy regarding the state of a building the elementary school had leased from the village from 2014-18 at the village’s Taylor complex.
The village, led by Wells, claims the voucher-only school owes the village more than $20,000 to clean up and repair the building at 3131 Taylor Ave., Unit 2, before it can be shown to prospective tenants. At first, EverGreen agreed to pay $10,000 in repairs, but the Village Board rejected the offer.
EverGreen founder Grant Meier had told The Journal Times that the school planned to pay the full request, but school’s attorney later sent a letter to Wells, informing her that EverGreen no longer agrees to pay.