Last night, the Clarendon Hills Park Board decided not to go ahead with a request from
the Clarendon Hills Historical Society to place a referendum question on the ballot for a
museum tax that would help the Society finish Heritage Hall within the next two years.
Heritage Hall is to be a museum, archives and office for the Society, as well as a meeting
space for 30-40 people available for community groups and the park district use. The
museum tax would have raised about $45,000 dollars a year and allow the renovations to
be completed within a two year time period. The tax would equate to about $25 dollars a
year for most residents.
Diane Hiller, President of the Society and former village president, Chuck Brand, Director
of Heritage Hall and John Steeves, Former Park Board President made a presentation and
request to the board over two consecutive meetings. In the presentations, the Society
stressed that the location of 50 Sheridan is a suitable location that the Society has resided
at since 2005. This site is preferred due to available parking and less congestion. The
Society already has in place a 99- year lease on the building with the Village of Clarendon
Hiller called this another setback for the Society, which just experienced an arson fire at
Heritage Hall. The Society held insurance on the contents of the building, as per the lease,
but the Village of Clarendon Hills who owns and insures the building structure, as per the
lease, raised their deductible for the village buildings from $2500 to $25,000 dollars.
Because of this, they have asked the Society to pay half the cost of their insurance
deductible or half the cost of the work. “We are disappointed by their decision because it
means we would have to take the money we raised for improvements we so desperately
need, to pay for the village’s deductible.” She said. The estimates to clean the structure
came in at $25,000 dollars. The Society would have to pay half of that figure and hopes to
try and get that amount lower.
Diane Hiller said, “For years, the Society has worked out of library shelves, back rooms,
borrowed rooms and people’s basements. We can’t move forward without a completed
space to house ourselves, our records, archives and artifacts, it’s as simple as that. We
wanted to at least be allowed to ask the question to the community. The Society and its
volunteers work many, many hours for the community to be able to preserve, exhibit and
present the history of this wonderful town.”
“The community, I believe does care. I talk with people all the time who are really excited
about what we are trying to do with Heritage Hall. We have grown our memberships to
over 150 families.”
“I feel that the boards, on the other hand don’t believe we have enough support in the
community and don’t see the vision of a completed up and running museum and meeting
space. We are looking for a community wide rallying of support to get this space finished
soon or we risk losing the progress we made and probably the volunteers.” Hiller noted.
When asked what is next for the Society, Hiller said “It looks like we are back to private
fundraising; our goals have not changed, to complete the space for the benefit of the
community within two years.
To help contact: Diane Hiller