Why Did North Berwyn Park District Lose a $400K Grant to Construct a New Pool at 15th & Maple?

On January 15, 2015, North Berwyn Park District Director Joseph Vallez announced the park district had been awarded a $400,000 Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant from the Illinois Department of National Resources (DNR) and that the funds would be used towards the construction of Mackin Pool at 15th and Maple. 

"The $400,000 Illinois Department of Natural Resources OSLAD grant will be matched with an additional $400,000 from the park district totaling $800,000 for the initial design, site prep and logistical planning for a new pool at Kriz Park, 15th and Maple... The construction of Mackin Pool, a $3.5 million dollar aquatic facility will have a zero depth pool, an 8 lane competition pool and a plunge pool with water slides. The facility will have locker rooms and a concession facility. Completion Date/Opening To Be Announced"
The pool was to replace the former Maple Pool, which has been shut down for over a decade.

However, the project was never completed. Emails received via a 2021 FOIA request (see bottom of post) to the North Berwyn Park District reveal:

NPBD received $200,507, half of the funds, in September of 2016.

In August 2016, the IL Department of National Resources mailed a letter to NBPD stating that IDNR would process a 50% upfront payment. NBPD received the check one month later. The passage of Public Act 99-0524 made the disbursement possible; former Governor Rauner had suspended OSLAD grants for the fiscal year 2016.

No progress was made on the project.

From April 2016 through February 2018, North Berwyn Park District submitted Development Project Status Reports to the funder. All reports showed:

  • the status never moved past “Design Stage”
  • necessary permits were never secured

NPBD was forced to return the $200K it received.

“The Department is in receipt of your reimbursement check #23018 in the amount of $200,507.74.”

NPBD was debarred from applying for OGMA grants for two grant cycles.

“By failing to carry-out the requirements of the agreement, you violated the terms of the agreement. The North Berwyn Park District is debarred from applying from all Grant Programs administered by the Office of Grant Management and Assistance (OGMA) for two grant cycles. Debarment will be effective July 5, 2018.”

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