Northbrook Fourth of July Commission dissolves
Members of the American Legion lead Northbrook's Fourth of July Parade in 2012. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Both the Village and Park District Boards will meet Tuesday to discuss the issue. The Village Board’s Committee of the Whole will meet at 7:30 p.m. in the Terrace Room of Village Hall,
1225 Cedar Lane .
The Park District’s parks and properties committee will meet at 6:45 pm at the Joe Doud Administration Building, 545 Academy Drive.
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:45AM
NORTHBROOK — Without as much as a snap, crackle or pop, Northbrook’s Fourth of July Commission has sizzled out after organizing more than 40 years of family fun for the holiday.
In a letter dated Jan. 23 and addressed to Village President Sandra Frum and Park District President Michael Ziering, Association Chairman Sharon Latek said the Association was no more.
The membership had met that day to determine its future, because the group had recently discovered that it was operating without insurance.
“Research has been done with various insurance brokers and underwriters and the insurance costs are prohibitive, and it is highly unlikely that the Association could even obtain insurance due to its relatively small asset base,” Latek said.
Therefore, the Association members voted 14 to one in favor of dissolving, she added.
The stand-alone, not-for-profit organization has found it increasingly difficult to sustain itself financially and with the manpower necessary to plan and execute the events, said Philip A. Kiraly, assistant village manager.
The Village and Park District have supported the Association financially and with in-kind service for years, he added.
The Association also has conducted fundraising events to cover other costs and relied upon a group of volunteers to offer the 4th of July Parade, fireworks, a pancake breakfast and a variety of other events.
Last year, the Association stated publicly that declining fundraising revenues and a decreasing number of volunteers could jeopardize its ability to plan future 4th of July events.
So last summer, Village and Park District staff began working with Association leaders to develop a long-term strategy.
That’s when it became evident that although there was a dedicated core group of volunteers, there were not as many as needed to continue handling the events.
“One general chairperson declared that she was not interested in participating in that role any longer. The other indicated that she would do so for one additional year, but no one was available to take over for her after that time,” Kiraly said.
So last fall, staff worked with the Association to update and draft bylaws that had been originally developed in 2004 but never approved. However, they were never completed, he added.
“Also, it was determined that at one time when the Village was self-insured it had provided the Association with insurance at no cost,” Kiraly said.
“The Village switched to IRMA for insurance coverage in 2005. We found out that full insurance coverage has not been possible due to the fact that the Association was a separate entity from the Village.”
And although the Association might get its own insurance – at $5,000 to $10,000 per year – just acquiring insurance in itself might be impossible because the Association’s income and assets were too low, Kiraly said.
Even if the Village provided funds to cover the cost of an insurance policy, the Association leaders were concerned that there would be no coverage for individual of personal liability for their Association-related actions, he added.
About $24,000 remains to fund this year’s events, so village and park staff members have been trying to come up with a way to provide a celebration this year.
Neither the Village nor the Park District is staffed to exclusively take over the 4th of July events, especially the fireworks and parade, Kiraly said.
So staff is proposing that 2013 be viewed as “a bridge year,” during which a partnership of Village and Park District staff members work together to present the events.
Based on the shared experience, the staff can make recommendations to their respective Boards as to how to proceed.
“It should also be noted that because Village staff would have direct responsibility over planning and executing these events, the Village’s insurance provider would provide coverage for all events,” Kiraly said.