project that serves city is being investigated
By John Huston
Pioneer Press Online
Melrose Park officials say they will comply with a Cook
County state's attorney's investigation into the $42 million
water project that was completed in 2001.
According to published reports, 22 subpoenas have been
issued to village officials and others involved with the
project to increase Melrose Park's capacity to sell water
to seven surrounding towns, including unincorporated Leyden
Township and Northlake.
In August 1998, Melrose Park issued $42 million in bonds
to finance the infrastructure improvements in order to
upgrade its water-distribution system used to supply other
area suburbs with Lake Michigan water.
The state's attorney's office would not comment on the
investigation. But Melrose Park spokesman Gary Mack said
the village is looking forward to any investigation in
hopes of dispelling any rumors of wrongdoing.
"The village is very comfortable with everything
that is in the water project, but we'll fully cooperate
with everything that is asked," Mack said. "The
village welcomes the investigation of the water project."
He also pointed to a recently released audit by Nykiel
Carlin and Co. "This audit shows the project was
well-managed and well-run and came in under budget,"
He also said the investigation is aimed solely at the
water project, and that the state's attorney's subpoenas
were "in connection with records. To the best of
our knowledge, there is no one in Melrose Park who is
a subject in this investigation."
One key player in the water project was Anthony Bruno,
president of Illinois Development Services Corp., who
was hired as a project consultant.
Bruno was unavailable for comment, but his spokeswoman,
Barb Lazarus, said she was unsure if Bruno is part of
"He is aware there is an investigation going on,"
"He welcomes the investigation. As far as he knows,
everything went according to plan and everything is running
She, like Mack, referred to the Nykiel Carlin audit that
showed the water project came in under budget. "This
was a very large project," Lazarus said. "It's
amazing, because when people see a project of this magnitude
they assume there has to be some shenanigans."
One person who has continually questioned the water project
is former Melrose Park Trustee Fred Lamb, who had conflicts
with Mayor Ron Serpico over the issue.
"We never knew the full scope with what was going
on there," Lamb said. "That is why I left the
"My thought was that the trustees would be on board
for what was going on and there would be discussion, but
(Serpico) just handed out his policies and expected a
By August 2001, the Melrose Park Village Board had approved
$2.45 million in additional funds for the project under
"There was some scope added," said Vince Ziolkowski,
project manager for the water project and president of
VCA Development Services. "When you add scope to
a project, we don't consider it an (errors and omission)
The original contract allotted up to a 10-percent contingency
for change orders, which was followed, Ziolkowski said.