Oak Brook doesn’t need to regulate cemeteries
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:18AM
Last week’s Oak Brook Village Board meeting showcased everything that is right and wrong with the community.
On the positive side, dozens of colleagues, residents and family members gathered to congratulate and celebrate with Lt. Jason Cates as the 20-year Police Department veteran was promoted to deputy chief.
After a time-out to enjoy refreshments, the meeting - and the embarrassment - began.
After the village’s first public acknowledgement of former Police Chief Tom Sheahan’s pension costs, the discussion turned to home values versus the resting place of a mother taken too soon.
At past village meetings, Adams Road neighbors of Bronswood Cemetery have publicly voiced their displeasure that a mausoleum was built within the cemetery’s boundaries so close to the road.
Cari Kremer and her husband, Doug, who live across the street from the mausoleum, have been the most vocal critics of the memorial. Cari has called the structure “a monstrosity,” on numerous occasions and said it has “devalued,” their property.
Inside the mausoleum lies 34 year-old Tara Feldman Alamilla, who on April 10, 2010, was strangled to death by her husband, Ian Alamilla, in her Westmont home while the couple’s three children slept. Tara had filed for divorce from Ian a month earlier.
Tara’s father, Oak Brook resident Alan Feldman, built the mausoleum and has surrounded it with arborvitaes designed to shield it from view of the road and homes. That wasn’t good enough for some residents.
Now Feldman, just more than three months after his former son-in-law was sentenced to 25 years in prison for Tara’s murder, has agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for more plants to beautify the street, cover his daughter’s resting place and attempt again to appease the residents.
“(Feldman’s) going to spend another $200,000 to do that?” Doug Kremer said. “You don’t think it would be cheaper to move that (mausoleum)? Seriously?”
Bronswood Cemetery was established in the late 1800s and was annexed into Oak Brook in 1962. Oak Brook has never regulated cemeteries as they fall under state jurisdiction. But now debate has turned to whether Oak Brook officials should be in charge of the sites.
Village Trustee Mark Moy noted Bronswood only has two plots left capable of housing a mausoleum and they are “nowhere near a fence,” while the other cemeteries in the village cannot hold a mausoleum. Regulating a cemetery could open the village up to litigation; and regulation would only increase expenses.
“Mr. Feldman did nothing illegal,” Moy said. “He did not deserve to be treated in this manner.”
Additionally Moy and Trustee Mike Manzo noted Bronswood is regulated by its own cemetery board and executive director, and faces regulations from the state.
“I think it’s disgraceful what has happened,” Manzo said of the fire Feldman has come under from residents. “(This) is not one of our finer moments in Oak Brook.”
Last week’s Village Board meeting fell on the two-year anniversary of Tara’s death; and the motion to allow the Zoning Board to hold a public hearing on the village regulating cemeteries within its boundaries was postponed until the board’s next meeting for trustees to further study the issue. This is not a duty the village needs to add to its list.
Homeowners on Adams Road can continue to beg for sympathy for their “pain” of living next to a mausoleum located within the cemetery’s gates.
But the real sympathy should be directed at the Feldman family for having to go through this.