The Village of Brookfield may file a lawsuit as early as next week seeking to condemn the building housing the Brookfield Bowl, 3415 Maple Ave.
The bowling alley has been closed since Feb. 18 after village officials received a structural analysis of the building from an engineering firm it hired to do an independent review of the building.
Keith Sbiral, the village’s director of building and planning, said he could not release the report since it was part of a pending legal action, but he said it did not differ substantially from a report commissioned by the building’s owner last fall.
According to Sbiral, the bowling alley’s owner, Tim Cook, agreed to shutter the business after the village received its independent report. The business was open for several months prior, but had ceased functioning as a bowling alley last October, when temporary bracing was installed to keep the roof from collapsing.
Attempts by the Landmark to reach Cook by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful.
The need for temporary shoring was discovered apparently by accident. During a routine annual fire inspection of the building by the Brookfield Fire Department on Sept. 28, 2010, a 4-foot length of the aluminum ceiling tile frame fell down and hit a firefighter on the head and shoulder.
While the firefighter wasn’t injured, his report stated the “crew then noted the rest of the ceiling in that area was sagging and about to fall.”
After a visit from a building inspector, the Brookfield was closed. The bowling alley’s bar reopened after the installation of temporary shoring in October, according to documents obtained by the Landmark through a Freedom of Information request.
That report, completed by S.J. Muschitz Associates, revealed seven failed roof trusses of varying severity. The cost for fixing the roof was estimated at more than $130,000.
The shoring work itself was done by Campbell Truss Inc. and was meant to be a short-term fix. The company expressed alarm in December that the situation had not been remedied by then.
“Three months have gone by and permanent repairs have not yet begun,” wrote Tim Korzen of Campbell Truss Inc. on Dec. 14, 2010. “As such, with additional snow loads and high winds expected this winter season, this letter is our official notice to the village of Brookfield that we, along with the project engineer, recommend the entire building be closed to the public effective immediately.”
Brookfield around the same time drafted a condemnation lawsuit against the bowling alley, but it never went forward. While Sbiral appeared to urge action in e-mails to other officials in December, the lawsuit was stalled on the advice of the village attorney, Richard Ramello.
In a memo to Sbiral dated Dec. 9, 2010, Ramello expressed concern that the village’s building code ordinance, adopted in 2007, may have inadvertently eliminated key provisions, including the position of building inspector and a section on dangerous buildings.
On Feb. 28, the village board briefly discussed re-adopting those provisions of the building code although no mention was made during that discussion of the situation at Brookfield Bowl. The village board is expected to re-adopt the code to include what Ramello believes are the missing provisions at its meeting on March 14.
That action would allow the village to initiate the lawsuit and ease Ramello’s reservations about the building code.
Sbiral said Cook has repeatedly failed to move ahead with promised repairs to the roof of the building.
Brookfield Bowl has been the subject of litigation previously in recent years. In 2008, First National Bank of Brookfield filed a foreclosure suit against Cook and other co-signers on the mortgage. That suit is still active in Cook County Circuit Court, according to court records.
Also in 2008, the Phoenix Bond and Indemnity Co. purchased the unpaid real estate taxes on the building from 2006. And in January 2009, a Cook County judge awarded the Pawnee Leasing Corporation $14,000 plus court costs in a suit related to the bowling alley.
In November and December 2010, the First National Bank of Brookfield, in an attempt to recoup its loss on the mortgage, seized $142,000 from four bank accounts belonging to the family of one of Cook’s co-signers on the Brookfield Bowl mortgage.
That family filed a lawsuit in February attempting regain a portion of those savings.