Tim Cook sits at the bar of the Brookfield Bowl in his Chicago Cubs coat, calculators and paperwork in front of him, pretty much at a loss.
A week before a deadline handed to him by the village of Brookfield to begin fixing the roof of the building at 3415 Maple Ave., he’s running out of time and answers.
“I want to get it done as fast as possible,” said Cook on March 24, amid the glow of neon signs illuminating the bar.
But that’s going to take more than $100,000. With the business shuttered by the village of Brookfield due failing roof trusses, there’s no way for him to make the money it’s going to take to pay for the repairs.
“Shutting me down is like putting me out of business,” said Cook.
On March 15, Keith Sbiral, the director of Brookfield’s Building and Planning Department sent a letter to Cook condemning the property and giving him 15 days to “complete the required repairs and put the structure in a safe condition” or demolish it.
Today, the village can begin filing papers in the Circuit Court of Cook County to force demolition.
In addition, Cook’s been addressing an ongoing foreclosure suit filed by First National Bank of Brookfield in 2008, and he has been negotiating with a company that bought unpaid taxes on the property that same year.
Cook says he’s trying the best he can to meet the village’s demands.
“They say I’m not doing anything, but that’s not true,” said Cook. “I’ve done things, and I’m fighting with the insurance company.”
What kinds of things has Cook done? Well, he’s installed the exit signs, ground-fault electrical outlets and emergency lighting in the bar area and elsewhere. He fixed a portion of decaying plywood flooring near rear of the building and has cleaned out a service walkway along the north side. He has purchased (but not yet installed) ventilators for the bathrooms.
“As you can see, I’ve done 90 percent of what they wanted except for the truss,” said Cook.
The truss is the reason the building is closed, according to village records. The reason for the condemnation action is because, the village contends, Cook hasn’t begun repairs on them since the problem was first reported last fall.
On Sept. 28, 2010, a 4-foot length of aluminum ceiling tile frame down and hit a Brookfield firefighter in the head during a routine annual fire inspection. Upon closer inspection, firefighters reported that “the rest of the ceiling in that area was sagging and about to fall.”
The village immediately closed the bowling alley while Cook had a firm install emergency shoring for the roof trusses. An engineer’s report revealed that seven of the roof’s trusses had “failed” although Cook states only one truss has failed completely.
Cook was able to re-open the bar portion of the business after the shoring was installed. During that time he tried to make enough money to do the repairs.
But in mid-February with no work started on the truss repair and another engineering study pointing to the building’s unsafe condition, the village shut the bowling alley completely.
“I was starting to cut into [the cost to make the repairs], then they shut the bar down,” Cook said. “Every time they close it, it costs me a fortune.”
Cook also put in an insurance claim, but the insurance company authorized a payout of just $25,000. He hasn’t cashed that check. Instead he’s trying to get the insurance company to come up with more money to do the repairs.
That takes time, he says. Cook insists that the temporary wood shoring holding up the roof is sound and could remain in place indefinitely. If he doesn’t reopen, there’s no way for him to make money, Cook says.
“Do I want it to take six months?” Cook asked. “No. I can’t afford to miss another bowling season.”