Fuller's to get higher-grade bollards

Commercial-grade, crash-tested bollards will be installed at Fuller’s Car Wash, according to Hinsdale officials, replacing previously erected protective fixtures that critics argued were insufficient to prevent another collision like the one that claimed the life of 14-year-old Sean Richards last summer.

At Tuesday’s village board meeting, Village President Tom Cauley reported that the manufactured bollards are the kind used at schools, hospitals and other institutions and designed to stop a 5,000-pound vehicle going 40 miles per hour.

Additionally, the bollards will be placed three feet, four inches from the sidewalk, which is more than two feet farther from the sidewalk than their current location.

“It still gives enough turn radius for cars to come out of the car wash,” Cauley said. “The crash data shows that that is sufficiently far enough off the sidewalk” to protect pedestrians.

To expedite the process, the village purchased the bollards for $7,475, reported village manager Kathleen Gargano, an expense that will be reimbursed by Fuller’s.

“As soon as they arrive, Fuller’s is going to dig up their property and put these in,” Cauley explained, detailing a steel-reinforced foundation will be laid, reaching 6 inches deeper than the manufacturer’s recommendation as a precaution. “So I think we’ve solved the bollard issue.”

The move follows months of urging by the Richards family and their supporters that stronger measures be taken to improve safety outside the longstanding Lincoln Street business. The original bollards were installed by Fuller’s shortly after Sean was struck and killed July 17 when a vehicle exiting the car wash accelerated onto the sidewalk where he was walking. The vehicle then proceeded into Fontano’s Subs across Lincoln Street, injuring three patrons.

Fuller’s installed those bollards without going through the proper permitting and review process, and the village has come under fire for what many regard as an inadequate response to the tragedy. Several residents scolded the board Tuesday night for not doing more, citing incidents in years past when cars driven out of the car wash ended up across Lincoln.

Earlier this year the village instructed Fuller’s to decrease the span between the bollards from four feet to two feet based on an engineering report, which was supposed to be done this spring. Resident Bob Sweeney called for concrete barriers to be placed between the car wash exit and the sidewalk until the new bollards are installed.

“Something that shows people something more than just cones,” he said, referring to the warning cones currently there.

Cauley said Hinsdale police have been monitoring the site to make sure cars are parked on the sidewalk after exiting the car wash.

Some have implored the village to shut down the car wash, which operates under a special-use permit. Cauley said that is not a form of legal recourse in this case.

“That is not something the village can do,” he said, noting the business dates back to 1962 and received a special use permit in 1995. “Once you’re granted the zoning ability to use the property for that purpose, the village cannot take away your right to use the property for that purpose, unless you violate the conditions of the special-use permit.”

Tom Cauley conceded that “he should have been on” Fuller’s ownership more vigilantly to get the previously authorized bollards installed, then remarked that he’s glad he wasn’t.

“We now have a better design,” Cauley said. “There has been a delay. I feel bad about the delay, but we’re going to do this as quickly as humanly possible.”

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean