Consultant needs more time to check out Holley Court garage in Oak Park

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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

Five months hasn't been enough time to determine what's wrong with the cracking and crumbling public garage at Harlem and Ontario in Oak Park, according to the expert the village hired last year. The village board agreed on Monday, quadrupling the consultant's original contract.

Back in September, the village discovered cracks forming in the upper floors of the west wing of Holley Court garage, a 2006 extension that was part of the Whiteco apartment-complex development. Oak Park hired the engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates to take a closer look at the million-dollar structure at a cost of $13,400.

But the assessment proved to be more complicated than originally thought, and the firm came back to the village in November, asking for another $25,000. Trustees approved a second change to the agreement on Monday, with no discussion, bringing the contract total to $53,400.

Calls to the consultant Monday were not returned immediately. But according to Cara Pavlicek, interim parking manager for Oak Park, the village is taking the problem seriously. When concrete starts cracking, water can seep in, freeze, and then cause the garage to crumble further, she said.

"This is a relatively young facility," she said. "That's why I think it's pretty important that we know what's going on and why we're seeing these cracks at this point in time."

Holley Court garage was first built in 1984. It's been expanded several times to reach its current capacity of 1,213 spaces, including the west expansion, which was built in 2006 at a cost of about $13.4 million.

Paying $50,000 to look closer at the cracks is small potatoes when you're talking about a garage that cost more than $20 million to build, Pavlicek said.

In the meantime, 72 spaces in the garage have been shut down to make way for the assessment. The engineering firm has not yet been able to determine whether it was a design error that led to the "severe cracking" in the garage, according to a letter to the village last month.

The consultant eventually plans to offer designs for strengthening and repairing the garage, work that will cost more than the $53,400 contract, according to their letter. Pavlicek hopes Oak Park can address any problems quickly.

"At this point in time, we want to be expeditious about doing this," she said. "Yes, the clock has been ticking since September, but it's been a hard issue to get our hands around."

Reader Comments

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CTT from op  

Posted: January 28th, 2011 10:15 AM

With $10 or $15 K from the DC based gay group and another $50K from developers salivating over the tax and spend VMA, no wonder a brilliant slate headed by Schwab lost. This town is as corrupt as any in Cook but the same guys control everything -- including the commissions and the WJ -- so nothing is revealed.

OP Resident  

Posted: January 28th, 2011 1:29 AM

Right you are, James. Gary Schwab did not win the election but it seems like the taxpayers of Oak Park also lost. Do you think we are witnessing good government in action? The trustees hide the TIF books from the public, violate the principles of Open Meetings & spend millions on Downtown Oak Park while ignoring our crumbling streets, alleys, sidewalks and curbs. Voters make bad decisions and elect politicians like Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Don Harmon, Rand Paul, Jan Brewer and David Pope.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: January 27th, 2011 8:52 PM

James - So - winners are always right? Even when their winning was funded substantially by people looking to make a quick buck? I guess this makes all our moral decisions and determinations of truth easy. We just have to accept whatever the rich and powerful say. Gee, we might have been doing that for a while. How's it working out? Try not picking on my age, my looks, or my clothes and rebutting my arguments with facts, if only for the novelty.

James  

Posted: January 27th, 2011 7:45 PM

LOL, Gary YOU LOST! Give it up! He creamed you by double the votes and statistics would tell you whatever % of the 32,000 left would have voted along the same margin. I know at your age an ego is hard to reign back, but it's over Gary. You lost, by a lot. Save yourself further embarrassment and move on.

lol  

Posted: January 27th, 2011 3:58 PM

Jeez, tough crowd, eh Mr. President? He isn't gonna come over and play anymore if you guys keep picking on him like this!!! I think they are doing great. I'll send a blank check over to Village Hall right away!!!

David Barsotti from Oak Park  

Posted: January 27th, 2011 3:46 PM

David Pope claims that the Village Board wants to act based on facts. Sadly, if the consultants don't provide facts that the Village Board wants to hear, the findings of the consultant's reports are either ignored or the Board goes out to get another consultant to provide them the reports that support their goals and views. The downtown master plan and the engineer report for the Lake and Forest garage are two such reports. I know there are more, but there is not enough space in this forum.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: January 27th, 2011 3:27 PM

David - You accuse us of acting upon (presumably questionable) assumptions. You assume the people who didn't vote agree with you. You also assume your board's vision of Oak Park as a place full of expensive condos, "upscale" (exclusive) shops & restaurants, and minus annoying people who aren't "upscale" is one your constituents share. Who'd have thought there were two Popes who believed they were infallible.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: January 27th, 2011 3:20 PM

David - (If that's really you) saying that all reason, virtue, and "genuine understanding" are on your side while dismissing everyone else as self-serving whiners is no real argument at all. As for "those we've all collectively elected," you got 4,000 votes, I got 2,000 votes, and 32,000 registered voters stayed home. I guess you presume you and your colleagues represent those 32,000 because they haven't said otherwise. Maybe some of those people have given up on government participation here.

OP Resident  

Posted: January 27th, 2011 1:03 PM

President Pope, please reassure the community that we are not being playing like rubes by the consultants and developers who come to our town selling snake oil and miracle cures. Why do you believe that most residents would rather see more tax dollars siphoned off for Downtown Oak Park than our neighborhoods? Oak Park streets, alleys,sidewalks and curbs are in dismal condition. When can we expect this issue to be addressed? By the way, welcome to the forum. Your participation is long overdue.

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: January 26th, 2011 5:28 PM

Our community is better served from fact-based discussions, rather than transparently political attempts to impugn the integrity, capability, and motivations of those we've all collectively elected to represent the interests and future of our entire community. The current Village Trustees, like any responsible person, prefer to act based upon genuine understanding, rather than assumptions, or fly by night conspiracy theories. I believe the strong majority of our residents expect nothing less.

OP Resident  

Posted: January 26th, 2011 4:25 PM

Dear Brownwyn, There is NO SUCH thing as FREE Parking anywhere. Someone is paying dearly. Its not hard to figure out that someone needs to pay for these structures. Hey, go to the loop and pay $5 for 1 Hr!!!!!!

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: January 26th, 2011 1:18 PM

A Condition Assessment Report for the Lake & Forest Garage was prepared in 2002 for the village by Desman Associates, who found deterioration to structural members and concrete topping caused by lack of protective surface treatments (i.e. lack of preventive maintenance). Of the 3 options evaluated from a life cycle standpoint, including garage replacement, Desman recommended repair of the existing structure to extend the garage service life beyond a 10-15 year time period at a cost of $1M.

j.oak park  

Posted: January 26th, 2011 11:28 AM

Dear Bronwyn, please don't try and confuse us with logic and reasoning... It won't work! Your stories of mythical free and well designed parking are fanciful at best. Your stories simply can't be true or our beloved VMA controlled village board would have told us about them. Now let me go and wedge my car into a too small spot, pay a high fee for short term parking only to return to find additional scratches encircling my car's paint.

Steve from OP from Oak Park  

Posted: January 26th, 2011 11:26 AM

This is just another example of how OP Village government is incompetent at best and more likely just corrupt and in the hands of corrupt developers. **NEXT election cycle I will do my best to vote them all out regardless of who their opponents are*** To date I have voted for Pope and the current board members, but no more. In this recession/depression they have proved that both them and the schools don't get that people are really struggling.

Bronwyn Soell from Countryside   

Posted: January 26th, 2011 11:12 AM

I hate Holly Court parking lot and try to avoid parking there. If we are serious about attracting both local shoppers to local businesses AND attracting tourism and out of towners to local attractions- think about what kind of first impression Oak Park's decrepit, poorly designed parking garages make on people trying desperately to find ANYWHERE they can park their cars while they shop or take a tour? Check out the LaGrange indoor parking lot- all FREE and spacious with well lit stairwells.

Howard  

Posted: January 26th, 2011 10:55 AM

Gary, The Forest Garage has serious structural problems. It was patched 7 years ago to last another 10 until it could be rebuilt.

OPRF  

Posted: January 26th, 2011 6:55 AM

Only the start! There are serious problems, and the Developer NEEDs to be held liable. If after 5 months, they need more time - shows the problems are VERY serious.

Gary Schwab from Oak Park  

Posted: January 25th, 2011 11:35 PM

Please note that the Village would really like to demolish the Lake-Forest garage (which doesn't have structural problems) to lock us into the Sertus deal (or whatever that deal becomes)while the new Whiteco garage is the one with serious structural problems after a few years. Should we be careful walking under the Whiteco tower? Also, whatever happened to the Village's suit against the "1120 Club" developer for non-compliance with their redevelopment agreement?

Enough Already  

Posted: January 25th, 2011 9:45 PM

Whiteco managed the construction expansion for the garage. Shouldn't Whiteco should be paying these consultants to find out where they cut corners.

Steve Heller from Oak Park  

Posted: January 25th, 2011 7:43 PM

So, which Village Trustee or senior staff member is this consultant connected to?

Bill Sullivan  

Posted: January 25th, 2011 7:34 PM

So, there aren't any architects or structural engineers based in Oak Park who could have just as easily done the work? I think it is time Oak Park starts emphasizing giving business to local firms. With all of the professional monies being doled out, it is a shame that local businesses tend not to benefit from local tax dollars.

Paul Landerman from Oak Park  

Posted: January 25th, 2011 7:31 PM

What a surprise. The consulting firm comes back after 5 months and says we need more money. It would be nice if Marty dug a little further to see if he could find what was agreed to in the initial contract. It took 5 months to figure out that "the assessment proved to be more complicated than originally thought"?

Jon Donohue  

Posted: January 25th, 2011 4:28 PM

I will tell you what is wrong...shoddy construction, period. The garage is crumbing where the expansion occurred. Now the Village can write me a check for $10,000 to help me pay for my ever increasing property taxes. My suggestion, they should go back to the construction firm and the engineering firm. That advice cost another $2,000.

OP Resident  

Posted: January 25th, 2011 4:22 PM

"Consultant" is not to be used to describe this expenditure. The Village Board decided in 2010 that all payments of this type are to be referred to as "External Support". The trustees got tired of being questioned about consulting contracts. Pretty slick,huh? Didn't the Wednesday Journal get the message? Check with Ray Johnson. He'll set you straight. Millions of our tax dollars will still be spent on these deals and no-bid contracts. Only the name has changed. The game remains the same.

OPer  

Posted: January 25th, 2011 4:10 PM

I'll tell you what's wrong, without charging the Village a dime. What's wrong is that the corrupt Village Board let a corrupt developer build the expansion.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: January 25th, 2011 4:08 PM

I suppose we are going to see alot more parking tickets, now that we have to pay more to yet another consultant.

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