Price tag for new Public Works center could reach $30M

• Village receives a $100,000 grant to

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By KATHARINE GRAYSON

If the village pursues construction of the priciest of conceptual plans for a new South Boulevard public works facilityâ€"which would carry the benefit of allowing road salt to be delivered and stored undergroundâ€"the price tag of the project may ultimately reach $30 million, as much as Oak Park's new public library.

Three preliminary plans were presented to the village board by consultants Holabird and Root on Monday. Options ranged from upgrading existing facilities at 121-131 South Boulevard and constructing an addition to the Pumping Station across railroad embankment at 129 Lake St., to abandoning use of the Lake Street site in favor of building a new comprehensive-use Public Works Center entirely on South Boulevard.

The cost of simply constructing a new project ranged from $16 to $21 million. But those estimates do not include expenses such as environmental remediation of the site and engineering drawings.

At the end of Monday's meeting, President Joanne Trapani said it is possible that the total cost of the project would be between $29-30 million, and encouraged staff to be "cognizant" of how rising interest rates would affect the village's ability to issue bonds to pay for the project. 

Currently, the village has only issued a $1 million bond to fund drafting plans for the project, but has not set aside any additional funds for construction. However, Village Manager Carl Swenson also noted the village will receive money from its insurer to cover damages suffered as a result of a July 31 fire that destroyed the Public Works garage. And due to efficiencies created by construction of a new facility, the village will likely save a substantial amount of money on future operation costs.

According to a presentation by consultants, it appears likely that the price tag would only climb as high as $30 million if the village were to pursue the most expensive draft option, which calls for construction of an underground level in an entirely new center on South Boulevard. The majority of the building would be no taller than 20 feet, except for a small taller space for administrative offices and meeting rooms.

That option would also allow the village to have salt delivered and stored in an enclosed, underground location at the east side of the site. All other plans contemplated continuing to store salt at the southern portion of the parcel closest to the Lombard Avenue cul-de-sac.

The ability to store salt underground, and limit the noise impact of salt delivery on neighbors, was one aspect of option three that several trustees indicated would be appealing.

There were some concerns, however, expressed by Trustees Diana Carpenter and Galen Gockel regarding having employees working in an underground location with little light.

The least expensive option, consultants said, would require that all existing structuresâ€"other than a parts buildingâ€"at the South Boulevard site be upgraded and remain standing. A new enclosed two-story vehicle storage garage would be built to replace the structure that was destroyed by fire.

That plan is closest to what was originally contemplated when consultants first considered renovations to public works facilities in a space study of all village buildings. At that time, the price tag of that option was projected to be $7.5 million.

As part of option two, all structuresâ€"including the fueling station at the north end of the siteâ€"would be demolished. A new vehicle storage garage would be constructed, creating room for administrative offices on the second floor. That option would provide additional outdoor roof-top parking on the second level.

In both the first two options, the Pumping Station on Lake Street adjacent to Stevenson Parkâ€"an original Cicero Township Fire Stationâ€"would be renovated, and a new vehicle garage addition would be constructed to the east. The expansion would make room for re-location of the engineering department from Village Hall to the station's second floor, and create new space for a TV studio that would serve the village's public access station, VOP-6.

All options would call for adding a grass parkway and cross walks, trees, moving sidewalks farther from buildings, and reducing the number of building entry and exit drives.

A 'green' building in the works

Any building that would be constructed at the site, however, will incorporate environmentally friendly technology. With the assistance of Environment and Energy Commission member Gary Cuneen, who is also executive director of the local organization Seven Generations Ahead, the village received a $100,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation that would call for the new construction to incorporate "green building" principles.

A new facility would have to reduce energy use by 20 percent below what would normally be consumed. A variety of measures, ranging from installing solar panels to incorporating green roofs, could be used to meet sustainable design standards.

In order to meet requirements included in the grant, an additional public meeting dedicated specifically to seeking input on environmentally friendly aspects of the project will also have to be held.

The concepts are still preliminary, emphasized Holabird and Root representatives, who added that it is possible that a final proposed plan may incorporate elements of all three concepts. The consultant has scheduled a tentative Dec. 16 date to meet with neighbors of the site.

Some of the neighbors have requested that the village consider relocating the public works center, though village board members and staff continued to state Monday that a move was not an option.

The current draft timeline for the project estimates that ground would be broken in the summer of 2005 and construction would wrap up in late fall of 2006. If the village pursues improvements to the Pumping Station, that work would break ground in June of next year, and open the following spring.

Contact: kgrayson@wjinc.com

 

 

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