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This fall marks four years since Oak Park opened its massive $30 million public works center, at 201 South Blvd. But already the village is finding issues with the facility and is considering suing the architect or construction company to recoup the $235,000 it's going to cost to fix it.
With heavy trucks driving in and out of the building, Oak Park expected some wear and tear, just not this soon, according to Public Works Director John Wielebnicki. The village has hired a Northbrook-based consultant to put the facility under a microscope and figure out what needs to be repaired.
Trustees OK'd an $84,575 contract with Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates last month to perform that work. According village documents, WJE believes the first floor of the building is not designed to support three loaded trucks parked next to each other. If such an occurrence was to happen, "the first floor could fail."
Wielebnicki said it's rare to see three trucks lined up in such a manner. But just as a precaution, public works is starting to paint stripes on the floors, install signs and advise supervisors not to bunch trucks together.
"The building is safe. I just want to make sure we're aware of these conditions. Safety is our number-one priority," Wielebnicki said.
When the public works building was under construction in 2005, cracking and chipping was noticed near some of the horizontal concrete beams where they crossed the foundation walls. The village had the contractor and architect fix those problems at that time, but they want to make sure those repairs have held up to the ravages of time, Wielebnicki told Wednesday Journal in June.
Carl Peterson, a principal with WJE, did not return calls seeking comment. But fixes his company has devised include reinforcing some "steel bearing plates" that the contractor put in to keep the first floor from failing, and repairing two layers of the first floor that are separating from each other.
It's still too early to say who, exactly, is responsible for the issues at the public works center. Oak Park is currently having WJE dig through drawings to see if it was an error made by the contractor, Mortenson, or the architect, Holabird & Root. Wielebnicki thinks one or both of the companies might be at fault, while the two companies reportedly believe what's happening is regular wear and tear.
Calls to representatives from Mortenson and Holabird & Root were not returned. Mortenson has been responsive to the village's requests for more information, while Holabird has not, according to officials.
Wielebnicki confirmed that village trustees and staff have privately discussed the possibility of suing one or both of the companies to recoup costs for the $235,000 repairs. Repairs are expected to be completed over the next two years, according to village documents.
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