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By Devin Rose
Architects behind the renovation of Ridgeland Common presented their final cost estimate last week, and the park board agreed they should move forward with developing construction documents.
Four Park District of Oak Park board members voted Thursday night to approve Nagle Hartray proceeding with the document development phase. According to a schedule in their presentation at the meeting, architects plan to prepare requests for contractor qualifications (RFQs) next month.
They will advertise and distribute RFQs in October and receive bids by January 2013. Construction is scheduled to start March 18. The cost estimate after the design development phase came in at $23.2 million, though alternate improvements, like a $3.7 million synthetic turf field, could increase that.
Meanwhile, park district staff will work with other entities as they put together a transition plan for programs while Ridgeland Common is closed. Since this is being worked out long before the relocated programs would start up, Executive Director Jan Arnold said none of the groups have been able to firm up their availability because they don't know their schedules yet.
"We're asking people in some cases a year and a half in advance," she said.
The pool will close in a few weeks and won't reopen next year. The ice rink will close after the annual ice show in March and will reopen in the fall of 2014, Arnold said. Letters were sent out in the last couple of weeks to parents of kids in the travel hockey league to keep them updated on the project. Arnold said they want to remind parents that they're looking for ways to keep as many teams together as possible.
Jenny Berni, the park district's aquatic and rink services manager, is leading the transition plan. She said their group is collecting information right now. Oak Park and River Forest High School and Fenwick High School are among the other entities the park district has reached out to, she said. They've also started doing inventory on their remaining field space.
David Kindler, a former park board president who plays hockey in the park district's adult league, said he and other program participants will have to be flexible as they try to find ice rental somewhere else. He suggested Franklin Park or an outdoor rink in Cicero for the league to hold its games, but no plans have yet been made.
Ice is limited around this region and most rinks have in-house teams and figure-skating programs of their own, so it will be difficult to find space, Kindler said. Participants will have to be patient and understand that the expanded ice rink and improved pool plumbing will be higher quality in the end.
Arnold said the transition plan should be set by the end of the summer.