Thursday night at its regular board meeting, the Park District of Oak Park Board of Commissioners approved renovations to the World War I memorial in Scoville Park. The selected firm, Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio (CSOS) of Forest Park, will begin work some time after July 4.

The $320,000 cost estimate includes a base $240,600 expense, with an additional $79,400 for expenses stemming from unforeseen conditions. At the April 10 Committee of the Whole meeting CSOS’s owner, Andrzej Dajnowski, told commissioners his firm’s original $292,400 bid figure represented a “worst-case scenario.” With the restoration of such monuments, he explained, there can often be “many hidden elements” in the work, particularly involving the resetting of stairs and large granite blocks.

A 2006 engineering study found parts of the monument had become unstable, and that stairs had moved out of place, creating trip hazards. A full assessment of the condition of the granite stairs, Dajnowski said, is not possible until dismantling of the monument is underway.

Park district staff said they were impressed with Dajnowski’s depth of knowledge related to monument restoration. Dajnowski, who has worked extensively with the Chicago Park District, including work on Buckingham Fountain, is considered a conservation expert, with a national reputation.

Officials said the Scoville monument is particularly important to Oak Park.

“It’s one of the most well known landmarks we have,” said park board President Mark Gartland. “It’s an important piece of Oak Park history, not just for the village, but for the families of those who served, some of whom still live here.”

Executive Director Gary Balling called the monument “extremely special,” but also noted that the granite and bronze structure had not been properly maintained for “40 or 50 years.” He said that neglect will not continue.

“Once this is done, we want to make sure it’s maintained properly,” Balling said, noting there are several key components of the restoration, including:

1. Corrosion testing of bronze figures and plaques.

2. Removal of plaques to assess the underlying physical condition of granite base blocks.

3. Removal and resetting of granite stairs.

4. Removal and resetting of the monument’s large granite base blocks (considered the most critical, as the structural stability of the entire monument hinges on it).

5. Barring major corrosion, the bronze figures and plaques will be refurbished and reset.

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