A new downtown: Village officials hope planners can knock down the cost of streetscape improvements prior to construction in 2019. | Photo provided by Thomas Engineering Group and The Lakota Group

Oak Park got an update at the Feb. 5 village board meeting on a multi-million project to overhaul streets and sidewalks along Lake Street and replace old sewer and water lines.

The project, which would launch in spring of 2019 and be complete by fall of 2020, is projected to cost approximately $18.8 million, about $15.8 million of which would be paid for by the village and the remainder by a federal transportation grant.

Planners gave an overview of the project, which is being headed by Thomas Engineering Group and The Lakota Group, showing that deteriorated sidewalks, brick pavers and roadway would be replaced, and sidewalk clutter like unnecessary signs and other obsolete sidewalk furniture will be removed.

The road resurfacing project will run the full length of Lake Street, from Harlem Avenue to Austin Boulevard; the streetscape improvements will run from Harlem Avenue to Euclid Avenue.

Planners told trustees on Feb. 5 that the replacement of water and sewer utilities will cost roughly $1.3 million, and the pavement resurfacing will run approximately $1.4 million.

Steve Pasinski, planning and design department head for Thomas Engineering Group, said the village also has applied for a $3 million transportation enhancement grant with the Illinois Department of Transportation, but Oak Park won’t know if it will receive that grant until spring 2018.

Kevin Clark, director of design for Lakota Group, told trustees that his firm has worked over the last three years with the village’s steering committee to craft a plan for the streetscape overhaul.

He said the proposal includes red-brick intersections in the downtown area and some use of bluestone to match the material used on and around Marion Street.

The proposal also includes a water feature near the intersection of Lake and Forest that also would serve as a seating area during the winter.

Trustees will take up the issue again at its board meeting set for Feb. 26, but they already are asking for options to reduce the project’s price tag.

Trustee Deno Andrews said the bluestone used on Marion Street was expensive and already is starting to crack. 

“They’re already moving and uneven,” he said.

Trustee Bob Tucker said the board should consider the future of brick-and-mortar stores, emphasizing the importance of creating a sense of place to attract visitors. 

“I think that’s crucial,” he said.

Trustees directed village staff and planners to return later this month with some alternatives to materials to give them an opportunity to potentially reduce the cost.

* This story was updated to correct the amount of the transportation grant available for the project.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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