Oak Park Township staff thought they might be out of their offices at 105 S. Oak Park Ave. for about a week after heavy rains caused the building to flood in early May.

But the discovery of asbestos in the building has inflated the cost to fix the building, making the structure uninhabitable for most of the summer, according to officials.

Township Manager Gavin Morgan said the removal of drywall and carpeting and drying out other areas of the building has already cost about $100,000. 

He said the cost of removing asbestos and reconstruction in the building is still uncertain, but he believes it will come in below the township’s insurance coverage limit of $250,000. 

“We’re confident it will be less than that, but we still don’t know exactly what it’s going to be,” Morgan said.

He said the township is taking multiple bids on the two aspects of the reconstruction.

Township Supervisor Clarmarie Keenan gave tours of the building last week to show the public how the project is proceeding. 

“I feel the community has the right to see this – it’s their money,” she said.

She said the township is housing much of its staff at an empty storefront at 139 S. Oak Park Ave. for the next few months – that space is owned by individuals associated with Wednesday Journal Inc. – and at township offices across the street.

Keenan said that aside from the first few days after the flood there’s been no disruption of services. 

The flooding was the result of a clogged sewer line. When it was first reported on May 8, it was unknown whether the sewer line was clogged underneath the township property or in the public way, which would be the responsibility of the village of Oak Park.

It has since been learned that the clog was seven inches west of the public way, meaning the cost is the responsibility of the township.

Keenan said the township is working to rehab the building as inexpensively as possible.

“No excess, no bells and whistles,” she said. “We’re a needs-based organization. It’s not who we are to spend, spend, spend. We operate under a tax cap, we don’t levy above the [consumer price index], we don’t have debt and we’ve never gone to referendum.”

* This article was updated to correct information about the township’s insurance coverage limit of $250,000.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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