Two big road construction and streetscaping projects are headed to the village over the next couple of years — one along Lake Street from Harlem to Austin and a second along Oak Park Avenue through the so-called Hemingway District.

The project along Lake Street is set to begin in 2020 and includes streetscaping from Harlem to Euclid, water and sewer replacement from Grove to Euclid and street resurfacing from Euclid to Austin.

The Lake Street project was originally planned to take place this year but was delayed to better sequence with the resurfacing project now taking place on Madison Street.

Village Engineer Bill McKenna told trustees at the Sept. 9 meeting that the village will wait a year to begin the Oak Park Avenue project to give businesses along the commercial corridor time to recover from the disruption of the Lake Street project.

Cook County is contributing $310,000 for the Lake Street resurfacing project, and $3 million in federal funds will be used for the streetscaping portion of the project; the final cost estimate for the project is $1.5 million for the resurfacing project, $1.86 million for the water and sewer project, and $10.2 million for the streetscaping project.

The village also is set to receive $3 million in federal funds for the Oak Park Avenue project. McKenna told trustees that the project is estimated to cost $3.7 million for resurfacing, $4.1 million for water and sewer updates and $3.1 million for streetscaping.

Another $775,000 will go to Terra Engineering Ltd. for the planning and design of the Oak Park Avenue project.

Trustees took no formal action at the board meeting but gave preliminary approval through a straw vote. The vote to fund the design phase of the project and to direct staff to proceed on planning for the Oak Park Avenue project is set to take place at the Sept. 16 board meeting.

Trustees are saddled this year with an ever-tightening budget, prompting some trustees to question whether the streetscaping portion of the Oak Park Avenue project is prudent at this time. 

Trustee Deno Andrews said he wants to see a “very detailed pro forma” on the costs of the Oak Park streetscape project in an effort to rein in spending. 

“I’d like to know everybody who’s getting paid and how much,” he said, adding that the village should give greater consideration to more neglected business districts in the village.

“We need to be careful about creating a big gem at Lake and Oak Park Avenue at the expense of other business districts,” he said.

He suggested setting a budget amount that makes sense and then figuring out what the village can afford, rather than being presented a plan and putting the board in the position of having to remove certain aspects of the proposal.

Trustee Dan Moroney said he was generally opposed to “elaborate streetscapes” because of the cost.

Andrews noted that the village’s debt service costs are set to increase about 50 percent over the next two years, calling it a “debt crisis” for taxpayers.

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