River Forest officials have hired a professional engineering firm to assist with an electric vehicle infrastructure study. The village board voted unanimously, Nov. 14, to hire Ciorba Group Inc. of Chicago to conduct the study at a cost not to exceed $31,078.22.

The project was budgeted at $25,000, but the proposal by Ciorba and the only other proposal submitted exceeded the estimated cost. Jeff Loster, director of public works and development services, explained that staff members negotiated with Ciorba officials to scale back the proposal from its original $79,000 estimate by reducing the scope of the project. The cost will be covered by the capital improvement fund.

Items to be included in the scope of work are study of village-owned facilities and parking lots; the River Forest Town Center; the Community Center; the commuter parking areas; and campuses of Concordia University and Dominican University, which both are located in River Forest.

Trustee Bob O’Connell questioned why the village is paying for a study of private property, specifically the River Forest Town Center and the two universities. Loster explained that the Town Center and two universities are “high parking turnover areas” but acknowledged one or two of those locations could be exchanged for either or both Keystone Park and Trailside Museum locations, both of which were in the original request for proposals but were eliminated when the scope of the project was reduced.

Village President Cathy Adduci noted that the village could charge the private property entities for their portion of the study. Trustee Ken Johnson asked whether officials have investigated whether the private property entities have already undertaken such a study on their own.

“Do we know if the Town Center has done a similar study?” Johnson said.

Trustee Lisa Gillis advised approaching the private property entities carefully.

“We have to have the right conversation,” she said. 

O’Connell pointed out that in other parts of the country, such studies are required with new developments.

In response to Trustee Katie Brennan’s question about grant funding, Loster said, “Grant opportunities can be part of the project.” Adduci suggested looking for grant opportunities in the recently approved federal infrastructure bill.

Village Administrator Brian Murphy said staff members looking into grant opportunities at the federal level have been told that underserved communities are expected to be given a higher priority.  

A memo to Murphy, Loster and Seth Jansen, management analyst, said the purpose of the study is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the village to identify ideal locations for electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure for the village-owned fleet vehicles and to encourage EV usage by the general public.

The village installed an EV charging station outside village hall in February.

The study also includes determination of electrical needs at each recommended site and a compilation of project report, which will include recommended scope of work and typical details to facilitate individual site construction.

Ciorba has performed similar work for the village of Elmwood Park, leading to installation of two EV charging stations. Other municipalities where Ciorba has performed work include Oak Park, Winnetka, New Lenox and Hanover Park.

Village properties to be included in the study are village hall, the pumping station and the public works facility.

Assuming the project starts this month, as officials are hoping, the final project report is expected to be delivered in May.

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