The buildings are old, some represent historically valuable buildings and minor fixes need to be made to most of them was the conclusion of the Park District’s engineering firm after conducting an initial review of the park’s buildings.
The evaluation is the first step in an on-going effort to create a comprehensive master plan for the Park District of Forest Park and was conducted by architects and engineers from the district’s engineering firm, W-T Engineering.
The next step will be to create a STOW Analysis reviewing the park’s strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities as well as the park’s programming options before setting down a maintenance schedule for all holdings.
In general, there is a lot of routine maintenance and a few minor fixes that need to be made to most if not all of the buildings, including upgrades to exit signs and the possibility of bringing the entire park into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by creating handicapped access and updating bathrooms to make them accessible, said representatives for W-T Engineering.
In addition, the basketball courts are in disrepair and parking issues need to be dealt with when construction begins on the Roos Building.
The construction will likely affect participation at park events and will cause a problem for the current one-way traffic arrangement in the park.
The administration building itself, said Robert L. Juris, an architect with Robert Juris & Associates, “has a lot of character, with a lime stone exterior. It is a gem but, as with a lot of old buildings, it needs maintenance.”
As a long-term goal, Juris suggested the park look into getting an elevator installed.
The building also has a persistent leak problem on the back deck and, Juris said, portions of that wall cannot be salvaged. The roof in the area, he said, must be replaced but the deck itself can be salvaged.
Scott R. Triphahn, president of W-T Engineering agreed that the exterior wall system needs some work and the roof needs to redone. He also pointed out that the building has serious access issues and that fixing the accessibility issues (for bathrooms, for example) would allow the district to apply for more grants.
Triphahn also said the building has non-conforming fixtures that need to be replaced and said he didn’t like the clothes dryer venting system.
In the bathrooms “ventilation is through the windows, when we do new ones, we’d put in exhaust fans,” he added.
He added that in the case of a possible elevator installment, the electrical system for the building will need upgrading.
Finally, emergency fire alarms, smoke detectors and battery back-ups need to be updated.
In the Ranger Building, also known as building two, the glass block is cracked, a minor repair, Juris said.
The building also has a slight ventilation problem, Triphahn added.
The Maintenance Building, also known as building three, is a “pre-engineered building, with a wood frame and a metal roof,” Juris said. In it, the “down spouts are undersized, the restroom facilities are more than adequate and there are minor accessibility issues.”
In this building, as in the Main Building, the emergency lights need to be updated with new battery-back-up systems.
In the Rec Building, building four, the roof is going to need attention soon, Juris said. “I recommend adding insulation and saving some energy.”
The building has minor cracking in some of the walls and bathroom toilets need to be upgraded. There are accessibility issues in the building as well.
In this building, Triphahn said, there are ventilation problems and the fixtures all have galvanized piping, which need to be ripped out and replaced with copper pipes. He also pointed to outlets which need to be raised and to switches that need to be lowered to bring the building into ADA compliance.
Characterizing the old Gas Station Building as a “very good adaptive reuse of a building,” Juris said the main problem is the restrooms are outside and the ramps and sidewalks are too steep.
“In this building, if the cooking range is going to be commercially used, you will need to install a hood and a fire suppression system,” Triphahn said.
The men agreed that to analyze the scoring buildings and dug outs, they need more information on their current usage.
Triphahn suggested that the easiest way to bring the score booth into ADA compliance is to make the first level microphone and plug accessible for any handicapped scorers.
At the concession stand, Triphahn suggested moving the compressors outside and taking advantage of the cross ventilation in the building as the most economical way of solving the building’s heating and air conditioning problems.
Other small fixes discussed were getting more information on the pool slides and having them inspected by the manufacturers.
“This is not a short process,” Triphahn told board members. “It is a six month to a year process, but if you don’t master plan now, with the way [the government is] taking money away, it would be silly.”
Dave Novak, Park director, agreed, adding that the next step in the process is to put numbers to all these observations.
The park board members and staff will be meeting over the next few weeks with W-T Engineering to brain storm, look at the numbers and create the STOW evaluation, which will then be submitted for public review.