The Forest Park Park District board voted last week to begin the process of seeking a construction manager to oversee the upcoming remodeling of the Park’s main administrative building at 7501 Harrison St.
Statements of qualifications from those interested in the job will be due the morning of July 25. The park district hopes to have the renovations complete by next spring, before the opening of the aquatic center.
The construction manager will work alongside W-T Engineering, the project manager for the park’s five year renovation project which includes the work to the main building as well as the current work on “Building 4” at Hannah Avenue and Sansone Drive. That building hosts the park’s summer camp and after school programs.
Responsibilities listed for the construction manager in the request for qualifications that the board authorized last week include “bidding, negotiating and overseeing all subcontractors and managing all aspects of the building construction.”
The park district will form a committee made up of several staff members and one board member (more than one board member would create an Open Meetings violation) to review all proposals received and rank the firms in order of preference.
Client references and experience with similar projects will also be taken into account.
The board will then either approve or reject the recommendation made by the committee.
Also during last week’s board meeting, Scott Triphan of W-T Engineering addressed the board to provide an update on the planning stages of the remodeling of the administrative building, which will include the installation of an elevator, a new main entrance and new offices and meeting rooms.
The building will also see its reception area, where residents sign up for park programs and services, moved from the second floor to the first floor.
Though all plans are preliminary at this point, one minor issue of contention arose when it was suggested that the washrooms currently on the east side of the building be eliminated and instead placed in a more central area of the park.
The washrooms will need to be moved to allow the planned renovations, but the board will have to decide whether to keep them elsewhere in the building or opt for increased office space.
One possibility suggested was to move them to a small shelter near the park’s bocce ball courts, referred to by park district staff as the “pavilion.” The pavilion, according to Executive Director Dave Novak, is intended simply as a retreat from the rain but is often used as a picnic area, with picnickers squabbling over its limited space.
“It’s becoming more of a detriment than an amenity,” he said, suggesting building a structure housing washrooms in its place and possibly constructing a new rain shelter elsewhere.
Still, some, including Commissioner Joe Byrnes, were skeptical. “I have a problem with putting it back that far because there’s a safety issue,” he said, noting that the washrooms would be difficult to supervise and would be more isolated than the current location.
Commissioner Mike Espinosa and board president Howard “Bud” Boy echoed Byrnes’ concerns. Novak pointed out that the proposed site would also alleviate some safety issues, as it would eliminate the need for people to cross Beloit Avenue to get from the athletic fields to the main building.
The board did not vote on this or any other issue regarding the specific details of the renovation plans, and will likely hold off on doing so until it has approved a construction manager’s proposals.