Construction crews are expected to start work on a major infrastructure project on the north end of the Forest Park by the end of the month, following action by the village council Aug. 12.

That evening, officials voted 4-0 to award a contract for the $2.1 million multifaceted Brown Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Improvements Project to Swallow Construction Co. of Downers Grove.

Bidding for the project is the first since the Forest Park Village Council approved a responsible bidder ordinance, July 8.

Swallow Construction’s bid of $2,310,157.05 was the lower of two bids and lower than the estimated cost of $2,346,179.50. The other bid was $2,329,563,59 by M&J Asphalt of Cicero.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian said the village has not used Swallow Construction before but noted that officials checked the firm’s references and they are “all good.”

The number of bidders was lower than the number of firms that have submitted bids for infrastructure projects in previous years. In March, seven firms submitted bids for water main replacement and street resurfacing and six firms submitted bids for a green alley project.

Mayor Rory Hoskins attributed the lower number to the responsible bidder ordinance.

“All bidders were aware of the requirements of the ordinance,” he said. “I suspect we separated the contenders from the pretenders.”

Under the new ordinance, a responsible bidder is defined as a person or entity “who has the capability in all respects to perform fully the contract requirements, with the perseverance, experience, integrity, reliability, capacity, facilities, equipment and credit to assume good faith performance” and lists 10 “specific applicable criteria.”

Those criteria address compliance with laws prerequisite to doing business in Illinois, the federal Equal Opportunity Employer Provision, the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act, and the Substance Abuse Prevention on Public Works Projects Act.

Other criteria include having a valid federal tax identification number or Social Security number; certificates of insurance; a written sexual harassment policy that complies with the Illinois Human Rights Act; and relevant experience and adequate references.

In addition, criteria include evidence of participation in apprentice and training programs approved by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship and Training and a “good-faith effort” toward providing equal employment opportunities that are consistent with the racial, ethnic and gender demographics of the labor force.

The project includes televising and cleaning the sewers and developing and implementing a sewer repair/lining program from information gleaned from the televising; replacing a 6-inch water main on Circle Avenue from Harlem Avenue to Franklin Street with an 8-inch water main; a sewer separation project that would redirect storm water from the existing combined sewer; sidewalk repairs and pavement patching; and resurfacing the entire area. 

Security measures around the north water tower at 7421 Franklin and a gateway sign on Harlem also were being considered but will be addressed on future projects.

The storm sewer separation component of the project, the cost of which will be covered by the TIF fund, will help mitigate flooding, which is a goal of village officials. The TIF fund has $4.6 million available.

The Brown Street TIF District was created in 2000 and will expire in 2023. The district includes primarily the area between Central Avenue, the village’s northern border, and Franklin and between Harlem and Lathrop Avenue.

Bid specifications were approved at the July 8 village council meeting and bids were opened July 25. 

Areas that will be affected are the 7500 block of Brown; 000 block of Marengo Avenue; 000-100 blocks of Elgin Avenue; 7200-7400 blocks of Franklin; and 7200-7300 blocks of Circle.

While the Brown Street TIF Project is about to start, village officials announced another major infrastructure project planned for this year, a $2.7 sewer separation project on the south end of the village, will not likely start until 2020.

Gillian verified that the village has received a $1 million grant from the Phase II Stormwater Management program of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) that will cover a major portion of the project costs. The remaining costs will be covered by Roosevelt/Hannah TIF funds. 

Gillian said village officials cannot move forward with the project until they obtain an easement from the U.S. Postal Service for property along Roosevelt Road.

However, Hoskins expressed optimism the project will “move forward” this year.

The project types under Phase II include the installation of “green” and “gray” infrastructure, localized detention, upsizing critical storm sewers and culverts, pump stations and establishing drainage ways. An MWRD spokesman said preference was given to “shovel ready” projects or projects which have a completed or nearly completed design.

The project, which village officials said previously would help mitigate some of the flooding problems, would entail separating the combined sewer on Circle from Roosevelt Road to 16th Street and eventually redirect the storm water into the Des Plaines River after connecting with an existing storm water sewer at 15th Street and Hannah Avenue.

Officials also said previously that the project would benefit not only properties on Circle but also other properties in that area because there will be less of a burden on the combination sewer.