The playground behind the Hoeward Mohr Community Center is seen on Saturday, April 30, 2022, in Forest Park, Ill. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

Forest Park’s village council agreed to cancel the village reservoir inspection and clean-up contract after the village realized that prevailing wage laws applied to this project. 

While the previous bidder, Liquid Engineering Corporation of Billings, Montana, was willing to pay a prevailing wage, the revised bid put the project slightly above the $20,000 project budget. The village solicited additional proposals, and Midco Diving & Marine Services, of Rapid City, South Dakota, submitted a lower bid. With no other below-budget alternative on the horizon, the village council approved the Midco contract.

Forest Park has two reservoirs where the village stores water it receives from the City of Chicago. One is under the Howard Mohr Community Center playground, 7640 Jackson Blvd., and holds a million gallons. The one under the Hannah Avenue pump station holds approximately 350,000 gallons, but it has the capacity to hold 1 million as well. 

The reservoirs need to be inspected and cleaned of cerement every five years. What makes this year’s inspection different is that the village is looking into upgrading the community center playground equipment and repaving the playground surfaces. The village wants to see if they would need to do anything to the reservoir if the resurfacing proceeds as planned.

Mayor Rory Hoskins told the Review in February that he wants to update the playground which dates to the 1980s. Community Center Director Karen Dylewski told the Review that the playground isn’t up to current code, but it’s been grandfathered in. 

Village Administrator Moses Amidei previously told the Review that, in addition to getting the new playground equipment, the village is considering replacing the current wood chip surface with a more modern rubberized surface, resurfacing the asphalt portion of the playground, and erecting new fencing around the playground area. Hoskins said that fencing was needed given the proximity to a freight railroad line and the Pace bus staging area north of the Forest Park Blue Line el station. At the time, he estimated that it would cost “at least $200,000.”

When the village bid out the inspection and clean-up project, it assumed that it wouldn’t be subject to the Illinois prevailing wage law, which requires workers who work on most government projects to be paid the equivalent of an average wage and benefits within Cook County. The averages are calculated by the Illinois Department of Labor every month.

According to the memo to the village council, Liquid Engineering asked whether Prevailing Wage would apply in this case, and village research determined that, in fact, it did, because it involves a government asset.

Originally, Liquid Engineering submitted a $9,275 bid. With the prevailing wage, it went up to $20,620. Midco’s bid, which takes prevailing wage into account, was $17,843.

The work is expected to be completed in July.