Forest Park expects to get $1.5 million in state funding to help rehab its aging facilities — and it hired Elgin-based SMC Construction Services to independently evaluate current building conditions.
The village council approved the $21,340 contract, which the village is paying for with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal stimulus funds, during its May 23 meeting. Village Administrator Moses Amidei said while village staff is aware of many issues facing the buildings, he wanted to get a more thorough, independent evaluation. Commissioner of Public Property Jessica Voogd expressed concern about dipping into ARPA funds without having a special meeting to discuss the overall plan for spending the federal funds. But she voted with the rest of the council in favor of the building assessment.
Aside from the village hall, the police and fire stations, the scope of the project includes the Mohr Community Center, 7640 Jackson Blvd., and Public Works facilities at 7343 W. 15th St. and 7644 Jackson Blvd.
Over the past few years, Amidei, Mayor Rory Hoskins and various commissioners spoke repeatedly about the fact that the facilities are aging, and the maintenance issues are accumulating. While the village has already used ARPA funds to address some urgent issues, like repairing the fire station roof, Amidei previously indicated that Forest Park would need state and other federal funding to fully address the backlog.
During the May 23 meeting, Amidei said it was important for the village to get an independent evaluation.
“This will be able to provide the council with some guidance — what do we need to do right now, what do we need to start thinking about,” he said.
The village council last discussed ARPA spending on Jan. 23. When the lowest bid for another APRA-funded project — the reconstruction of the Mohr Community Center playground — came in $70,000 over budget, the council agreed to dip into APRA funds if Forest Park can’t get state grant funding to make up the difference. Voogd, whose responsibilities include oversight over village facilities, agreed to vote for it on April 24 with an understanding that the commissioners will hold another meeting before spending on anything else. During the same meeting, the council agreed not to give the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce $20,000 in ARPA funds for marketing plans until the meeting can take place.
During the May 23 meeting, Voogd said that, while she believed a building survey was important, she wanted to delay the vote until after the ARPA budget meeting.
“This so long overdue and very important, but I do think we need to have our ARPA meeting before we commit our funds to that, especially with the recent $70,000 we have to come up with,” she said.
Amidei responded that, while the council could wait, he would prefer to get the survey done sooner rather than later.
Voogd agreed but said that she would rather not approve any further unplanned ARPA spending before the meeting.
“I was just making a point that these last two things, they’re starting to pile up,” she said.