Blue Line lot won't be green

Village finances prevent environmentally friendly alternatives

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By Maria Maxham

A contract for the rehabilitation of the Blue Line parking lot north of Van Buren Street has been awarded to Chicagoland Paving, a unanimous decision made at the May 11 village council meeting. Chicagoland Paving came in lowest out of nine companies with a base bid of $485,000. This is $5,000 over the grant amount from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), money promised in 2014 but frozen until 2020.

At the April 27 meeting when the council voted to go out to bid on the project, Commissioner Jessica Voogd made a motion to table the parking lot project discussion until the next meeting so more time could be spent coming up with green solutions to be added into the specifications. With only one vote from Mayor Rory Hoskins, though, the item was not tabled, and the council voted to go out to bid.

Nine bids came into the village for the project, all with a base amount plus amounts for two alternatives that considered green elements. These alternatives included landscaping around the perimeters of the parking lot and installation of rain gardens.

At this time, however, due to suffering village finances during the COVID-19 crisis, the decision was made to vote only on the base amount without the environmentally friendly infrastructure. Chicagoland Paving's bid for the landscaping was $43,901 and $114,999.75 for the rain gardens, which would have brought the total project up to $643,900.75. Again, the DCEO grant is only for $480,000.

Voogd, who voted in favor of the contract award, said it was "a bitter pill to swallow." But she added that she understood the village isn't in a financial position to spend extra money right now.

"We don't have extra funds to be spending on alternatives, and I would be hard pressed to push for these alternatives right now," said Voogd, who added that she hopes to see ways to "green up the space" when the village is in a better financial position.

Hoskins said he echoed Voogd's sentiments. He said he'd talked to the public works department to see if any of the additional improvements could be done in-house but doesn't think that's a possibility.

He asked Vanessa Moritz, village clerk, to add the following into the minutes: "The council would like to at some point return to this lot and explore landscaping items and other improvements that could have reasonably been considered in a more favorable fiscal climate."

The project will begin shortly after Memorial Day.

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Julieta Cristina Aguilera Rodr%uFFFDguez  

Posted: May 22nd, 2020 1:53 PM

Cheap is expensive. Hopefully there is now an accessible public record and public attention to avoid this in the future. It is unfortunate that the grant was already tied to unsustainable means.

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