Outfall sewer project contracts OK’d in Lincolnwood
The Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees at its June 18 meeting approved contracts worth more than $4.2 million for the construction and oversight of the North Shore outfall sewer project despite costing about half a million dollars more than initially proposed.
"I’ll second this motion, but I will say that I am extremely unhappy with a $500,000 error in the bid process from what we were originally told. We’ve been working on this a long time, and that’s a little hard to eat," Trustee Craig Klatzco said. "That’s another $35,000 a year to pay for the bond of $500,000."
Public Works director Andrew Letson and village engineer James Amelio said that the scope of the project was expanded to include additional sewers in some alleys north and south of North Shore Avenue, increasing the asphalt foundation depth under some streets, and replacing some curbs, sidewalks and driveways in the 3400 and 3500 blocks of West North Shore Avenue after discovering that those streets were "flatter than anticipated" and unable to properly drain runoff water.
"When we got into the detailed design we identified that on North Shore from Drake to McCormick, essentially the existing curbline was relatively flat and could hold a lot of water," Amelio said.
Additional resurfacing could also occur in the 6600 blocks of North Christiana Avenue, the 3300 block of West Rance Terrace, and the 3600 and 3700 blocks of West North Shore Avenue.
"We were also including…additional roadway resurfacing in the area to take advantage of economy of scale," Letson said. "Ultimately, we have to do that (resurfacing) sometime in the next 10 years."
The sewer, which aims to reduce village flooding in the event of 10-year storms is slated for construction in North Shore Avenue between the North Shore Channel and Drake Avenue, with branching sewers in the 6600 block of North Kimball Avenue between Albion and North Shore avenues, in the 3300 block of West Columbia Avenue, and in McCormick Boulevard between Columbia and North Shore avenues.
Trustees voted 4-1 to approve the contracts, with Trustee Georjean Hlepas-Nickell voting against and Mayor Barry Bass voting yes due to the lack of a voting supermajority since Trustee Ronald Cope was absent.
The contracts total about $3.9 million for sewer construction by DiMeo Brothers, and $306,289 for construction oversight services by Christopher Burke Engineering.
The project would be funded via a previously approved $1,391,763 Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago grant, $125,000 from storm water "fees-in-lieu" paid by developers, and a $2.56 million village general obligation bond – which was originally proposed at about $2 million – as well as through $306,289 in requested state motor fuel tax funds that the board also approved at the meeting.
The board also formalized an easement with the MWRD to connect the sewer to the North Shore Channel across Lincolnwood Centennial Park at 6801 N. McCormick Blvd., which is MWRD-owned land, as well as license agreements to create driveway berm gutters for some homes with reverse-sloped driveways leading to garages that are at risk of flooding.
Also at the meeting, trustees debated the merits of a developer’s proposal to create four new left turn lanes by the lot at 3720 W. Touhy Ave., after residents warned that the changes could eliminate roadway buffer space and create safety issues when backing vehicles from their driveways onto Touhy, particularly after snowfalls.
The turn lanes are needed for a 31,860-square-foot Lurie Children’s Hospital facility, about 8,250 square feet of retail space, and two restaurants totaling about 7,000 square feet. Although the development is located on a vacant lot in the Village of Skokie, the involved roadways are in Lincolnwood.
The proposal would call for new turn lanes in each direction of Touhy at North Hamlin Avenue, a new lane from southbound Hamlin onto eastbound Touhy, and a new turn lane from eastbound Touhy to North Ridgeway Avenue. The road reconfiguration would eliminate about 15 street parking spaces on Touhy.
Trustees did not vote on the matter.
Trustees also directed village attorney Steven Elrod and the Village Plan Commission to start examining zoning options for possible recreational cannabis dispensaries, which could apply to locate in Lincolnwood after recreational cannabis becomes legal on Jan. 1. Currently, no medical cannabis dispensaries are located in the village.
"It may be something that you want, it may be something that you don’t want. It may be something that you would like to allow only by special use," Elrod said. "What this resolution does is give you the time to consider what you want to do in respect to regulation of the sale of cannabis, whether you want to prohibit it, allow it as a permitted use or only as a special use."
At the Committee of the Whole meeting before the regular board meeting, officials addressed the water pump failure that occurred on June 13 that led to a village-wide "boil order" requiring residents to boil possibly unclean water to make it consumable.
As Letson explained, water pressure fell because of a storm that led to a power outage and the relay that automatically switches the pumping system to its backup electrical system failed, leading two pumps to stop operating and water pressure to drop for 50 minutes. Letson said a water standpipe is undergoing general maintenance and was unable to provide backup water pressure.
"When you have low water pressure it allows for potential growth of bacteria in the system, causing harm, so per the EPA’s recommendation we went ahead and issued a precautionary boiler alert," Letson said. He confirmed that bacteria were not found in the water samples the village took.
Former mayor Gerald Turry exchanged words with mayor Bass about the situation.
"One of the failures is that this village cleaned house and a lot of the important people who were at the helm and understood the mechanisms involved in this. And that is not something to be taken lightly. So we’ve all learned something in the heat of the action, and I hope you all work very hard to get yourselves up to speed so we can avoid something like this again," Turry said. "The public has a right to know right away."
"When there’s a crisis going on, my main concern – when these guys are trying to judge whether they’re going to fry out pumps or worse – not to start being negative with them," Bass said.
Turry said maintaining a battery-powered pump generator "wouldn’t be influenced by power failures."