Although a touch of snow preceded the end of construction season, most capital projects slated for 2014 were completed before the cold weather came to stay. City Engineer Sat Nagar gave an update on streetscapes, alley-paving and the Arrington Lagoon to City Council at the Oct. 25 budget meeting.
“We are pretty much on target to finish up the construction projects,” Mr. Nagar said. These include street repairs and resurfacing, sidewalk replacements, streetscape improvements, water-main replacements and the renovation of the lagoon at Dawes Park.
Streetscapes were improved along the north side of Central Street between Lincolnwood and Ewing avenues and between Prairie Avenue and Green Bay Road and on Sherman Avenue between Church and Lake streets.
Sidewalks and Alleys
Between 200 and 300 property owners participated in the sidewalk-replacement program this year, said Mr. Nagar. The list for next year is growing, he added.
Most alleys have been paved, said Mr. Nagar, but a shortage of cement, owing to the runway project at O’Hare International Airport, caused delay to a few.
Those, he said, should be completed by mid-November.
The City has 176 miles of streets, and since some are multi-lane, there are 190 lane miles of streets here, said Mr. Nagar. The life expectancy of a street is 15 years, and with the present allocation of funds – about $2 million, the City will not catch up with the needs unless another source of funding is found, Mr. Nagar said.
The lagoon at Dawes Park was constructed in the 1930s by the WPA. A gift from the Arrington family has allowed the City to reconstruct the lagoon base and renovate the area. The project “is nearing completion. Most of the work is done except restoration and path paving,” said Mr. Nagar.
Update on Capital Projects
The tentative budget for fiscal year 2015 proposes $43 million in capital projects, said Assistant City Manager/Treasurer Martin Lyons.
In a survey of residents conducted in connection with the preparation of this budget, “32% of residents said, ‘Fix the streets’; others said, ‘Work on parks,’”
Mr. Lyons said. The proposed budget would allocate $8 million for streets, sidewalks and alley repairs, he added. Work on parks may be somewhat slower, however. The City application for a grant to renovate the soccer field at Lovelace Park was denied, he said.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said City staff members have pulled back on their recommendation to spend $250,000 for a consultant to evaluate the parks. “What we’re going to do instead is come back with our evaluation of safety issues only, move forward with that and then have a conversation with you in winter regarding a capital plan for future years for parks,” he told the Council members.
“I think the point was made by Alderman [Don] Wilson and others that identifying our park needs without having an identical funding mechanism behind it is perhaps not the best use of dollars, and the staff agreed. We will come back in winter to discuss with Council [a way to move forward] that will not require a $250,000 consulting contract,” Mr. Bobkiewicz added.
The City plans to issue $7.5 million in general obligation bonds, Mr. Lyons said. The City issues these bonds in July of each year, he said, “so we pay the least amount of interest.” He also said the proposed 10 percent increase in the water rate – coupled with a similar one proposed for 2016 – “are for a capital program that will address long-term funding issues.”
Most of the Nov. 17 City Council meeting will be devoted to discussing the budget, said Mr. Bobkiewicz, and it is expected that Council will adopt a budget at its Nov. 24 meeting. By law, the City must approve a balanced budget by the beginning of the next fiscal year, Jan. 1, 2015.