Except for the fountain and the veterans memorial wall, Fountain Square is almost complete. The fountain will be at grade-level. The glass memorial wall, encased in blue at the rear of this photo, will bear the names of Evanstonians who died in the service of this country. RoundTable photo

Except for the fountains and the veterans’ memorial glass wall, the Fountain Square renovations are substantially complete, according to presentations by City staff members at the Aug. 13 Administration and Public Works and City Council meetings. The information apparently satisfied the eight aldermen in attendance that evening, as they approved a change order and a time extension for what City staff said should be the last phase of the project.

This is the second change order for Christopher B. Burke Engineering, the company hired by the City to oversee Copenhaver Construction, the contractor for the project. The engineering firm has been working with the construction company for the past 17 months, offering advice on scheduling, procedures and the like, Public Works Agency Director Dave Stoneback said. Copenhaver has encountered difficulties with the fountains and the memorial wall and has missed some deadlines. Those delays and problems increased oversight costs incurred by Burke Engineering and further delayed the completion of the project.

The additional $40,000 brings the amount charged by Christopher B. Burke Engineering for this project to $985,000 and extends the contract deadline from Sept. 30 to Dec. 31.

A memo from Mr. Stoneback, Bureau Chief – Capital Planning/City Engineer Lara Biggs and Senior Project Manager Stefanie Levine said the funding will come from the $154,000 assessed against Copenhaver.

The memo also offered a back story on the construction problems and delays with the two principal visual aspects of the project: the fountain and the veterans’ memorial wall.

Copenhaver missed the Dec. 1, 2017, deadline because of a delayed permit from the Illinois Department of Public Health for the fountain construction and extended lead-time for glazing for the veterans memorial, among other things. Several months ago, Council extended the deadline until May 1 of this year and approved additional funding for the project.

The glass wall arrived damaged on May 25 and was returned. While crews installed the new glass panels in July, one of those was damaged and sent back for refabrication. City officials say they anticipate this final panel will be installed within the next several weeks.

Leaks in the fountain’s water pipes have hampered that aspect of the project. The memo says, “The contractor elected to install the fountain’s structural concrete base and granite finish material prior to pressure testing the water pipes. When the water pipes were pressure tested, it was determined that there were leaks at the pipe joints.”

Mr. Stoneback said on Aug. 13 the contract with Copenhaver did not require that Copenhaver test the pipes before pouring the concrete over the site and acknowledged that, had that been done, crews would have discovered the leaks earlier. The pipe-lining company engaged by the contractor to seal the pipe joints is making progress, albeit slow progress because of the many bends and the small sizes of the pipes.

Ms. Biggs said testing the fountains, including the software that controls the water flow to the fountains, could begin later this month.

City staff also requested Christopher B. Burke Engineering to provide cost estimates for sidewalk improvements north of Fountain Square on the east side of Sherman Avenue between Davis and Church Streets. The proposed improvements would be installing new curbs and gutters on the east side of Sherman Avenue, resurfacing the full width of Sherman Avenue, installing new concrete sidewalks with brick accents on the east side of Sherman Avenue and setting new light poles on existing foundations on both sides of Sherman Avenue, using existing conduit and wiring. 

The cost for this addition to the project could be covered by using funds from the soon-to-retire Washington National tax-increment financing, district and by applying the funds withheld from Copenhaver for missing some deadlines. Mr. Stoneback said the liquidated damages from Copenhaver are subtracted from the amount on invoices. “We don’t have to recover the costs. We just dock that amount,” he said.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...