After long and frustrating negotiations, Hinsdale officials have reached an agreement with Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 that will allow construction of a parking garage next to the new Hinsdale Middle School to begin this summer.
Lima Excavating Contractors Inc. said it expects excavation will not begin until August, because the company that will make the pre-cast concrete panels for the garage had to wait until the final design was approved to begin fabricating them.
“The sooner, the better,” Village President Thomas Cauley, Jr. said.
With the late start in the construction season, the two-level parking garage will not be finished before the asphalt plants close for the winter.
The lower level of the parking deck will be asphalt, Cauley said, because it will not be exposed to the weather and is much cheaper than concrete, which is longer lasting.
Asphalt plants usually reopen in mid-April, so the garage is scheduled for completion in the middle of June 2020, said Jim Nagle, senior vice president of Wight Construction Services.
“Our goal is to beat that and have it open by Memorial Day,” Nagle said.
The Hinsdale Village Board voted 4-0 Tuesday to amend the agreement the village and District 181 have been working on since at least July 2017 to build and manage the parking garage in downtown Hinsdale, which will be shared by the school district and the village.
The garage will have about 319 spaces, with 133 or so on the upper level for Hinsdale Middle School staff and visitors, and 186 spaces on the lower level for the downtown businesses, shoppers and Metra commuters.
When school is not in session and the district does not have special events scheduled, both levels of the deck could be available to the general public.
The Village Board also approved a contract with Wight June 18 to build and manage the construction of the garage for a maximum price of $8,465,329, unless the village agrees to or asks for changes to the design.
That figure does not include what the village already has spent on soil borings, the foundation, an owner’s representative and other services.
The total budget for the project is $9.9 million.
Cauley said the budget has grown by about $1.3 million since last summer due to changes agreed to in mediation with District 181 over the weight the parking deck should be designed to support.
The village’s architects said 40 pounds per square foot would be sufficient to support the weight if vehicles filled all the spaces and the entire student body and staff from the middle school were on the deck at the same time.
The village included the weight of snow in the deck design, which meant it effectively could hold 50 pounds per square foot, Cauley said.
District 181’s experts and a structural engineer recommended the deck be designed to support 100 pounds per square foot, Superintendent Hector Garcia said.
To get the garage built, the village agreed to the 100 pounds per square foot limit, Cauley said.
The increase in the weight-bearing load will raise the price by about $200,000, village officials said. The delay in the construction schedule has raised the cost by another $200,000, due to rising concrete and steel prices and other factors.
All told, Hinsdale officials calculate the additions they agreed to through mediation will raise the cost by $597,000.
“This is overbuilt and we are paying for it,” Cauley said.
Garcia said Cauley is wrong to blame the school district for higher than anticipated costs, which indicate problems with internal budgeting, cost estimating and/or market prices for labor and materials.
“These apparent problems are unrelated to District 181,” Garcia said.
He said the original agreement obligated the village to construct the upper level of the deck to support emergency vehicles, which would have been more expensive than the design the village will use.
To reduce the village’s costs, the school district agreed school buses, fire trucks and ambulances could reach the school without going on the parking deck, Garcia said.
He also said since the original agreement was approved in March 2018, the village has controlled the design and construction schedule.
The District 181 Board approved the amended agreement June 13, which is consistent with the district’s focus on building a safe deck that will meet needs for fire drills and other emergency evacuations, Garcia said.
District 181 will pay about $1,308,000, as its share of the cost, which was set back in February 2018. The school district also will pay $18,620 each year toward the maintenance of the deck.
Garcia said he looks forward to having the parking garage finished, so the paved lot at Second and Washington streets where the school staff has been parking temporarily can be converted back to a field the students can use for outdoor activities.
The school district had planned to build a simple parking lot for the new middle school. The two-story garage for both school and public use was the village’s idea to solve the longstanding parking shortage in the village’s downtown, and one requested by business owners.
Property owners in the downtown business district will contribute an estimated $900,000 to the project, in the form of extra property taxes they will pay over the term of a special service area created to help fund the project.
Village Manager Kathleen Gargano also went “hat in hand” asking local legislators for funds, Cauley said.
Through her and the village’s lobbyist’s efforts, Democratic state Sen. Suzy Glowiak, who represents the 24th Senate District, included $400,000 in the recently passed state’s infrastructure budget for the parking deck, Cauley said.
The village also expects to receive $500,000 from Metra, thanks to the help of Republican state Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, Cauley said.
Metra spokeswoman Katie Dahlstrom said Metra would contribute $500,000 in exchange for the village designating 50 parking spaces for Metra commuters. The agreement, which the Metra Board of Directors has not yet approved, specifies 10 of the spaces would be in the new parking deck and the other 40 would be surface parking spaces near the downtown Metra station.
The village also will tap a parking fund. Developers who are short the required number of parking spaces for a project they are building pay a cash amount to the village for each space they are short. There’s $135,000 in that fund from the developers of Garfield Crossing, at Garfield and First streets, which will be spent on the new garage.
Cauley also hopes the village will be able to reallocate grant money Hinsdale received, but did not spend, on rebuilding the Oak Street bridge.
Cauley said there is about $451,000 in grants left from the roughly $9.4 million in federal, state and county funds Hinsdale received to replace the one-way bridge over the BNSF Railway.