Vote on Bi-Park fountain postponed

Brock A. Stein | 7/7/2016, 6 a.m.
The Joliet City council this week opted to postpone votes on a proposed apartment complex near McDonaugh St. and upgrades ...

The Joliet City Council on Tuesday postponed approval for design work that will rehabilitate the fountain at Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park.

Several council members cited the need for more information before approving $75,000 in design work that would consume half of the estimated $150,000 rehab budget.

Council member Bettye Gavin said that she wanted to get more input from the committee overseeing the project before voting.

Gavin said she needed to know more about the design phase and what can be completed under the previously approved total budget.

“I would like to hear more input from the committee,” said Gavin.

“We were under the impression…that the $150,000 for the project was set aside for the design and construction of the project.”

Council member Larry Hug echoed those sentiments, noting that typically he believed that engineering should only cost 10-20% of the total cost of a project.

The $75,000, “that’s well above,” he said.

Hug said that the amount is too high to spend “before you decide whether you have enough money left over or if you’re going to have to expand that $150,000 [budget] already approved.”

Hug suggested that city staff reach out to other municipalities that have converted their fountains to “zero-depth” splash pads in order to get a “ballpark” estimate of what the project might cost.

A city memo shows that the estimate for the engineering was $35,000. City staff recommended approval of a $75,000 bid to Hitchcock Design Group.

The same memo shows that the city intends to use Community Development Block Grant funds from the federal government’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department to pay for the project.

The council also tabled a vote to approve a luxury apartment complex on a 20-acre site at the southeast corner of McDonough Street and SE Frontage Rd near I-55.

The Tall Grass Estates development will include 156 units on 10 lots on the site.

The developer, Ed Mattox, owner of Kipling Development is asking for a variance that will allow 7.8 apartments per acre, which is above the 6 per acre max currently allowed by the city.

Council members cited their own lingering questions and a group of neighbors of the nearby Timber Oaks condominiums who said that they were not notified of the planned development. Many cited the need for Mattox to complete work on their condo development and the possible diminished home values that could result if the rental units are built.