Lake Street overhaul estimates run to $18.8M

Streetscape project set for spring of 2019 groundbreaking

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park got an update at the Feb. 5 village board meeting on a multi-million project to overhaul streets and sidewalks along Lake Street and replace old sewer and water lines.

The project, which would launch in spring of 2019 and be complete by fall of 2020, is projected to cost approximately $18.8 million, about $15.8 million of which would be paid for by the village and the remainder by a federal transportation grant.

Planners gave an overview of the project, which is being headed by Thomas Engineering Group and The Lakota Group, showing that deteriorated sidewalks, brick pavers and roadway would be replaced, and sidewalk clutter like unnecessary signs and other obsolete sidewalk furniture will be removed.

The road resurfacing project will run the full length of Lake Street, from Harlem Avenue to Austin Boulevard; the streetscape improvements will run from Harlem Avenue to Euclid Avenue.

Planners told trustees on Feb. 5 that the replacement of water and sewer utilities will cost roughly $1.3 million, and the pavement resurfacing will run approximately $1.4 million.

Steve Pasinski, planning and design department head for Thomas Engineering Group, said the village also has applied for a $3 million transportation enhancement grant with the Illinois Department of Transportation, but Oak Park won't know if it will receive that grant until spring 2018.

Kevin Clark, director of design for Lakota Group, told trustees that his firm has worked over the last three years with the village's steering committee to craft a plan for the streetscape overhaul.

He said the proposal includes red-brick intersections in the downtown area and some use of bluestone to match the material used on and around Marion Street.

The proposal also includes a water feature near the intersection of Lake and Forest that also would serve as a seating area during the winter.

Trustees will take up the issue again at its board meeting set for Feb. 26, but they already are asking for options to reduce the project's price tag.

Trustee Deno Andrews said the bluestone used on Marion Street was expensive and already is starting to crack. 

"They're already moving and uneven," he said.

Trustee Bob Tucker said the board should consider the future of brick-and-mortar stores, emphasizing the importance of creating a sense of place to attract visitors. 

"I think that's crucial," he said.

Trustees directed village staff and planners to return later this month with some alternatives to materials to give them an opportunity to potentially reduce the cost.

* This story was updated to correct the amount of the transportation grant available for the project.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Ramona Lopez  

Posted: February 11th, 2018 11:29 PM

Doesn't the village employ urban planners? I have worked with Lakota before and they completely ripped us off How hard is it to design a sidewalk? Concrete? Brick? Bluestone? Granite? etc. How hard is it to pick out a type of lamp post? How hard is it to pick out benches and trash receptacles? I learned the hard way, it;s not. Yet, we paid someone a LOT of money to do things any reasonable person could do Wasn't there an article a several years ago after the Marion St. project criticizing Lakota called "Streets Paved with Gold"?

Bridgett Baron  

Posted: February 11th, 2018 8:53 PM

Some more detail: The $1.3MM is for utility work between Grove and Euclid, the $1.4 MM is for resurfacing from Euclid to Austin. The other $16.1MM (broken down as $3MM Fed money, and $13.1MM Village money) is on Lake from Harlem to Euclid, and on Marion from Lake to Ontario, for streetscaping and roadway, like pavers, brick, bluestone sidewalks, planters, lights, and "specialty features." Also making everything ADA compliant. Here is a link to the agenda item at the board meeting on this. https://oak-park.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3334634&GUID=CB7E4BE4-0B01-4677-A1FB-E75182F53266 //And #2 "Lake Street Streetscape Presentation FINAL 1-29-18" is a 28-slide PDF with visuals.// I am not a fan of bluestone. It's initially expensive, and because it's not durable, it's ongoing expensive. If we used color-stamped concrete to look like bluestone, or whatever, the cost would decrease by almost $2MM. If North Marion Street wasn't done, that's another decrease of $2MM. If the "specialty feature" at Forest was changed to not include water (like a fountain), the cost would decrease by $200K.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: February 11th, 2018 4:33 PM

These numbers cant be correct. Paragraph 5 says 1.3 million for water and sewer utilities, and pavement resurfacing at 1.4 million dollars. That's 2.7 million dollars for an 18.8 million dollar project. What does the other 16.1 million dollars get spent on? This ism like tourism bringing 22 million dollars into the village.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 11th, 2018 2:51 PM

And Ray, given how things actually worked out (or in this case didn't) for the Lake Street Mall and the expenses paid for development and then tear down, I for one, think those arguments and complaints you refer to (if indeed were those same ones we make today), were proven valid. Nothing like historical confirmation.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: February 11th, 2018 12:56 PM

Some 55+ years ago my first real job I worked for Barton-Aschman Associates in Evanston. I worked on the original Lake Street mall and I seem to remember all of the same arguments and complaints we see here. The price tag is just a whole lot more. What goes around - - -

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 11th, 2018 12:38 PM

"Trustees will take up the issue again at its board meeting set for Feb. 26, but they already are asking for options to reduce the project's price tag." No Trustees you do NOT ask for options to reduce this ludicrously inane overly inflated price - you DEMAND options. Period.

Marty Strode from River Forest  

Posted: February 11th, 2018 11:16 AM

Right, this is just what Oak Park needs(NOT),. Stop spending and wasting taxpayers money with senseless unnecessary improvements. We need FREE PARKING!!! Otherwise you drive prospective shoppers away. Expand the time on parking meters!!!!!!! Maybe it's time for a new change of scenery at city hall. Spending , spending , spending , why not give back to the community ,the people who support you? We do NOT need brick crosswalks or waterfalls instead try finding a big anchor store where Marshall Fields use to be. Oak Parker's are tired of being abused!!!!

Carolyn Cullen  

Posted: February 9th, 2018 5:37 PM

It is ironic that the concept view shows a tiny corner of the existing former Lyttons store behind the new water feature instead of the looming monstrosity of the Albion tower which will regrettably be there by then.

Laura N Rodriguez from Oak Park  

Posted: February 8th, 2018 1:13 PM

No. Ridiculous spending, time etc.. security needed more or people will move out!!!

Tojo Copperfield from Oak park  

Posted: February 7th, 2018 7:33 PM

I love the idea. Any improvements like this keeps the area fresh. It is looking rather rundown. Now if someone could occupy the old department store building at the corner of lake and Harlem.

Jeff Evans from Oak Park  

Posted: February 7th, 2018 4:30 PM

What is being done aside from the water/sewer and resurfacing? Both of those pieces are specifically itemized but that still leaves $16.1 million, or 85% of the total. Also, what happens if the village doesn't get the grant? Will it have to then put up the additional $2 million?

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