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Village Board: Officials discuss delays, approve change orders for Heritage Park Active Core

Jessie Molloy, Freelance Reporter
4:49 pm CST December 3, 2018

The Homer Glen Village Board had a lengthy conversation at its Nov. 28 meeting regarding payment change orders issued for the Heritage Park Active Core Project.

The Active Core is running behind schedule, in part because of poor weather conditions. While Phase I of the project, including the sports facilities and play and fitness areas was scheduled for completion by Oct. 19, it remains uncompleted, as does Phase II’s sensory garden and court games, which were due to be completed last week. With continued snow and freezing temperatures predicted, it is now assumed that all three phases of the park will be completed in spring 2019. 

Nevertheless, several change orders have been issued for the items that have already been completed, fixing or addressing issues which were overlooked or needed additional work. 

The board approved payment on three of those items during the meeting for a total cost of $18,161.

The first approved order provides $7,000 in funds for extra materials and labor needed to install handrails at the park’s pavilion. The handrails are required by building code but were overlooked in the original plans.

Another item allocated $5,115 for landscaping changes and backfilling, which was necessitated by drainage issues and utility installation. According to Village Clerk Anne Holtz, this issue was not discovered until some of the work was already underway and was fairly routine.

The third issue, which caused some debate among the board members, regarded the replanting of 19 trees. Integral Construction is requesting $6,046 in landscaping and earthwork costs related to the removal and transplanting of the trees, which were installed during the completion of the Heritage Circle construction project but were deemed to be in the way of the Active Core construction.

Some of the trees in question were moved and transplanted in Goodings Grove Park, while others are being stored and are awaiting replanting.

Trustees Keith Gray and Christina Neitzke-Troike questioned if the Village should be responsible for these costs if Integral Construction or TRIA Architecture should have foreseen the conflict and was therefore responsible for the extra work.

“I want to know who messed up here,” Mayor George Yukich said. “If you do a job for someone and screw up, the person who hired you shouldn’t be responsible for the extra work costs.”

Trustees Beth Rodgers and Brian Burian, the only two trustees who had attended the staff meeting where initial approval was given for the orders, were both absent from the board meeting. 

“Staff approved the payments for the work, so we do have to pay it,” Holtz said. “We just don’t know who gave the approval, because neither of the people who were there are here to explain it.”

This created further debate, as Neitzke-Troike said she thought she should have been notified of the meeting as co-chair of the Parks & Recreation Committee. 

“I know I had a baby and missed a few meetings, but I would have appreciated an email letting me know this was happening before this week,” she said, also drawing into question why Burian (a member of the Community & Economic Development Committee) had been included in the meeting and she had not.

Village Manager Anne Marie Gaura noted that in order for all three trustees to be included in future meetings with the park, the meetings would need to be made public and be announced in advance.

“We could make them public, if that’s what you want,” she said. “Though, if it were public and residents were attending, that could change the tone of the conversations.”

Rodgers, who was reached Friday, Nov. 30, said she was not at the meeting and had not seen the video of it yet, so couldn’t speak to anything discussed. Burian could not be reached for comment.

Eventually, the board voted to approve all three payments, as they had already been approved by staff but agreed to look into improving communications about meetings and who would be attending them.

One requested payment by Integral that was not approved related to costs for additional stone infill and clay removal at asphalt pavement areas. 

Because of complications with ground moisture, it was deemed by the project’s inspection engineers that some clay would need to be removed and replaced with stone in order for paving to be completed.

TRIA approved the work for an amount not to exceed $25,000, and some of the work has already been completed (though it has now been halted by inclement weather). The board was given a request to approve spending for the project up to $25,000 but was not given any receipts or copies of orders explaining how much money has already been spent on the work.

As a result, the board declined to take action on the item until more information was available. The trustees then agreed that they would reimburse Integral for the work that had already been done when the proper paperwork had been submitted, and pay for additional services once construction resumed. 

The cost of all pending change orders has been accounted for in the Heritage Park project budget. An amount of $200,000 was earmarked in the park contract approved this past July to be spent as needed on change orders.

Integral and TRIA did not respond to requests for comment.

Agreement for professional planning services

In addition to the Heritage Park approvals, the board also voted unanimously to approve a contract with GreenbergFarrow for professional planning services.

Assistant Planner Kyle McGinnis left the Village’s employment on Friday, Nov. 30, to take a new position. Since it will likely take a few months to replace him, GreenbergFarrow staff members will be made available to the Village in the interim to assist with planning tasks, including site plan reviews and variance proceedings. 

The $6,000 contract began on Thursday, Nov. 29 and is expected to last two to three months while a new full-time assistant planner is found. 

Coat driving taking place at Jewel-Osco, Village Hall

Gray noted that the Jewel-Osco at 14200 S. Bell Road is once again hosting a coat drive in conjunction with the Chicago Bears to benefit the Salvation Army. 

Coats are being collected through Feb. 1. The goal of the drive for the entire Chicago area is 25,000 coats.

Gray made a proposal to assist with the efforts by installing a collection box for coats, as well as other winter outerwear, at the Village Hall at 14240 W. 151st St. through the end of the year. 

The board agreed to the proposal. Further information was to be made available on the Village website and Facebook page as Gray coordinates the effort with the Salvation Army. All residents are encouraged to make a contribution at either the Jewel-Osco or Village Hall. Women’s and children’s coats are in greatest demand. 

Household safety tips

Gray also announced that the Public Services & Safety Committee has posted a list of common household safety tips regarding space heaters and Christmas decorations on the Village website and Facebook. All residents are encouraged to view them.

Safe winter driving

Residents are reminded to drive carefully during the winter months. Reduced speeds and increased stopping distance are strongly encouraged with snow and ice on the roads to prevent accidents. 

Furthermore, the Village issued a reminder that there is a 12-hour moratorium on street parking following all snowfalls of two inches or more. Vehicles in violation of this ban can be towed or ticketed.