Flossmoor is moving forward with Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers for design engineering on the Berry Lane drainage improvements project, despite the misgivings of some trustees who say they would have preferred more choices for the project.
The village board voted unanimously during its regular meeting Dec. 7 to approve an agreement to pay Baxter & Woodman no more than $164,300 for services on this phase of the project. The total construction cost for the project is expected to be $1.64 million.
Berry Lane is one of several areas in the village where resident complaints of flooding during storms have increased in recent years. It is one of several spots to be addressed by the Flossmoor Road viaduct drainage improvements project.
Public Works Director John Brunke noted in a report the contract was “higher than a normal storm sewer infrastructure project” because of Army Corps of Engineers grant requirements, which require additional reports, project steps, oversight and plan submittal. It is expected to cost roughly $50,000 more than the project typically would.
“Basically, being an Army Corps project, there’s a lot more involved than there normally would be,” Brunke told the board.
Flossmoor was notified earlier this year it was selected by ACOE to receive a $1.5 million grant related to the Flossmoor Road viaduct drainage improvements project, with the village obligated to put $500,000 toward the project. Officials settled on the Berry Lane portion of the work as the best fit. The village’s matching funds are to go toward the balance on project construction and ACOE’s project management costs, Brunke wrote, but the village’s matching costs obligation does not include design engineering.
Mayor Paul Braun said he was disappointed to learn of the additional costs, but opined that the benefits outweigh that concern.
“I’m not thrilled about having to pay extra fees for a project because of extra requirements,” Braun said. “I’m not going to get too excited about it. They more than made up for it with the grant.”
Baxter & Woodman has already completed initial work for the project. And while the village solicited requests for qualifications from various engineering firms, according to his report, Brunke told the board because of the Army Corps’ “tight timeline” staff cannot go with another company. There is simply not enough time to conclude review, conduct interviews and negotiate terms to meet a Feb. 8 deadline to submit pre-50% project plans, he said.
Trustee Perry Hoag asked why the timeline could not have been anticipated, giving the village more time to go through a selection process. He said he also felt uneasy about being asked to support a project Baxter & Woodman essentially already started.
“I feel like we are sort of trapped into supporting the project,” Hoag said. “Fortunately, it’s a good project.”
Trustee George Lofton said having a better handle on the timeliness also could have ensured a project like this was available to a more diverse list of potential bidders.
“We need to make sure that’s available, particularly for minority engineering companies,” Lofton said. “In the future, we need to manage our inclusion process a little better.”
Brunke said they did not start the process until voters passed a $10 million bond issue referendum the village put on the Nov. 3 ballot. The intent was to get a pool of firms the village can work with in the future, but the timeline was set by ACOE within the past month, so it was not possible for this project, he said.
Trustees Diane Williams, Joni Bradley-Scott and Brian Driscoll shared similar concerns regarding the bidding process but said they ultimately supported the project itself.
“I’m really excited for this project to begin,” Driscoll said. “Given our great need, I think that outweighs other considerations.”
In other business, the village board voted unanimously to approve a 2020 tax levy for Flossmoor at $6.71 million, which marks a 1.44% increase over the 2019 extension. The numbers are in line with discussions the board had in November about its estimated levy.
With the Flossmoor Public Library’s portion, the total levy is $8.17 million.