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Tinley Park-Park District officials seek cost reductions for Veterans Park improvements

Nearly a year after anticipation in the community arose for Veterans Park improvements to begin, the Tinley Park-Park District looks to identify cost reductions to help propel the project forward.

When a low bid of $1.2 million was read in August 2016, it resulted in the Park Board taking action to rebid the project.

The matter was last reviewed by park board officials at their March 16 meeting.

“We opened bids for the project,” said John Curran, executive director of the Tinley Park-Park District. “It was on the agenda to be discussed. We had a $600,000 budget. The low bid came in too high at $925,000. We didn’t have a lot of discussion. We wanted to see where cost overruns were.”

Curran said he is told that he’ll soon have that information.

“We were looking at doing construction in two phases with a budget of $600,000 [in year one] and 500,000 the next year,” Curran said. “Many of the things we wanted to do in 2017 brought the costs up. We evaluated whether we would need to push [some of the costs] over to 2018.”

That’s when park district officials decided to start trying to reduce project costs by switching out materials for less expensive ones.

“If the project is awarded [to George’s Landscaping] in May, they’d start in June,” Curran said. “There’s no guarantee. That’s when we’d close off the park.”

The project features a number of upgrades, including a new playground, redesign of the Veterans Memorial, a picnic shelter and drainage. Curran said the latter is meant to address flooding issues. The land in question serves in large part as a detention, he said.

“The other 10 percent is above the floodplain,” Curran said. “We’re trying to maximize the amount of water held on that site.”

Other improvements include efforts to relocate the playground from its south center position within the park to the southwest corner on elevated ground. The tennis and basketball courts will be housed in the northeast.

Curran said these moves are also necessary if the park district intends to address the flooding issues that occur.

The project also contains plans to incorporate a walking path around the park, a baseball diamond and backstop improvements.

Veterans Park was first built in the 1960s. Since that time, it has seen little change.

Curran said Park District officials now face tighter regulations they must follow to remain in compliance with codes set forth by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

Curran said it’s important to stay on top of these regulations because “[Metropolitan Water Reclamation District] updates their codes on an annual basis. They don’t require you to make changes when they make a change. When we make improvements, we have to follow the new requirements.”

The Park district has since hired a wetlands engineer to satisfy this aim.

Curran said he thinks residents will be satisfied with the park improvements once they’re completed not just from a water reclamation standpoint, but also from a recreational viewpoint.

Tinley Park resident Kevin Chmura said he thinks highly of the Park District’s plans to improve Veterans Park.

“I like the proposed redevelopment and beautification plans for the park along with updated features and enhanced landscaping including more trees and flowers, “ Chmura said. “Unfortunately, most of the work in the proposed plan was scheduled to be completed in a year to 18 months from the unveiling of the plan early last year. Instead, no work and more delays.”

Chmura said he looks forward to seeing the day when the project is completed.

“We live in a great neighborhood with a lot of families,” Chmura said. “I would be pleasantly surprised to see the project completed in a timely basis so everyone could enjoy the park. With a name like Veterans Park, you would think that the Park District would be proud to showcase this park in our village and make the redevelopment a priority.”

“I have lived down the street from Veterans Park for more than 25 years and while other parks receive new equipment and landscaping improvements, this park has been forgotten by park district officials for too long,” Chmura said. “As a park dedicated to our veterans, the park area and memorial are in dire need of a drastic makeover and redevelopment. In the meantime, I read that a new slide is being added to the water park this spring near the Park District's main building, while we continue to wait for improvements to our local park.”

The timeline for improvements—if it continues on this path—will put this project in the hands of a new Park Board in May and a new executive director in June.

Curran said residents can rest assured the Park District will keep this project on its radar.

“When we’re looking at doing any park development or improvement, we want to make it fun and safe and make it meet all the local requirements,” Curran said. “Right now, if we’re able to work everything out, this project should start before I leave. [Superintendent of Parks] Ryan Veldman has been involved in every facet of this project.”

Curran added that structures are being put in place to ensure the project doesn’t hit another snag.

An update on Veterans Park improvements is scheduled for the next Park Board meeting, which is to be held Wednesday, May 3.

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