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City Council: Officials likely to seek facilities assessment survey

The City of Lockport is looking to survey the conditions of its facilities to help guide future decisions to make improvements.

Officials came to a consensus at the Jan. 3 Committee of the Whole meeting to place a proposal seeking a city facilities assessment survey on the Lockport City Council’s next consent agenda.

The scope of the survey, if approved, will include Lockport’s public works facility, police department and Central Square Building. The buildings in question are to be surveyed by BKV Group, the lowest of three bidders for the project.

City Administrator Ben Benson said when the City took over the rest of Central Square Building—after Lockport Township moved out—and started looking at other city-owned buildings, it was determined that the buildings could use improvements.

“We’d like to have an architect come in and review the facilities,” Benson said. “We have some things in the budget now that we’ve approved in 2018, but we wanted to instead of spending 30 or 40,000 thousand on pipe installations in this building, we want to make sure that an architect reviews what these facilities assessments are and what the needs would be.”

Lockport’s public works facility is about 10 years old and has a structural issue, according to Benson. The site demonstrates a need for improvements.

Lockport’s police department is about 20 years old, and it has its share of challenges. The same effect holds true for Central Square Building whereby portions of the facility are more than 100 years old.

Surveying these facilities is meant to help guide officials in determining what action to take in the next 10-15 years.

“We want to make sure we update maintenance plans that we’re doing,” Benson said. “We need to know what needs to be fixed from a third-party perspective, not just a vendor that works on our air conditioners that recommends things.”

Alderman Jason VanderMeer questioned why these projects were not rolled into the City’s Capital Improvements Plan.

“We don’t consider building maintenance to be capital improvement plans,” Benson said after the meeting.

To date, the City has identified several CIP upgrades that mainly focus on bridges, roads, and water and went on to identify sources of funding through the year’s end.

Officials will be presented information on the City’s Capital Improvements Program, a set of short- and long-range plans at their Jan. 17 meeting. Upgrades slated for 2019-2027 will be outlined along with sources of funding to advance the improvements.

“Basically, on the 10-year [Capital Improvements] Plan, [there’s] about a $10 million shortfall on the street side and about $4 million on the water, but if we shift the projects or delays things, then it’s not as necessary to complete the current list that you see,” Benson said.

The City may need to explore various options to generate new revenues to invest in facilities improvements, Benson added. The City is in the process of determining what, if any, current funding they can dedicate toward its Capital Improvements Plan. Mayor Steven Streit suggested that other options could include generating new dollars by creating a gas tax or issuing a bond.

The proposal, if approved at the council’s Jan. 17 meeting, will require officials to allot $21,400 to satisfy this aim. An assessment of findings could become available as early as June.

Farrell, Division bike paths discussed

Also at Lockport’s Committee of the Whole Meeting, the council took time to discuss the Farrell/Briggs/Division bike path, a project with history dating back to 2010.

Around that time, the City received funding through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program.

The project stalled over the years with cost estimates coming in higher than projected, and the bids were rejected at the time.

Recently, the City learned that the Will County Department of Transportation’s 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan will be providing funding for the reconstruction of Division Street from Briggs Street to Cedar Road, with a bicycle accommodation to be constructed in roughly 2026-2030.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has been working with the City to determine how to proceed.

VanderMeer questioned the logic behind advancing the project and said he senses that these bike paths are not what residents view as priorities.

“It’s not a bad project, but if I’m going to vote, I’m voting against it,” he said.

Alderman Jim Petrakos touted the fact that Lockport already has the grant and said it helps that the City doesn’t have to work from scratch to make this project possible.

“I think Farrell is an important one because the [Lockport Township High] school did transfer land over to us, so that connection gets done, and it’s for the students,” he said.

Lockport’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant currently has $412,000 remaining. The City has spent $44,000 on engineering, to date.

Director of Public Works Brent Cann said staff wants the City to go back to the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, request the same Briggs and Farrell portions, and ask them to renew the grant with a new 80-20 match based on the new construction costs.

Originally, the City intended to proceed with the construction of three bike paths. The plan, however, is to focus on the improvements needed along Briggs Street and Farrell Road, which is estimated to cost $614,000. The remaining bike path is to be built by Will County and its Division Street reconstruction project slated for a 2026-2030 schedule.

Officials came to a consensus directing the City to notify IDOT of its intent to commit to the project with a reduced scope and less funding obligations. What that means is the City will need to reapply for the funding of the project through the ITEP process.

The City still needs to do a bid letting and annex a portion of Briggs to make the project possible. The matter is to be reviewed again at the council’s Jan. 17 meeting, at which point more firm costs for the project will be presented.

Sexual harassment policy updated

During Lockport’s City Council Meeting, officials amended the City’s sexual harassment policy.

The measure aligns the current policy with Senate Bill No. 402, a new State of Illinois law that went into effect November 2017. It stipulates that sexual harassment is not allowed in the workplace and goes on to offer details on how to report an allegation, prohibit retaliation for reporting allegations, outline consequences of a violation of the prohibition, and identify consequences for making a false report.

With sexual harassment in the workplace making headlines across the nation in recent months, the new law adds protections by extending the scope of prohibitions, increasing penalties imposed on sexual harassers, providing new means of recourse for victims to utilize, and defining actionable measures that can be utilized absent of an employment relationship.

This item received no discussion and went on to be unanimously approved by officials under the consent agenda.

Round it up

A brief recap of action and discussion from the Jan. 3 Lockport City Council meeting:

  • Officials granted a proposal for development engineering consultant services to Chamlin & Associates Professional Engineering Services.

  • A motion to adopt a resolution allotting Motor Fuel Tax funds in the amount of $1 million was approved by the council to account for the costs of road salts needed for the 2017-2018 winter season and a 2017 resurfacing and patching project.

  • The City of Lockport approved amendment No. 3 to the cell tower site lease agreement with AT&T, originally formed in 1989. Council action extends the terms of the pact through March 2023 with five five-year renewal terms thereby stretching the lease through March 2048.

  • The council authorized an IDOT MFT Maintenance Engineering Contract to be used in conjunction with the City Master Services Agreement with Christopher Burke Engineering.

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