Spending is underway for the most expensive project in Village of Winnetka history.
Village trustees approved on June 21 a $16.5 million contract with John DiMeo Brothers for construction work on the stormwater-improvement project at the northwest corner of Willow and Hibbard roads.
Working in conjunction with New Trier High School District 203 and the Winnetka Park District, the village plans to add 79 acre-feet — or 25.7 million gallons — of stormwater relief for west and northwest Winnetka.
Village Director of Engineering Jim Bernahl told trustees that the project is 48 percent of the Village’s multi-year stormwater campaign that has an expected budget of more than $79 million.
“Tonight the village is at a major milestone in its goal to provide a critical, long-term, permanent solution to the management of stormwater in Winnetka and I am pleased to present to you the first contract of many,” he said.
Stormwater storage facilities will be added to multiple locations on the project site. A 14.2-acre-feet underground basin will be installed on the far east end of Duke Childs Field, running parallel with Hibbard Road under the park’s open grassland.
A second underground storage unit, planned to be 6.5 acre feet, will go under “Little Duke,” a multi-sport field just south of the Winnetka Ice Arena.
A total of 48 acre feet of above-ground storage will go on the adjacent golf courses of the Winnetka Park District — 21.8 acre feet on the par 3 course and 36.5 acre feet within the 18-hole course.
DiMeo Brothers was one of three bidders for the construction phase, coming in with a $19.64 million bid. Bernahl said the Village worked with DiMeo to shave more than $4 million from the costs. Options requested by the Winnetka Park District brought the final contract amount to $16.51 million — $14.86 million owed by the Village and $1.66 million by the park district.
With engineering and other ancillary costs, including the purchase of the storm traps and a contingency buffer, the total projected Village spend for the Willow Road stormwater project is $22.28 million.
More than $18 million of the cost will be covered by grants, including a $16 million from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The rest of the funding ($3.45 million), according to village documents, will be moved over from the stormwater fund, which had a balance of $14.2 million to start the year.
The overarching project is a five-year campaign to improve stormwater maintenance across the village. The estimated cost of the project has shifted from $75 million to $79 million, and Trustee Bob Dearborn requested more detailed timelines for when the costs will hit, with the context that inflation and other factors will constantly disrupt projections.
“The village needs to know where this is going,” he said. “This is the biggest project ever in this town, cost-wise. We’ve got it under control at the moment, but the world is kind of upset down a little bit. … I think we can put some meat on the bones of this project going out several years.”
The Village’s work north of Willow Road is underway and precede efforts from the school district and park district next year.
The plans for the site also include $5.3 million in improvements to New Trier athletic facilities that are slated to begin in the summer of 2023. New Trier has pursued upgrades to its baseball and softball fields for nearly a decade, and under this project will add a softball field, modern backstops, improved parking and walking areas, and a new locker room and restroom structure.
The changes are not only meant to modernize the fields but also will mitigate longstanding safety concerns at Duke Childs, where the varsity baseball field abuts Willow Road and features outdated fencing that allows errant baseballs to travel into traffic and the field’s small parking lot.
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