Wilmette Park Board members expressed frustration with higher-than-expected bids to renovate the Lakeview Center, but the feelings were not strong enough to hold back the project.
The commissioners discussed ideas to slim down the renovations, but in the end on Monday, July 11, voted 5-1 — with Lindsey Anderson absent and Cecilia Clarke in dissent — to push the project forward with a $1.64 million price tag, a number about $230,000 over an estimation in May and about $550,000 over an initial budget in October 2021.
Park District Executive Director Steve Wilson introduced the discussion by saying that the increases are market-driven. The project’s construction manager, Frederick Quinn Construction, told the Lakefront Committee in May that prices are increasing across the industry and nationwide.
The board on Monday considered a few ways to lower the costs, such as reducing the scope of the deck renovation and not installing an interior sliding glass wall. Removing the deck work entirely and the wall addition from the plans would have resulted in a cost reduction of about $358,000, according to district documents.
A majority of commissioners, though, believed the full scope of the project was worth the added costs. Multiple commissioners pointed to 2022 cost savings — such as a lack of spending on a pickleball facility and Gillson Park improvements.
“Given the long neglect of this facility, I’ve always been of the opinion that we should do it once and do it right and then forget it for a generation,” Board President Mike Murdock said. ” … In terms of the global picture, we can certainly afford to spend money on these facilities.”
The Lakeview Center was built in 1989 and has yet to see significant renovations, the district has said. Per previous reporting from The Record, the improvement plan consists of three stages — the lower level, the upper level and the exterior — to modernize and reconfigure the building’s spaces and aesthetics.
The plan drew the ire of a group of Wilmette residents who contend the park district is upgrading the facility to increase its usage and capacity, which they say will add congestion to the park.
The project will not increase the building’s footprint; however, it will increase interior usable space by 21 percent and exterior space (the decking) by 40 percent, according to the original plans.
Downgrading the deck work to just a rebuild with no expansion would save the district $187,870, while no deck work would shave $309,985 off the bid price. Clarke advocated for a reduced scope of the deck renovations, while commissioners were in agreement that the sliding glass wall ($48,346) should stay.
The commissioners also discussed if a second family bathroom was necessary. The plan includes the addition of a family bathroom to complement men’s and women’s bathrooms on each level. Commissioner Patrick Duffy worried that a family bathroom on the second level, because there will be no staff offices, would endanger children using the facility. No other commissioner expressed similar concerns.
The Record is a nonprofit, nonpartisan community newsroom that relies on reader support to fuel its independent local journalism.
Subscribe to The Record to fund responsible news coverage for your community.
Already a subscriber? You can make a tax-deductible donation at any time.