Kenilworth, News

Grant-program delays push back Kenilworth’s shoreline plans

Trustees favor lower protection plan of approximately $1 million

As they await word from Washington, D.C., about a $1 million grant that could fund much or all of project costs, Kenilworth village trustees agreed Monday not to award bids for their shoreline protection project.

Instead, they authorized Village Manager Patrick Brennan — in one of his final duties before leaving Kenilworth — to negotiate costs with the apparent low bidder.

Trustees also told Brennan they favor building the more basic — and less expensive — of two shoreline protection designs from consultant GZA Geoenvironmental, one costing under $1 million. That consensus solidified after trustees mulled how well each design could protect the village’s decommissioned water plant from erosion via lake water level, storms and wave action.

Brennan told the board Kenilworth applied last summer for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and originally expected to hear back in March. Delays mean FEMA might not announce grants until this fall. Since the grant program excludes any projects already underway, Brennan advised trustees to reject both construction bids received earlier this year. Instead, he said they could slow the project’s timeline by negotiating with John Keno and Co., the Chicago-based low bidder.

The Keno bid set building the basic design to protect the building and Kenilworth Beach would cost $992,893. It would create a protective line of armor rocks extending straight out into the lake. This design, nicknamed “the I” for its shape, would protect both the beach and water plant, GZA representative Dan Veriotti told the board via video call.

For some trustees, aesthetics figured into rejecting the other design. Trustees Christopher Ottsen and Walter Kelly worried that the more expensive design, nicknamed “The T” because of the crossbar of armor rocks topping the I section, could block beach visitors’ views of the lake. Trustees also were wary of its cost; Keno and Co.’s bid estimated a $1.3-$1.4 million price tag, depending on the time of year when work might start. 

Ottsen suggested that the water plant building, far from needing the greater protection of that design, could withstand what Lake Michigan storms and beach erosion could hit it with. 

“I’m not saying the waves don’t carry a lot of energy, but Tinucci (Woodhouse Tinucci, another project consultant) said the building is a tank,” he said, adding that concerns about safety from waves on the building’s promenade were “a little overboard. It’s hard to say it’s unsafe for the public to be on that promenade deck.”

After judging how successfully the basic design protects against beach erosion, Kenilworth could always add the crossbar structure, if the board and staff decide it’s necessary, Ottsen said.

“The ‘I’s have it,” Village President Cecily Kaz deadpanned after trustees made the decision. 

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Kathy Routliffe

Kathy Routliffe reported in Chicago's near and North Shore suburbs (including Wilmette) for more than 35 years, covering municipal and education beats. Her work, including feature writing, has won local and national awards. She is a native of Nova Scotia, Canada.

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