Three major public facility projects were discussed at the April 23 Committee of the Whole Meeting. These projects include redevelopment of the Ravinia Fire Station (Fire), relocation of the Senior Center, and expansion of the Highland Park Public Library (Library). As part of the City’s annual budget process, major infrastructure projects are programmed within a 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The various capital projects being evaluated by the City are part of a newly created 10-year CIP in an effort to meet the short and long term needs of the community.
The City Council reviewed cost estimates for the noted major public facility projects in conjunction with other major City infrastructure projects including road and bridge reconstruction. The Council unanimously agreed to prioritize the Ravinia Fire Station redevelopment due to the public safety services provided by that aging station. This project would begin in 2021. The Council provided direction to pursue a short and long-term parking and traffic study surrounding the Library to be completed in 2018. In addition, options for Library improvements were discussed including renovations within the existing Library footprint along with the possibility of phasing in an expansion on the Library over a ten-year period. The possible relocation of the Senior Center and the City’s Youth Services program to the Highland Park Country Club and an update to the banquet facility were also considered. The City Council will continue the discussion of all facility needs at a future Committee of the Whole meeting.
“Public safety, infrastructure investment and fiscal stability are core priorities of the City. We are always looking for opportunities to share space and increase efficiencies in an effort to best serve the community,” stated Mayor Nancy Rotering. “We know that it is not possible to complete all of these projects at one time. To that end, we are carefully analyzing our current status and identifying our goals with an eye towards maintaining a balanced operating budget and sustainable fiscal health.”
Additional background information about each of the projects below is located on the City website at www.cityhpil.com.
Ravinia Fire Station Redevelopment – Estimated cost $7,500,000
At the April 23, 2018 Committee of the Whole meeting, City Council confirmed that the Ravinia Fire Station redevelopment shall be prioritized and planned within the 5-year CIP for replacement in 2021 or sooner contingent upon funding availability.
The Ravinia Fire Station (Station #32), constructed in 1929 as a sub-station, has undergone several major remodels over the years. These remodels were necessary to accommodate changes in service delivery.
As public safety is one of the City’s top priorities, the Department has outgrown the current station, and there are operational challenges. There are efficiencies to be gained by advancing with the construction of a new fire station, which will be compatible with the neighborhood in terms of design and scale, and will provide appropriate landscaping and lighting in line with the neighborhood.
Senior Center Relocation to the Highland Park Country Club – Estimated Cost $10,500,000 (Option A) or $7,000,000 (Option B)
At the April 23, 2018 Committee of the Whole meeting, two options were presented for City Council consideration. The cost estimate for Option A is $10.5M and would include site and parking improvements, existing building upgrades, a building renovation and an addition. The cost estimate for Option B is $7M and removes the proposed addition which decreases the cost estimate from Option A by $3,000,000. The City is evaluating the possibility of phasing improvements within the Highland Park Country Club in order to spread infrastructure costs over a longer period.
The City’s Senior Services Division is currently housed at the Highland Park Senior Center at 54 Laurel Avenue. The facility is a renovated 1929 residential property that has presented several service challenges including parking limitations, accessibility issues and limited space for programming. The Senior Center offers more than 900 classes, events, and services throughout the year to nearly 1,000 members. According to the US Census Bureau 2016 American Community Survey population and demographic estimates, 45% of the City’s population is age 50 years and older.
Library Expansion - $13,000,000 Plus Library Parking Lot Expansion - $1,000,000; Interim Operational Upgrades Option Only - $1,000,000
At the April 23, 2018 Committee of the Whole Meeting, the City Council discussed options available for Library improvements including undertaking the proposed expansion project in phases and also the option to complete near term interim operational upgrades. The interim operational upgrades include dedicated story time space; more community gathering locations; consolidating the film and music section; flexible program space; additional space being created in the lower level; and improvements to the Brenner Room for quiet reading and work space. The City Council requested further information on the possibility of constructing the library expansion in phases and also requested that a parking study be completed to evaluate library commuter needs under current conditions and possible future conditions, should an expansion occur. The City Council will review the results of the parking study and the information obtained regarding the opportunity to phase improvements at a future City Council meeting.
The consideration to expand the Library dates back to 2006 when FGM, a Chicago-based design firm, was hired to review the current library facility and determine future space needs. Designs for the addition were presented to the City’s Design Review Commission in May 2009. Although the project was suspended at that time due to the nationwide economic downturn, the needs of the Library have continued to increase. The library was last expanded in 1976. Over the 40 years since that addition, the role of public libraries has evolved and grown. According to Library representatives, 21st century libraries have transformed into community centers providing spaces for community collaboration, content creation, and knowledge development, in addition to their traditional role of providing information and materials. The project under consideration is an effort to improve efficiencies and provide the highest level of services while considering the need to address aging infrastructure, sustainability and internal and external space constraints.
Following a needs assessment conducted by Williams Architects in 2017 for the Highland Park Library, conceptual architectural designs were prepared for a possible expansion of the Library, which is significantly smaller than those in its peer communities.
Firehouse Youth Center Relocation
The Firehouse Youth Center is a renovated fire station, which was relocated adjacent to the water tower off Green Bay Road. The facility includes an activity center, study room, counseling area, meeting room and staff offices. The City’s Youth Center provides educational and recreational afterschool services to approximately twenty middle school students for 3 hours per day during the school year. The City’s Youth Center will need to be relocated in July 2019 when the Karger Recreation Center redevelopment is anticipated to begin. The City is evaluating options for relocation of the Youth Services program.
For additional information on these projects, please contact the City Manager’s Office at 847.926.1000 or visit cityhpil.com.