An group of high-powered Riversiders are lending their expertise to District 208 to help the district effectively manage the renovation of Riverside-Brookfield High School should a bond referendum funding the project be approved by voters on March 21.
Seven members of the group, some of whom had previously expressed some misgivings about aspects of the district’s process, met for about an hour Monday night with Principal/Superintendent Jack Baldermann, District 208 school board President Larry Herbst and District 208 Business Manager John Gibson.
The group included Riverside Historical Preservation Commission member Chris Robling, who previously served as a member of RB’s facilities review committee; Riverside Plan Commission Chair Karen Layng, architect Diane Legge Kemp, restaurant consultant and Riverside Recreation Commission member Larry Flam; developer and former Riverside trustee Jerry Buttimer; engineer and Riverside Preservation Commission member James Marciniak; and construction manager and Riverside Plan Commission member David Lesniak. Susan Chapman is also a member of this ad hoc group, but was not at the meeting Monday night.
“We’re trying to help the board and the administration do their due diligence to make the construction process effective,” said Flam. “We prepared a document with just some suggestions for the board and administration regarding best practices for going forward with something like this.”
Flam said that the document is not yet completed; when it is, it will be released to the press.
Baldermann said that he was happy to have the input.
“I thought it was great,” said Baldermann. “They’re a really talented group. I really appreciated their willingness to help the district. This group of people brings a lot of expertise to the table.
“We want them to collaborate and we want them to be involved in the process for the duration,” he added. “Ultimately the decisions are the [District 208] board’s. The board will take what they have to say seriously.”
The group brings a lot of expertise and experience with construction management. Layng is a partner in the Chicago law firm Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholz, where she chairs the firm’s construction law practice group, according to the firm’s web site.
Flam has worked on the building and design of restaurants for large restaurant chains such as Lettuce Entertain You. Legge Kemp is a distinguish architect with experience in historical renovation.
The discussions Monday evening focused on what the district should look for in hiring a construction manager, should the bond issue pass, and how to manage a large construction process.
The district has recently put out a request for proposal to construction management firms and is considering bids from six companies to manage the project should the referendum pass.
Some in the group had previously expressed concerns about how the district came up with the financial projections for the RB project and also had concerns about ability of the district to oversee a large, expensive and complicated project.
The advisory group wants to help the district avoid cost overruns and other problems that often plague construction projects. They have also advised the district to consider guaranteed maximum payment contracts rather than cost-plus contracts to limit the district’s financial risk in the project.
Robling said that he has decided to vote in favor of the referendum.
“Personally I’m voting for the referendum,” said Robling. “I hope the referendum passes?”sooner rather than later. That’s me speaking for me.”
Flam said that the group supports the renovation and addition project.
“All the people who signed this letter are in support of the project,” said Flam on Tuesday morning.
Flam was happy that the district was willing to listen to the group.
“I attended two forums,” said Flam. “I had a lot of questions. We had some concerns about the process. It’s really just interested citizens in support of the high school, and we just want some feedback. Any time a village or a school board can tap into the expertise of the citizens that is a good thing.”