Four firms have been selected as finalists for the role of construction manager on the project to renovate and expand Riverside-Brookfield High School. The four finalists include two large firms and two smaller firms. The large firms are Gilbane Building Company and McHugh Construction. The smaller firms are the Frederick Quinn Corporation based in Addison and Henry Brothers based in Hickory Hills.

Gilbane was the construction manager for work last summer on RB’s roof and other internal projects and has been providing unpaid advice to District 208 as the district formulated plans for the project prior to the March 21 referendum in which voters approved issuing $58.8 million in bonds to pay for the project. Gilbane also contributed $2,000 to the Citizens for RB committee that campaigned for the referendum.

McHugh was the construction manager for the recently completed renovation and addition to York High School in Elmhurst, where they worked with the architectural firm Wight and Company, which has done preliminary plans for RB.

Quinn was the construction manager at Lemont High School, another school that Wight worked on. Henry Brothers managed work at Glenbrook North and South High Schools according to District 208 business manager John Gibson.

The four finalists were chosen after a meeting last Saturday morning. Munching donuts at the 8:15 a.m. meeting were District 208 school board President Larry Hurst, the board’s Facilities Committee Chairman William McCloskey, board member Martin Crowley, Principal/Superintendent Jack Baldermann and five members of citizens advisory construction committee.

Members of the citizens group attending the meeting Saturday were Riverside Plan Commission Chair Karen Layng, Plan Commission member and architect David Lesniak, former Riverside trustee Jerry Buttimer and Riverside Preservation Commission members Christopher Robling and James Marciniak.

The entire school board will interview the four finalists at a public meeting on May 10 and hope to make their decision on May 15.

The meeting Saturday followed a 2.5-hour meeting April 18 between the District 208 school board and some members of the citizens group.

On Saturday, Layng, a partner in the Chicago law firm of Vedder, Price, Kaufman & Kammholz where she chairs the firm’s construction law practice group, and Lesniak, a project manger for Kenny Construction firm, gave the board members a tutorial about the ins and outs of construction management and suggested things the board should be aware of to keep the cost down. For example, they warned the board members to be aware of how some firms try to get away with double billing certain items.

“Those two, when they talk, you better listen to what they say,” said McCloskey. “You just sit back and listen to what they say. They’re aware of the tricks of the trade.”

While the meeting April 18 revealed some differences between the board and the citizens group both groups were feeling more comfortable in their relationship after Saturday’s meeting.

“[April 18] was the first time the whole board got to sit down with the advisory board,” said McCloskey. “I left Tuesday feeling good, and it was a long night. It was very apparent after Saturday that we were more on the same page. It was pretty productive.”

The citizens group pressed the board on April 18 to make their request for proposal (RFP) for a construction manager more specific. Friday the citizens group submitted to the district an addendum which would make the district’s RFP more specific. As of press time district officials were reviewing the addendum with their outside counsel.

Herbst acknowledged that working with the citizens committee is not always easy and takes time> However, he said the free expertise that the citizens committee offers is well worth the bother.

“It’s a little more of a burden, a little more red tape,” said Herbst. “They are a pain in the neck, e-mailing things back and forth. But it’s getting more people involved. How can that be bad?”