Komarek School District 94 will break ground on a roughly $22 million overhaul of its North Riverside campus on June 8, the day after the village board is expected to approve its planned unit development application and vacate the portion of 13th Avenue that runs through the middle of the campus.
Village trustees agreed in principle to vacating 13th Avenue between 24th Street and the alley just north of the school at a meeting of the village board’s development committee on May 24. The North Riverside Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the school district’s construction plans at a meeting in April.
Prior to the village board’s vote to vacate 13th Avenue and hand ownership to the school district – which intends to permanently fence it off and use it as an outdoor recreation space for students – the village board will conduct a public hearing on the proposal, also on June 7.
North Riverside Public Works Director Tim Kutt recommended that the 13th Avenue water main, which runs along the west curb line and eventually will be enlarged and moved to the east curb line, be replaced before the school district completes its improvements there.
Kutt also suggested televising the sewer, which runs down the middle of 13h Avenue, to assess its condition so the village doesn’t have to dig up a newly improved play space if a problem arises later.
Trustee Jason Bianco, the chairman of the board’s development committee, suggested that the village obtain a promise from the school district to not only accommodate the village’s request to make any infrastructure repairs first, but also pay for them. The price tag for the water main work was estimated at about $300,000.
However, Komarek School Superintendent Todd Fitzgerald said village infrastructure repairs were never considered as part of its construction budget and that it did not have the money at this time to pay for such a project.
“It’s not that we’re unwilling to do it,” Fitzgerald said. “We just don’t have the funds. … We just don’t have the capacity to do so.”
Mayor Joseph Mengoni reminded trustees that any work involving 13th Avenue proper would not begin immediately. The first phase of construction will involve the demolition of a home the school district owns immediately to the west and then constructing a two-story addition to the west building.
Last week, the Komarek District 94 school board awarded nine contracts totaling about $18.3 million to an array of construction subcontractors, who will be managed by the district’s general contractor, Nicholas & Associates Inc.
Once that work is done, all of the classrooms in the old part of the west building will move into the new addition so that the old building can be renovated. Once the entire west part of the campus is finished, work will begin east of 13th Avenue.
The school district doesn’t anticipate making improvements to the vacated portion of 13th Avenue until the summer of 2022, giving village and school district officials time to work out any agreements regarding infrastructure improvements.