The auditorium at Blythe Park School will be converted in 2023 to a multipurpose space divided by a moveable wall. Part of the space will serve as the school’s new library, while the rest will be a music room. The existing library on the main floor will become the school’s new art room. | FILE

Next summer, the Blythe Park School auditorium, part of the local landmark building’s original 1948 Perkins & Will design, will be turned into a multipurpose room as part of a larger renovation project that will also including redoing the school’s parking lots and replacing the school’s boiler. 

At their Dec. 21 meeting, the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education voted unanimously to award a $3,535,800 construction contract to Willowbrook-based Troop Contracting to do the work.

Troop submitted the second lowest of the seven bids the school district received for the Blythe Park project. The low bidder, Romeoville-based Integral Construction, reportedly did not have good references. Ramesh Nair, the district’s construction consultant, said that a reference check indicated that in some past projects, Integral had issues with completing projects on time, paying liquidated damages and labor issues.

Even though Integral’s bid was nearly $200,000 less than Troop’s, Nair recommended that the district choose Troop, which provided good references. The Blythe Park project must be done on a tight timeline next summer. Nair noted that Troop’s bid was less than his estimate of $3,650,000 for the project. 

“This was an excellent bid,” Nair told the school board. “We’re getting a contractor whose references panned out, and it’s still below our budget.” 

State law requires school districts to choose the lowest responsible bidder, not simply the lowest bidder. 

Work done last summer at L.J. Hauser Junior High School was marred by problems and came in over budget. 

“We’ve had issues with contractors in the fairly recent past,” said District 96 school board President Dan Hunt in agreeing with going with a company that had good references.

The Blythe Park School’s auditorium will become a multipurpose space with a movable wall separating a music room from the library. The current first-floor library will become an art room.

Both the north and south parking lots at Blythe Park School will be redone as part of the work next summer. The parking lots will get new asphalt pavement, new roadway/driveway pavement, new sidewalks, new concrete pavement, new permeable pavers and new striping.

Two new boilers will replace the existing boiler, which is approximately 15 years old. The new boilers will be approximately 10 to 15 more efficient than the existing boiler.

Tuckpointing for Hollywood School

The school board also on Dec. 21 unanimously approved awarding a $36,400 contract to its architectural firm, DLA Architects, for design work and construction documents related to tuckpointing work that will be done at Hollywood School in Brookfield next summer.

The tuckpointing work at Hollywood may have to done working around the large butterfly murals that were attached to the brick exterior on the southwest part of the school’s in 2019 as part of an artist-in-residence project. 

“Some people like it, some people don’t,” Nair said of the butterfly mural. “But we’ll definitely save it. I mean, our plan is not to take it down as such. We will work around it.”

The school board’s facilities committee chairman, Joel Marhoul, said that the architect will weigh in on how to handle the butterfly art.

“It will be something for the architect to think about and give recommendations to, and then they have to call masons they know for ideal ways to address it in a way that’s cost-efficient and doesn’t remove them or wreck them,” Marhoul said. “It’s part of the design process, essentially.”