Riverside Parks and Rec HQ project finally moving forward

Unforeseen expenses have pushed budget 61 percent higher

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By Bob Uphues


The Riverside Department of Parks and Recreation had hoped to cut the ribbon on a new headquarters facility, with room for its central office, a lobby/reception area, a multipurpose room for programming, a kitchen and new ADA-accessible bathrooms.

The village inked a $405,500 construction contract with F.H. Paschen and officials hoped at the time that the facility inside the former American Legion hall at 43 E. Quincy St. would largely be complete by the end of 2019. 

At the same time, the village engaged William Architects to design the renovation as well as renovations to the department's water tower space for $25,500.

Fast forward nearly a year and the simple demolition/buildout project officials once envisioned has gotten somewhat complicated – and more expensive.

Earlier this year, the Riverside Village Board approved a pair of contracts totaling about $52,000 to design and install a fire sprinkler and alarm system for the building, bumping the original $431,000 cost to about $483,000.

And, on Oct. 1, the Riverside trustees approved a trio of expenses that has now pushed the renovation of 43 E. Quincy St. to just over $695,000, a roughly 61-percent increase over the initial contracts approved in November 2019.

For now, the Riverside Department of Parks and Recreation remains in its home at the water tower in Centennial Park. While some interior demolition has been done at 43 E. Quincy St., the renovation hasn't started and is now not expected to be substantially complete until the end of 2020.

"I don't think we fully grasped the infrastructure work that was going to be needed," said Recreation Director Ron Malchiodi.

When Williams Architects came back with engineering and design plans for the build-out in late 2019, Malchiodi said, it became clear that the scope of work was going to change significantly.

Some additional expenses – such as a new heating and air-conditioning system and the fire sprinkler systems – were expected, said Malchiodi, but myriad building code requirements, accessibility-related upgrades and pandemic-related cost increases pushed the cost much higher.

When F.H. Paschen resubmitted its estimate based on the architect's plans, the cost had ballooned from $431,000 to nearly $735,000. As a result, the village reduced some of the scope of work to bring down the price. Bidding out the electrical work separately also saved some money.

As a result of the project cuts, the village is holding off on installing a kitchen and won't erect walls in the second-floor office area to create separate spaces for staff.

"Nothing in the public area was cut," said Malchiodi. "Our focus has been on programming space to serve the public."

The final phase of demolition and subsequent renovation was expected to kick off this week, said Malchiodi.

"According to Paschen, they still feel comfortable they can get it buckled down by the end of this year," said Malchiodi, who qualified that prediction by added that some finish work may remain due to ongoing supply chain delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When recreation staff are able to move their offices to the Quincy Street facility, work will begin at the water tower to convert the office and board room spaces into an open programming area.

The existing multipurpose room at the water tower will continue to house recreation programs while the new space will be used for early childhood programming, according to Malchiodi.

The new headquarters on East Quincy Street will also include a new multipurpose room, allowing the department to increase programming and offer space for special recreation programs through its membership in the West Suburban Special Recreation Association.

The move will also consolidate all of the department's personnel and equipment in one location. The recreation department presently stores vehicles and supplies at the water tower, downtown train station and in a decrepit garage behind the Riverside Township Hall.

The village of Riverside acquired the property at 43 E. Quincy St. in August 2019 for $207,000.

Email: buphues@wjinc.com Twitter: @RBLandmark

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Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Helen Vogel  

Posted: October 14th, 2020 12:11 PM

It's about time. The P & R department has always appeared to be the unwanted step child of the Village when it comes to housing. As far as all of the "unanswered questions?" I am sure you can find all of the answers in the minutes of the Village Board meetings.

Kevin Dan from Riverside  

Posted: October 13th, 2020 12:28 PM

I think the apparent gross mishandling of this taxpayer funded project compels some accountability and explanation from our village leadership. Specifically regarding the project approval process, bidding and inspection, cost projections, and whether village policies and procedures were followed in implementing this project. What happened here? This is not a good look for village government.

Valentina Cerceo Drenth from Riverside  

Posted: October 13th, 2020 12:10 PM

There are a lot of unanswered questions. Nothing has been cut to the public yet...We need more details. We're there multiple bids on this project? $300k for unexpected charges seems extreme. I hope the Landmark is diving into this a bit deeper.

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