By Bob Uphues
A vacant single-family home at 4006 Blanchan Ave., owned by the village of Brookfield since 2013, will be leveled soon after trustees voted unanimously on May 11 to award a $26,125 demolition contract to Tinley Park-based Bechstein Construction Corporation, which submitted the lowest of five bids received by the village.
According to the demolition contract, the work will include abating asbestos, which was discovered in exterior siding that's presently covered over by aluminum siding. A small amount of asbestos was also found inside the home.
Once that's done, the house will be demolished and the foundation will be removed and backfilled before being covered with earth and seeded to lawn. Costs related to the demolition will be paid out of the Ogden Avenue Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District fund, in which the property is located.
The village used $50,000 in TIF funds to buy 4006 Blanchan Ave. seven years ago.
There's still no plan for the property's use in the future, but Village Manager Timothy Wiberg said on May 11 that he hoped it could one day either be part of a larger development in that area or be used for commuter parking.
Community Development Director Ross Klicker told the Landmark that it might be possible to connect the Blanchan Avenue property with a new off-street parking area scheduled to be built this summer as part of a project to improve the Congress Park Metra station area.
Part of the village plan calls for a commuter parking lot accommodating about 20 vehicles in the short section of Burlington Avenue that sits west of DuBois Boulevard. The new parking area is being created in case the existing commuter lot at 4000 DuBois Blvd., owned by the village, is redeveloped in the future.
The Blanchan Avenue property could provide even more commuter parking and, while there is no plan on the table to do so right now, that lot likely could be connected to the Congress Park Station via a walking path along railroad right-of-way.
"As far as connecting the property to the commuter lot to the train station, we have not gotten that far yet, but we do believe we could work out a lease agreement with the railroad for an access way, if needed," Klicker said in an email.
Meanwhile, some of the Congress Park Station area improvements have begun. Crews have poured a new sidewalk along the south side of Burlington Avenue west of DuBois and have installed a concrete pad for two covered bike shelters.
The bike shelter improvements are being funded largely through two grants, one from the state and one from the Regional Transportation Authority. The bike racks should be installed and ready for use by the end of May.
Later this summer a roughly $342,000 project will begin addressing the Congress Park Station, tunnel and new parking area. Village Planner Elyse Vukelich said the firm the village has hired to design the improvements, Hitchcock Design Group, is surveying the station and tunnel to see what upgrades are possible there.
They could include reroofing the shelter and replacing light fixtures, hand rails and trash receptacles. Tunnel improvements are likely to include new light fixtures and stripping and repainting the tunnel walls and ceiling.
Construction of the parking lot will also include landscaping improvements in that area. The work is being partially funded through a $150,000 Community Development Block Grant. The rest of the cost will be assigned to the Congress Park TIF.
Other planned improvements, such as a brick paver plaza in front of the station entrance will have to wait until the BNSF Railroad rebuilds the blighted retaining wall of the Metra station on the south side of the rail embankment, facing Burlington Avenue.
That work likely won't happen until 2022, at the earliest.