An aerial view of the Maywood Park District’s headquarters at the corner of 9th Ave. and Madison St. | Google Earth
Friday, June 9, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
The Maywood Park District’s headquarters at the corner of 9th Avenue and Madison Street will get an extreme exterior makeover this summer. Construction is scheduled to start on June 19 and end by late September or early October, park district officials said.
The redesign includes the installation of pingpong and game tables, the resurfacing of the parking lot, the renovation of the outdoor garden, the installation of a flower bed island in the lot, brand new fencing, a new outdoor basketball court that could be converted into additional parking during the winter months, and a t-ball and soccer field designed for smaller children, among other improvements.
The park district board has secured Hitchcock Design Group as the lead architectural firm after an open bidding process. According to its website, Hitchcock has offices in Austin (Texas), Indianapolis, Chicago and Naperville.
The district has also identified a general contractor through an open bidding process. The park district board is expected to vote to hire the firm at its next meeting on June 13.
Toni Dorris, park district’s executive director, said that the district is waiting for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to sign off on sewer work that would be a prerequisite for the grounds improvements.
“We have storm sewers that have been collapsed for a quite a while and it makes no sense to build on top of something that’s messed up,” Dorris said.
“The storm sewers need to be fixed so we can put in brand new pavement, grass, drains and [other additions]. We want to make sure everything runs into the 9th Avenue storm system properly,” she said, adding that district should get approval from the MWRD sometime next week.
The roughly $500,000 project is fully funded, with half of the money coming a state grant that required matching funds.
The district secured a loan from Hinsdale Bank in order to match the grant amount, Dorris said. As a condition of securing the loan, the district embarked on a period of austerity, which included enacting significant budget cuts.
A photo of architectural drawings of a proposed $500,000 exterior rehab project of the Maywood Park District that is set to begin on June 19. | Michael Romain/VFP
An additional state grant, worth $1.62 million, will go to fund the rehabilitation of the district’s long-abandoned facility at 809 W. Madison St.
The grant had originally been given to the district in 2014 under former Gov. Pat Quinn. Shortly after he took office, though, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order suspending a range of “nonessential” state spending.
The suspended funding included the two grants that the park district had planned on putting toward renovating the 809 building and enhancing its grounds. Last year, however, the state freed up that funding.
The $1.62 million grant requires the park district to raise 10 percent, or $162,000, on its own in order to receive the total grant.
At the time when the grant money was received, the district had a limited period to raise the matching money, with officials embarking on an ambitious fundraising campaign that was ultimately suspended.
Park District Commissioner Terrance Jones said that the campaign, which entailed the district hosting small events and projects designed to raise the money, didn’t generate much revenue. Eventually, the deadline for raising the money expired.
The state has since granted the district a one-year extension. The district has until July 1, 2017 to come up with the money, Jones said.
“Prior to my arrival the district was having fundraisers to come up with that 10 percent so that they wouldn’t have to borrow the money, but once I got in there I realized that time was running out,” Dorris said. “Even if we had a fundraiser every week [the district would still be short of the matching amount].”
Dorris said that she recommended that the district seek out a single bank that would loan the district money to match the funding for both grants.
“If we have to pay something back, let’s pay for something that’s worthy of paying back,” Dorris said.
Dorris added that Hinsdale Bank has expressed interest in loaning the district the matching amount for the $1.62 million grant as well, but the lending process has been held up because an initial financial plan developed by the park district prior to her arrival did not budget for a sprinkler system.
“Hinsdale has stated that they want to help us but they need true numbers, because what we presented to them so far doesn’t include the cost of a sprinkler system,” Dorris said, adding that a sprinkler system in a building the size of 809 W. Madison could add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the construction budget.
The additional cost means that the district’s original plans for the building, which had included state-of-the-art conference rooms, computer labs and lounge areas, may likely need to be pared back.
Dorris said that the district holds regular meetings that are exclusively devoted to discussions about grants. The next grant-only meeting is on June 29, 6 p.m., at 921 S. Madison St. in Maywood. VFP
This article has been updated to correct for the location of the storm sewer system. Village Free Press regrets the error.