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posted: 7/23/2013 5:30 AM

New downtown St. Charles parking lot will cost more

St. Charles council learns it's $50,000 short for VFW site

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Though all ears were tuned to anything City Administrator Brian Townsend might say about leaving St. Charles for a job in Schaumburg, it was the fate of the former VFW building that stole the spotlight Monday night.

Townsend is sticking to a code of silence until after the Schaumburg village board votes on his pending contract as the new village manager tonight. Word broke Friday of his decision to leave St. Charles when Schaumburg Village President Al Larson confirmed the village's plans to bring Townsend aboard.

Townsend is expected to stay with St. Charles until the end of August. One of the last projects he'll oversee is the conversion of the former VFW building at 119 N. Third St. into a new parking lot. The building itself will come down in a matter of days.

The demolition comes at a cost about $50,000 more than city officials expected. That leaves the budget for the project about $50,000 short to construct the actual parking lot.

City staff members presented a plan Monday night for a cheaper, patchwork parking lot project. The plan would leave the lot that already exists next to the VFW building the way it is except for a resurfacing. Then, a new, and slightly wider lot with more green space would be constructed and joined to the old lot. The result would be a bottlenecked parking lot at a savings of about $24,000.

Aldermen didn't like the sound of that. "Do it right," said Alderman Jim Martin.

But doing it right means spending an additional $50,000. The original $200,000 budget for the project was already coming from taxes collected through the special Red Gate Bridge levy.

Staff members said the lot could wait a year, but there is enough money in the fund to cover the cost of the lot now. And, if aldermen give final approval to the more expensive lot next week, then the parking lot would be ready in time for the popular upcoming Scarecrow Festival.

Aldermen agreed that is a good goal, previewing their final vote next week.

The long-term vision for the property is to construct another parking deck at the site. Aldermen agreed that plan is at least 10 years away from becoming reality.

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