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posted: 5/31/2014 8:00 AM

Biggest Kane County forest project for 2014 might get more expensive

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The most expensive construction project in the Kane County Forest Preserve District's current budget might turn out to be much more expensive than planned.

A new natural resource facility at the Meissner-Corron Forest Preserve in unincorporated St. Charles is intended to be more of a seed storage building and field office for district staff members than a building for public use. With a budgeted cost of $1.2 million, it also has the biggest price tag on the list of 18 projects in the current budget year.

But when district staff put the project out to bid, only one contractor expressed interest. The company, Tri-State Enterprises, Inc., wanted $1.95 million to complete the design and construction of the new facility.

"The numbers came in a little high," said Jerry Culp, the district's director of planning and development.

Plan B involves extending the contracts of the engineers and architects who developed the concept plan for the building, at a cost of $52,000, to finish the entire design. Culp told forest commissioners this week he believes that might result in a bid process that sees both more bids and a lower cost. The district invited 12 contractors to bid the first time around. Most of them said they didn't have the time to complete both a full design and a construction project.

Culp said the goal of the final design is to make the structure a "net zero building." That means incorporating green techniques such as solar power and the reuse of rain water to an extent that it doesn't cost the district any money to operate the building.

The district will likely take a second shot at bidding out the project late next month.

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