Making the municipal parking lot behind St. Charles City Hall more green will cost taxpayers more green, aldermen learned Monday night.
City officials have planned a redesign of the lot that joins city hall, the police station and the downtown fire station for at least four years. The idea is to provide more attractive green space to capitalize on the existing riverwalk that leads to Pottawatomie Park.
The lot is already heavily used during River Fest and Scarecrow Fest, but aldermen envision adding enough green space to transform the lot into more of a plaza where small public gatherings or public art displays can occur.
The city budgeted $830,000 for the improvements this year. That includes a $65,000 grant from Kane County's Riverboat Grant Fund. But when the project went out to bid, the low number came in $205,000 higher -- about $1.04 million.
Public Works Director Peter Suhr persuaded aldermen to move ahead with the project. He is working with an engineering consultant to cut out some of the bells and whistles and get the costs closer to the budgeted amount.
The team has come up with about $176,000 in cost savings so far, including the removal of some of the landscaping in the original plan.
Suhr also reminded aldermen that costs for the resurfacing of Tyler Road came back about $150,000 less than budgeted. That may leave a little wiggle room in the overall budget, allowing aldermen to feel more at ease with a project that is already projected to be over budget before any ground is broken.
Water main and storm sewer work also has to be done, allowing for money collected from city water bills to help pay for the parking lot upgrades.
Aldermen, sitting as a committee, gave the go-ahead for the project, but they still must vote as a full city council before construction can begin. Assuming no change of heart, the work will begin July 14 and finish in the fall before Scarecrow Fest begins.