Wheaton examining costs of downtown plan

The Wheaton City Council will work with an Oakbrook Terrace-based firm to analyze the cost of its estimated $52 million downtown strategic and streetscape plan.

Suzanne Fitch was the only council member to oppose working with CCS International to define the costs and scope of proposed construction. Councilman John Prendiville was absent.

The firm will be paid about $82,000 to prepare cost estimates for three options the council will evaluate before pursuing construction. The money will be taken from $200,000 set aside in the city's 2015-16 budget for funding the downtown plan's design process.

Before voting, the council was presented with staff's recommendation for prioritizing work. In the next 12 months, staff members hope to focus on the public infrastructure components of the plan while continuing to identify revenue sources and taking a closer look at the need for marketing, branding and parking.

For the public infrastructure component, staff members recommended CCS International help in the selection of an engineering and streetscape design team.

Fitch and Councilman John Rutledge asked about waiting to make a decision until after there was more discussion at a planning session, but officials recommended moving quickly on hiring the firm so the city can take advantage of low interest rates if any borrowing becomes necessary.

City Manager Don Rose said having a better handle on the costs will allow the council to "more accurately look at some of the revenue options that might be on the table that might be required to fund whatever improvements we are considering."

"I think there's some urgency in getting this process going," he said. "We need to do all that work anyway, strategic plan or not. We've got work that needs to be done in the downtown."

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