Substandard soil costs Darien another $125,000

The discovery of substandard soil conditions at the Heritage Plaza retail development site will cost Darien up to $125,000 to correct.

The city sold the 1.7-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Cass Avenue and Plainfield Road to a private developer, Darien Pointe, LLC, for $1.2 million in May, and construction has been underway since then. However, tests performed by the developer showed poor soil conditions at the site would not support normal construction methods without additional foundation work.

The original figure of up to $400,000 in additional work was scaled back after estimates were received July 21, according to Dan Gombac, the city’s director of municipal services. The city is splitting the cost of the corrective measures with the developer, Gombac said, and he noted that the city’s consultants had reviewed the soil test results and confirmed the work was necessary.

The cost to the city for remediation is $15,000 for the parking lot portion, and $75,000 for the building foundation portion, for a total of $90,000. The City Council authorized spending up to $125,000 as a contingency figure to cover any additional remediation costs that have not yet been identified.

The outlay was criticized by 3rd Ward Alderman Joseph Kenny, who noted the City Council voted July 7 to spend $163,000 on a 30-foot clock tower as a cornerstone of the development even though the subsoil issue had already surfaced. Kenny was one of three aldermen who voted against the clock tower, which was approved when Mayor Kathleen Weaver broke a 3-3 tie.

“We knew about this two weeks ago, but then we spent $163,000 on the clock tower,” Kenny said. “We should not have spent that money knowing we had this problem to fix.”

Sixth Ward Alderman Sylvia McIvor, who had joined Kenny in opposition to the clock tower, said the City Council had little choice but to approve the outlay this time around.

“This has to be done to move forward with the project,” McIvor said. “It is a structural integrity issue.”

The City Council voted 5-1 to approve the expense, with Kenny casting the lone vote against. First Ward Alderman Ted Schauer was absent.

Senior funding:

Aldermen also heard a request Monday for funding from Marylin Krolak, executive director of the nonprofit DuPage Senior Citizens Council which provides Meals on Wheels services to 75 elderly Darien residents each year, and assists about 20 more with minor household repairs and other services. Krolak said the council is experiencing a gap of $31,900 between the agency’s funding from public and private sources and its costs in providing services in Darien

“We have always appreciated the funding we have received from Darien, and we couldn’t do what we do without it,” Krolak said.

Weaver noted the city had not earmarked any money for the council in its budget, but said the City Council would take up the matter at its upcoming goal-setting session.

Also Monday, the alderman…

• Honored a pair of Eisenhower Junior High School students, Miranda Lowery and Dina Tantillo, for their outstanding performance in the PTA Reflections Program, which recognizes excellence in the arts. The students’ artwork advanced to the highest level of competition within the program.

• Noted complaints continue to roll in over the DuPage County effort to widen and improve 75th Street and adjacent portions of Cass Avenue. Gombac noted curbs and gutters are going in along 75th Street west of Cass, and the contractor charged with the Cass Avenue portion has a sizable financial incentive to complete that work in 45 days. The $12.7 million project, undertaken by the DuPage County Division of Transportation, is expected to be completed by mid-November.

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