McHenry picks architect for proposed aquatic center

McHENRY – The size, depth and configuration of a pool – or pools – is just one item an architecture firm hired Monday evening will look at.

In a unanimous vote, the McHenry City Council hired Dewberry Architects, an Elgin-based firm, to begin researching and building the concept for an aquatic and recreation facility at Knox Park.

The four-phase contract will cost $70,500 and will include:

• A site audit, which will also look at the Knox Park barn and silo to assess the cost of restoring them and bringing them in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and programming opportunities they may create.

• A needs analysis that looks at demographics and other facilities in the area to determine what program spaces – such as pools, spectator facilities, dressing rooms, fitness centers, group exercise rooms, child care and office space – could be included and how.

• Three concept plans that propose an "ideal" that doesn't take into consideration budget constraints, a "preferred" plan that meets the proposed construction budget of $8 million and a plan that proposes an alternative if funding becomes limited.

• A cost analysis that estimates what the project would cost, what ongoing expenses and revenues would be and investigates private and public funding opportunities.

After the city put out a request for qualifications in June, it received responses from nine firms, four of which were interviewed.

The proposals did not include cost estimates, so the city does not have information on how Dewberry's proposal measures up to the others in terms of cost, Deputy City Administrator Bill Hobson said.

The work laid out in the contract should be completed by early December, according to council documents.

At that point, Dewberry would submit a second proposal and contract to the city for consideration, the documents said. That contract would cover the actual construction documents, and overseeing the bidding and construction of the facility.

The City Council would need to approve any subsequent contracts.

A facility has long been on the city's to-do list.

It has accumulated $4.1 million in a recreation center fund since 1999, when the council decided to devote 50 percent of the developer donation revenue to the project.

"I'm very pleased that this is moving forward," said Alderman Geoffrey Blake, echoing the sentiments of many on the council. "I think there's a lot of excitement for this and excitement ... that has been building for a very long time."

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