McHenry moves forward with recreation center, wastewater plant projects

Council OKs agreements for recreation center, wastewater plant

McHENRY – Two big-ticket projects moved ahead Monday evening despite concerns the city might not be getting the best price.

In a 4-2 vote, the McHenry City Council approved two agreements valued at $1.4 million with the city's engineering firm, HR Green, for the design of a consolidated wastewater treatment plant.

The council also voted, 5-1, authorizing agreements with FGM Architects and HR Green for the design and engineering of an 18,000- to 20,000-square-foot recreation center on city-owned land west of the McHenry Municipal Center.

The proposed recreation center would include a fitness center, multipurpose rooms, dance and aerobics rooms, office space and a baby-sitting center, Deputy City Administrator Bill Hobson said.

The contracts are worth just under a collective $500,000, according to council documents.

None of the contracts include all the construction services, and final approval of either project requires a council vote.

"These two big projects are something we've been after for 10 years," Alderman Robert Peterson said. "What we're doing tonight is like amazing, I think."

Andy Glab was the sole alderman to vote against both items. He was joined by Alderman Victor Santi in rejecting the wastewater plant contracts. Alderman Jeff Schaefer was absent from Monday's meeting.

While Glab and Santi said they had no concerns with HR Green's work, they suggested the city go out for additional proposals for these big-ticket projects.

"The point I'm making more than anything is, maybe they're right, but how do we know?" Glab said. "What's the comparison? That's why I brought up a couple of weeks ago [the question of] why aren't we going out for another proposal or two?"

Santi agreed, noting that users of the wastewater system will be paying for the project, which is expected to cost an estimated $21 million, for the next 20 years in increased rates.

While Alderwoman Geri Condon said she agreed there are times when going out for additional proposals on engineering contracts would be beneficial, it makes sense to go with HR Green because the firm has been involved in all the previous steps of the process and is familiar with the city's wastewater system.

"Because they have been with us along in the process of this transition and because they are acutely aware of everything that we have now and where we're trying to go, even if we went out to bid, the additional hours that would have to be put into researching our system would negate [any savings]," Condon said.

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