Mayor Krajewski called the Workshop meeting of the Village Council of the Village of Downers Grove to order at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Village Hall.
Present:Mayor Brian Krajewski; Commissioners Marilyn Schnell, Sue McConnell (by phone), Martin Tully, Mark Zabloudil, Ron Sandack, Stan Urban; Village Manager Riccardo Ginex; Village Attorney Enza Petrarca; Village Clerk April Holden
Visitors: Press: Kevin Stahr, Downers Grove Reporter; Kris Owens, The Sun; Virginia Groark, Chicago Tribune Residents & Other Attendees: Sara Davis (Parking Deck); Donald Papineau, 203 5th St.; Mel Cramm (Parking Deck); William Waldack, 1409 Willard Pl.; Laurel Bowen, 829 Clyde Dr.; David Brammer, 1711 Brookwood Dr.; Christine Fregeau, 1918 Elmore Ave.; Andrew Clark, 1226 62nd St.; Richard Mueller, 1410 Concord Dr.; Robert Kollmar, 1420 Concord Dr.; Lawrence Gress, 1125 61st St.; Jack Saporito (Alliance of Residents Concerning O’Hare), PO Box 1701, Arlington Heights; Bruce Beckman, 4629 Middaugh.; Paul Callahan, 954 Summit; Ron Gandolfi, 5317 Webster; John Luka, 5618 Brookside; Lynne Vihnanek, Village of Bensenville, 12 S. Center, Bensenville, IL; Susan Kollmar, 1420 Concord; Mike Gilbert, 4625 Highland; Barry Peckhart, 1028 61st St.; Jane Amorosi, 5742 Dearborn Pkwy.; Gordon Goodman, PDHA , 5834 Middaugh; Mike Bolton, PACE ; Mark Ashby, PACE ; John McNamara, TryMac, Ltd., 1217 Parkway; David Marble, 3928 Main; Dennis Byrne, 2417 Cherry, Northbrook; Wade Nelson, 941 Bonnie Brae; Joe Karaganis, 414 W. Orleans, Chicago; Joe DelBalzo, 1201 Conn. Ave. NW, Washington, DC; Wally Brown, 1308 Gilbert; Peter Hultman, 5300 Walnut; Frank Braman, 6560 Hillcrest Staff: Stan Balicki, Support Services Manager, Public Works; Sam Webb, Transportation; Dorin Fera, Traffic Manager, Public Works; David Barber, Director, Public Works; Brian Parks, Engineer, Public Works; Jeff Waxman, Transportation; Joe Finato, Transportation; Doug Kozlowski, Public Information Officer; Mary Scalzetti, Director, Tourism & Events; Mike Millette, Assistant Director, Public Works; Dave Van Vooren, Deputy Village Manager; Mike Baker, Assistant to the Village Manager; Kurt Bluder, Deputy Police Chief; Greg Guthrie, Transportation
Mayor Krajewski explained that Council Workshop meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are video taped live and for later cable cast over cable channel 6.
The Workshop meeting is intended to provide Council and the public with an appropriate forum for informal discussion of any items intended for future Council consideration or just for general information. No formal action is taken at Workshop meetings.
The public is invited to attend and encouraged to comment or ask questions in an informal manner on any of the items being discussed or on any other subject. The agenda is created to provide a guideline for discussion.
Community Events Presentation for Holiday Decorating Program
Mary Scalzetti , Director of Tourism and Events made presentations to the following homeowners for their decorations: First PlaceThe Vlcek Family, 1029 Oxford Second PlaceThe Bellavia Family, 410 Indianapolis Third PlaceThe Papineau Family, 203 5th St. Honorable MentionThe Lederman Family, 158 Lincoln Honorable MentionThe Snisko Family, 1337 Andrus Mayor’s ChoiceThe Pocewicz Family, 5521 Middaugh
The Mayor thanked and congratulated the residents for decorating their homes so beautifully. He said that he had the opportunity to ride through the community on the commuter bus with the Seniors from Immanuel Lutheran for a two-hour tour of decorated homes.
Manager Ginex said there was an item change on the Agenda with Item 5 being discussed at the end of the Agenda.
Parking Deck Update. Village Manager Rick Ginex asked Mike Millette to address this item.
Mike Millette , Assistant Director, Public Works, said there has been tremendous progress during the past two months. He asked Sara Davis to provide specifics.
Sara Davis said the foundation work is complete, and the stormwater detention basin and lid are complete. She noted that the plumbing and electrical lines have been installed underground under the east part of the structure, which has been graded. Formwork and stair towers are going up.
Ms. Davis mentioned a couple of concerns. She said that tests were done on the post tension slabs to determine whether there was any damage due to freezing, and the results show that the concrete durability has not been affected. She indicated that the project is behind about two or two weeks. Turner is in the progress of finalizing the project to meet the completion date. There is no plan for a delay at this time. Ms. Davis said that one of the causes for delay was difficulties with the testing agency and the union for the operators. In the interim Turner has taken over testing, until the problem is resolved. She said that there is a list of potential change orders on the budget, but there is nothing alarming or out of the ordinary.
The Mayor asked whether the independent testing company is a union or nonunion company, and Ms. Davis said it was nonunion. He asked about the picketing of one nonunion company over another. Ms. Davis said that apparently one nonunion company is targeted at a time. The Mayor said the difficulty was that trucks could not get on the site. The Mayor asked when the election is scheduled to be held, and Ms. Davis said February 5. She said they may bring back the original company after that point; that is still being worked out.
Regarding the testing for the potential problem with the concrete, the Mayor asked if it was caused by an oversight of not covering the concrete. Ms. Davis said that it was covered with plastic but not blanketed properly.
Commissioner Sandack asked whether the tests conducted will be made available in writing, and Ms. Davis said all of that is to be provided in a written report and letter. She indicated that there are no problems they can foresee right now.
Commissioner Tully asked where the post tension slab appears in the deck. Ms. Davis said that they are structural components of the deck and are the decks that the cars drive on. She explained how they are prepared. She said the post tension slab in question is the ground floor slab.
Commissioner Tully then asked what a petrographic analysis is. Ms. Davis said that it was sent to a specialized lab by taking a core drilled into the existing slab and conducting a microscopic analysis of that material. It must meet certain specifications to be approved as appropriate. In further response to Commissioner Tully, Ms. Davis said the 28-day test will be conducted on January 31.
Commissioner Schnell asked what will happen if there is a problem with the 28 day test. Ms. Davis said that the slab can be replaced or they give it more time and test it again. Concrete grows in strength over time. Less drastic measures would be explored before replacing the entire slab.
Commissioner Urban asked at whose expense the replacement would be made if necessary. Ms. Davis said if it is the contractor’s fault, they would have to replace it.
Commissioner Urban then asked whether the Village is videotaping this.
Doug Kozlowski , Public Information Officer, said it is being videotaped. Ms. Davis said they are taking numerous digital photographs as well.
Commissioner Tully asked what it means in terms of the condition of the slab if the 28-day test does not come back in the preferred parameters. Ms. Davis said it is not an issue of durability, nor does it mean that it will crumble sooner. All structures are designed with a significant factor of safety to accommodate exceptionally heavy vehicles. The problem would be that the structure may not have as big a factor of safety for the exceptionally heavy vehicles and it might crack. They are not going to settle for a structure that is not up to specifications. Tests so far of other core samples indicate that it is developing strength adequately.
Commissioner McConnell said they do not want to accept anything less than work that results in a solid structure. If there is any question or doubt they must take the safer road.
Bid: Squad Car Purchase. The Manager said a squad car used by the Traffic Division of the Police Department was damaged and determined to be a total loss in an accident. There will be a $10,000 reimbursement from State Farm. They wish to replace it and the only place with a car in stock is Sutton Ford for $21,000.
Commissioner Sandack said this would expedite the process, as it would take three or four months if it went out for bid.
Parking & Traffic Commission: File #20-03 Parking Restrictions on Authority Drive, Ogden Avenue to Warrenville Road. The Manager said cars are starting to be parked on the east side of Authority Drive. There is off-street parking available, and P&T is recommending that parking restrictions on Authority Drive be made such that there be no parking at any time along both sides of Authority Drive between Ogden Avenue and Warrenville Road.
Library/Park District Health Plan Agreement. The Manager said the Village adopted the Humana SmartSuite Plan earlier in the year. The agreement allows the Library and Park District to join in the plan.
Commissioner Tully said it was a good example of intergovernmental cooperation to include the Library and Park District in the plan, and it is to everyone’s benefit.
Commissioner McConnell asked about the ability to judge an appropriate fee, and asked whether this is something new. Deputy Village Manager Van Vooren said he was not sure and would have to look further into. He thinks it may be a place holder on an existing program, or they are trying to recover some administrative costs. He will verify it.
Commissioner McConnell then asked about the 60-day period for changing plans. She asked if that was sufficient time. Ms. Van Vooren said negotiating a contract with another vendor will take longer than 60 days. He expects that they would begin negotiating for a period of time prior to the 60-day period. Commissioner McConnell asked that they make sure that the Village has enough time to do what needs to be done. Mr. Van Vooren said he would check on the length of time.
Presentation of Local Transportation Subcommittee Report. Commissioner McConnell noted to staff that she was unable to access the PowerPoint presentation.
Stan Balicki , Support Services Manager, Public Works, said that the process started last year during the budget deliberations with a discussion of commuter services. He said that Commissioners Tully and Schnell and the Public Services Committee established the Local Transportation Subcommittee in May 2003. Other members of that Subcommittee are Larry Gress, Bob Kollmar and Rich Mueller. He noted that staff worked as a support group with the Subcommittee. He then asked the Subcommittee members to summarize the PowerPoint presentation being made.
Larry Gress , 1125 61st Street, said that the subject matter of mass transportation is of importance to the quality of air that we breathe, as well as the congestion that plagues all communities throughout the country. He thanked everyone who worked on the Subcommittee, and commended staff for the assistance they provided to the members. Mr. Gress said the Subcommittee was formed to analyze the continued viability of the commuter shuttle service, to assess the benefits of the system, to investigate alternatives for enhancing the self-sufficiency of the Transportation Fund, to assess local needs and resources, and to make recommendations for future action. He reviewed the benefits of the commuter shuttle service which include economic development, getting people to and from work, reducing downtown traffic, increasing real estate values, improving air quality and reducing energy consumption. Mr. Gress noted that according to the 2003 Citizens Survey, 49% of those completing the survey said the Grove Commuter Shuttle is very important; 33% said it was somewhat important. Mr. Gress said the transportation problems require a combination of solutions including surface parking lots, the parking deck, the shuttle, the Park and Ride lots, bicycle and motorcycle racks, Kiss and Ride, pedestrians, and street and vehicular traffic management.
Rich Mueller , 1410 Concord, addressed the financial issues associated with the shuttle service. Last year there was a large increase in rates, without a big return in revenues due to a loss of ridership. The Subcommittee is recommending further analysis to increase ridership, enhance marketing, provide 5-hour minimums for charter services, providing advertising on the buses, and matching vehicle size to route ridership. Expenses have outgrown revenues. He said that additional overhead costs are significant at 48.8% yearly. He said that expenses have increased averaging 5.4% a year. Revenues have increased at an average of more than 2.5% a year.
Mr. Mueller said that the Subcommittee looked at vehicle replacement. They could obtain two smaller vehicles for the North and Belmont runs, at a cost of about $160,000 for both vehicles. It would take about 1/3 of the mileage off the current commuter service and could save on maintenance as well. There is also a possibility of grant funds for commuter service only. In addition, maintenance savings could be used to lease vehicles. Under the vehicle replacement scenario, four large new vehicles would be needed for the Southwest, Southeast and Charter services. The cost for new vehicles would be approximately $1.1 million, although this is not being recommended at this time. This would provide savings on maintenance costs, and the possibility of grants and leasing could also be explored, although the new vehicles could not be used for charter services. As for vehicle rehabilitation, the expected approximate cost would be $80,000 per vehicle that could extend the vehicle life to 500,000 miles. Most of the vehicles are presently at 180,000 miles.
Bob Kollmar , 1420 Concord, discussed the potential operating scenario options, including retaining the service as is, eliminating the service, privatizing the service, or other avenues. Looking at ways to more fully utilize the assets, they looked at the 3 AM and 3 PM routes. They suggested adding runs to the existing schedule to meet earlier trains. He reviewed each route, each utilizing an addition AM and PM run. In addition, they noticed that there are no community bus signs anywhere, and that kiosks be made available at the train station.
Mr. Kollmar reviewed the Subcommittee recommendations including realigning the commuter fares, adjusting the charter fares to become more competitive with other charter providers, enhancing bus schedules, expanding bus service awareness, providing kiosks, and exploring maintenance options. It is important to facilitate bottom line improvements and to “put seats in seats.” Mr. Kollmar said that they must publicize the commuter shuttle as a true community asset and develop a detailed action plan with measurable goals and results. If those goals and results are not achieved over time, they should then realistically consider the service viability.
Mr. Kollmar summarized the recommendations to the Council: 1) establish a Transportation Commission to formally oversee the bus operation; 2) continue expand and improve the Grove Shuttle Service; 3) implement recommended improvements; 4) provide performance measurements and results; 4) continue long-term involvement with DuPage Area Transit Plan.
Mr. Kollmar then thanked the Mayor and Council for the excellent staff support provided to the Subcommittee. He also extended the Subcommittee’s appreciation for the hard work of Commissioners Schnell and Tully.
Commissioner Schnell noted that this was one of the best groups she has worked with in her 15 years on the Council. The knowledge and expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to this report.
Commissioner Tully said that the purpose of the Subcommittee was to provide detailed information, options and alternatives to the Council so it would be available to the Council as they go into budget discussions. Recommendations were made and a number of different options were considered. The final recommendation is to both enhance the commuter and charter services. He said the committee members provided a wealth of information. Mr. Gress is with RTA , Mr. Kollmar is with Amtrack and Mr. Mueller has an MBA and is a commuter. He noted that there was participation from PACE representatives as well as the Grove Commuter Shuttle drivers. Clearly, the issue is driven by the cost of the service. There are three key factors which he saw. The resident survey places considerable value on this service. There is also an existing market which has not been tapped. He added that not enough has been done to save the service before eliminating it. Commissioner Tully stressed that public transportation is not dying, but instead is important for the future. Budget issues were uppermost considerations. He noted there are substantial maintenance costs given the age of the buses. If they could be replaced it would be worth exploring. A mixed fleet could be a possibility for savings as well. He also said that establishing an Oversight Commission dealing with commuter issues is important to the survival of the service.
Commissioner Tully then extended his thanks to Stan Balicki and Megan Dugard of the Village staff for their support and efforts in working with this Subcommittee. They provided a wealth of information to the Subcommittee and to the Council.
Commissioner Schnell said that after the 1996 report, there were attempts made by staff to implement some of the recommendations, but there are limitations on staff time and expertise. The Subcommittee or Oversight Commission would have certain expertise and could serve as a sounding board. She believes no one staff member could do all that has to be done to market this effectively. The creation of the Oversight Commission is a vital part of the report.
Commissioner Tully said that one of the other things they discussed was that the new Commission could be a sounding board and could also deal with commuter parking issues, as well as issues with respect to the new parking deck. Also, in terms of the issue of privatization as an option, if the service were not to be continued, the existing drivers have made a proposal to privatize the service. He said this has just recently come to the Subcommittee’s attention and has not been dealt with in detail in the report.
Commissioner Urban said he was astounded by the fact that this Committee left no stone unturned. This service is a diamond in the rough that needs to be polished. He was glad to see PACE representatives here tonight, noting that the community of Schaumburg worked with PACE to purchase trolleys. He said that bus signs are also a simple solution.
Commissioner Sandack said that an enormous amount of work and effort was obviously put into this. He said that the Village has a difficult process to go through. The commuter shuttle is a unique system which does good but has budgeting implications. The transportation fund is supposed to be self-sufficient, and the key to that is to increase ridership. He thanked everyone for their participation and the report.
Commissioner Zabloudil echoed his appreciation to the Subcommittee for their time. He said they have to decide what to do. In the nine or ten meetings of the Subcommittee, he noted that about 25 residents attended, ten of whom were the same people. He said given the citizen survey, the interest was not evident in the attendance at these meetings. He appreciates the recommendations being made, but how to spend and allocate a half million dollars annually must be studied. This will be a difficult decision. He said that in 1974 the premise of the system was to address the fact that not enough parking was available. By 2004 we will have added over 1000 spaces with the completion of the deck. He said that the original objective has been met by adding the necessary spaces for commuter parking. Commissioner Zabloudil said that the community has to have excess liability insurance strictly for the commuter service. He said that the information provided by the report stimulates thought; however, there was no financial analysis done on the recommendations. Significant dollars have to be invested, and he hopes that some financial information is provided before the budget discussions. The bottom line is that they must be financially responsible to all citizens, and to continue subsidizing this service for a small group is not being fiscally responsible. If they can change the trends, he is open to listening to that.
Commissioner McConnell commented that in the staff report of August 18, parameters for measuring success of the system were provided, and it seems that there were a number of things that would be beneficial to the Village. She then asked about the options and recommendations to attempt to enhance the current system, and said that Options 5 and 6 to eliminate the charter service would appear to minimize the costs to the Village. She said that the report regarding the charter portion of the service is somewhat confusing in that apparently 59% of the revenue comes from the charters, and 25% of the cost is related to the charters. She asked for some clarification regarding the charters.
Commissioner Tully responded that the Subcommittee attempted to look at every option from elimination to everything in between. The question was what could be done and what the consequences of those actions would be. The Subcommittee was of the mind that if, given the chance to succeed with proper implementation of the recommendations, the service still does not succeed, then they have an obligation to eliminate the service. The original purpose was to provide a commuter service to the community. The charter service was added to help subsidize the cost for the commuter service. The Subcommittee felt that the charter service is a community service to local organizations, schools, the Park District, etc.
Commissioner McConnell said that Options 5 or 6 looks like the elimination of the charter service would decrease the amount of loss significantly, and she wondered what the Subcommittee’s rationale was for not recommending that.
Commissioner Tully responded that they chose not to recommend the elimination because of the revenue factor, and because the charter service is a form of community service. Commissioner McConnell said it looked as though less money was lost if it was eliminated, and was trying to make some sense of it.
Commissioner Schnell replied that if they eliminate the charter service, they could eliminate two buses, and would have a smaller fleet and that would result in savings. The fleet would be reduced from 8 buses to 6 buses which would also save on maintenance costs. One of the principal reasons they chose not to recommend elimination of the charter service is that it provides a tremendous community service to schools, churches, the Park District, not-for-profit groups, Heritage Festival, etc. There are many community benefits.
Mr. Kollmar said that the recommendation is a family of solutions to help the community and the downtown. The deck is one part of the solution and will not clean up all of the problems. All of the aspects such as the Park & Ride, Kiss & Rides, Seats in Seats, traffic reduction—all of those things will help the downtown businesses and the commuters. They must look at the whole picture, and do whatever can be done to enhance and improve the service for the benefit of as many people as possible.
Commissioner McConnell said that one of the things mentioned was the fare box recovery ratio and bringing it to the 80% -90% rate. Mr. Kollmar said that the Subcommittee was shocked at the success of the fare box recovery ratio. They are confident that it can be done better, and they are looking for simple, low-cost immediate ways to have people be aware of the bus and use the service.
Commissioner McConnell said if they look at extending this for three years, there are maintenance issues to be considered. She asked if the Subcommittee would be looking to maintain the current buses at a functional level, but not long-term.
Commissioner Tully said that a number of ideas were discussed as to long-term capital replacement, since that is a substantial capital investment. All of the options have to be explored in further depth. There are grant options, vehicles available from the State, or other financing options. The biggest issue is the long-term capital plan for the fleet. He is convinced that they can enhance the service.
Commissioner Schnell said that the possibility of CNG buses was considered since they cost less to use as the fuel would be cheaper. This may offer benefits not only for the commuters, but could be used for Heritage Festival and the senior community. The Seniors need a better and more consistent means of transportation. Those buses would fit in with the plans of DuPage County as well. She said that these ideas have to be investigated further.
Commissioner McConnell said the plan for an Oversight Commission is a great idea. She asked if the intent was to create, oversee and implement an action plan and report it to the Council, and Commissioner Tully said that was the intent. Commissioner McConnell said that the information provided has been very helpful. She simply wanted to better understand the thought processes, and would like to see the Oversight Commission established.
The Mayor thanked the Subcommittee for its hard work, and said that the report will be well used in deciding whether to keep the service. He asked whether the fare box recovery includes the charter revenue. Mr. Balicki responded that it does. He said the difficulty comes in which expenses are allocated to charter as opposed to allocation to commuter use, particularly in regard to overhead costs.
Mayor Krajewski then said that if the charter system was eliminated, there are still $241,000 of expenses that don’t go away. He asked about the vehicle rehabilitation on page 11. He understood that buses should last 500,000 miles. The Village buses have only 180,000 miles and seem to be in poor condition with transmission problems, etc. The report said that $480,000 can rehab six vehicles for a life of 500,000 miles. He asked if there is a reason why they are falling apart so soon.
Mr. Balicki said they looked at the operation of the garage. There may have been maintenance that should have been done over the course of years that wasn’t done. Another consideration is how the vehicles are used, such as an urban versus a rural setting. All of those factors effect how long the bus lasts. Lower mileage does not necessarily mean it will last longer.
The Mayor said that the buses will continue to use the same routes. If they rehab the buses, will they get another 320,000 miles. Mr. Balicki said that past experience would probably be the same in the future.
The Mayor said he doesn’t want to spend $480,000 for another 5 years use. He said the report indicates that the taxpayers are paying $24,000 to subsidize the Darien and Woodridge residents. Mr. Balicki said it was $24,000 for each community.
The Mayor said he saw the report as very good, but he doesn’t want to have a report and then not implement it. He said that Commissioner Zabloudil referenced a 1974 report that was never acted upon. He said he believes a Board or Commission would work on implementing these recommendations. What looms larger is the cost of replacement. The big issue is whether this service should be provided. It is an extra service. He noted that Downers Grove has a low tax burden due to economic development and sales tax. It costs money to add services that other communities do not have. The Downers Grove real estate tax is $0.37/$100 of assessed value. He said that the Council has a policy decision to make and needs to determine how it will be paid for. If they choose to go forward, they need to make a commitment to the project.
Commissioner Zabloudil said regarding this being a community service, some of the adjacent communities take advantage of our services at a cost to our residents. He indicated that the report does not make comparisons to communities of our size. He said they have to ask whether this is a necessity to the Village or is it nice to have. He said the people are not using the system. He asked whether the tools will yield an increase in ridership. It is hard to justify a system such as this if there are not people using it.
The Mayor said that surveys are useful, but are not set in stone.
Commissioner Tully said that this is meant as a beginning of the conversation, not the end.
William Waldack , 1409 Willard Place, said he was not a member of the Subcommittee but did attend the meetings. He commented on the remarkable manner in which the Committee treated the public and their input. It was unfortunate that the public did not attend. He commended Commissioners Schnell and Tully for the manner in which they handled public input. He said that other commissions could benefit from this. Mr. Waldack said he supports the recommendation to enhance the shuttle and charter services. He said the system ranks as one of the most efficient in the country. No one is asking the Village to drive itself into bankruptcy. He encouraged approval of the Committee’s recommendations, stating that if the system is eliminated it would take up 200 parking spaces.
The Mayor said that the report was very well done, and he thinks a successful program would be to close the gap that exists now.
Wally Brown , 1308 Gilbert Avenue, said he has been tracking this bus system since it started. He said this is the most qualified group of people, and they’ve provided the best information he has seen since the system started. He said it appears as though the system needs a 100% increase to break even.
The Mayor said that the umbrella insurance policy was increased to $50 million after the 1996 report was made. After 9/11 they have a $20 million policy for the same cost. He noted that Mr. Brown helped implement the bus system.
Dave Marble , 3829 Main Street, said he bought this house two months ago and would not have bought it if it were not for the bus services. The best way to enhance a community is not to take a service away. He said that the Subcommittee members made a good presentation. He would like to see the system stay. He also said that having smaller buses might be beneficial. The commuter bus he takes has at most 12 commuters. He said the only thing he didn’t like was the negativity, and would rather see a positive attitude toward making the system work. He recommended that they go to Darien or other communities who use the system and ask that they subsidize it. He asked whether they have discussed PACE taking over the routes.
The Mayor said that is an option, but PACE is eliminating some routes. Mr. Marble said that the PACE schedule appears to be the same as the commuter schedule.
Greg Guthrie , Transportation Supervisor, thanked Commissioners Schnell and Tully, the Subcommittee and the staff for their work. He has driven these buses for 17 years and he appreciated the support of the committee. He said that the revenues and costs have gone up, but the administrative overhead has gone up 300%. It’s not because they are run badly, but because they are forced to ship too much money “upstairs. ” The cost of labor has increased to 60%, with a 31% markup on parts. He asked that they look at all the costs.
The Mayor said that the Council has heard that there is a lot of bad information out there. Mr. Guthrie said he hasn’t heard it. The Mayor asked if he is helping with that bad information, and Mr. Guthrie said he was not. He’s been driving these people for 17 years, kind of like their bartender on wheels.
John McNamara , 1217 Parkway, asked if there is any data that shows that for every rider who doesn’t use the shuttle a parking space will be taken. Commissioner Tully said that a survey was done of existing bus riders asking if a parking space were made available at a cost neutral basis, would they take that. He said they were surprised by the number that said no, it is a lifestyle issue. People ride it because they choose to ride it.
The Mayor said he thought the same question was asked in 1996. Mr. Balicki said the question asked was what was the preferred method of getting to the train other than the shuttle. The response was that they would prefer to drive to a permit lot.
Barry Peckhart , 1028 61st Street, asked about the current ridership. Commissioner Sandack said it was 276 people. Mr. Peckart said that he thinks a lot of money is being thrown away for less than 300 people.
6. O’Hare Expansion. The Manager said last week Council asked to Workshop this item. He said he spoke with the City of Chicago and they would be happy to take questions from the Council and get the information back to them. He said that two photos were provided to the Council. He said that questions can also be e-mailed to him from the Council.
Commissioner Schnell said her concerns are the environmental impact on our residents and community. Over the years there have been complaints of noise pollution over Downers Grove, particularly in the summer. Residents feel the airport affects their quality of life. She said she would like to know if there would be an increase in flights over the Village of Downers Grove if the expansion takes place, and the amount of pollution that will entail. She also would like to know the western access road and its impact on traffic. Further she asked about the economic impact of the expansion and reported boom to DuPage County, and specifically what it would be to the Village.
Commissioner Sandack said that what is before the Council is a support resolution, and whether or not the Council approves that resolution will not determine whether or not the airport will be expanded. He said that the resolution is very general, and little more than a ceremonial blessing. He encouraged residents to put forth questions.
Commissioner Zabloudil said that this issue affects many more than 275 people. Flight patterns would impact us, and he is concerned about what the additional impact would be in terms of noise and potential economic development. He said that he read that Lombard will be opening a convention center right across the road from the Village. They wouldn’t be doing that if they did not think the airport would have a positive economic impact.
Commissioner McConnell said her questions were covered in terms of environmental impacts and economic effects. She would also like to see a final plan.
Commissioner Urban said he e-mailed his questions to the Manager. He said he would like to see the final plan with a map. He also said that it is a very loosely written resolution and he would like to see more specifics in terms of what he would be voting on. He also feels that they need a discussion on this, and that they need to hear more before voting on it. There are safety issues to be considered as to the impact over Downers Grove, as well as the economic impact.
Commissioner Tully asked what the EDC has to say about this. He said he agrees with Commissioner Sandack’s comment that this is basically a resolution that says they support things that are good for Downers Grove and DuPage County.
John McNamara , 1217 Parkway, said he agrees with Commissioners Sandack and Tully. He commended the Council for putting this off for public input and the parties involved.
Mike Gilbert , 4625 Highland, said he couldn’t disagree more that this is an insignificant resolution. It is important because it reflects the feelings of the citizens of the Village. He said that if he lived in Bensenville it would be a more emotional issue for him. He said he thought that the vast majority of residents in the Village support the expansion because it is good for the Village and for DuPage County. He said that the majority of people he has spoken with over time support it. He said he expects his elected officials, and stated that he hoped Commissioner Urban was listening very carefully, to vote on this resolution not based on what the Suburban O’Hare Commission wants, what the people of Bensenville want or what his boss in Bensenville chooses, but what the citizens of Downers Grove really think about the expansion of O’Hare, and what is good for the Village as a community and what’s good for the County. This issue can be debated for the next hundred years. He personally trusts the general public’s opinions and feels they understand the pros and cons of building another airport. He hoped that they would pass this unanimously.
The Mayor said that Naperville, Lisle, Oak Brook have all said the same thing.
Joe Kariganis , representing the Suburban O’Hare Commission, said the questions already asked by the Council should be asked by everyone. Aviation and airports are good for the economy, and what should be asked is whether this proposal before them is good for the economy. Mr. Kariganis said that the City has repeatedly refused to provide answers to some of the questions, such as how much it will cost. The City said it will cost $6.6 billion; however, the Commission estimates it would cost about $15 billion. He said that they should ask Chicago the detailed quantity and unit costs for the expansion, and how it will be financed. Mr. Kariganis said that the reconfiguration of the runways will significantly impact DuPage County, and those flight paths should be made available. He mentioned that he passed St. Joseph Church on his way to the meeting. He referred to his memorandum to the Council which mentioned religious freedom, because the O’Hare expansion would impact two religious cemeteries and destroy them, which would be opposed to the individual’s constitutional rights of freedom of religion. He said that the Council should be cognizant of the fact that the proposal before them asked them to condone this action.
Joseph DelBalzo , President of JDA Aviation Technology Solutions based on Washington, said he was asked a year ago to review the O’Hare Expansion plan and determine whether it would meet the City of Chicago’s objectives to reduce flight delays, increase flight capacity to 1.6 million flights per year, and do it for $6.6 billion. JDA reviewed those issues and concluded that the plan would not reduce delays, could not handle 1.6 million flights per year, and would probably cost $15-20 billion as it doesn’t include new terminals and improvements, and underestimates the amount of costs for each of their projects. There is also a significant safety issue, in his opinion and based upon his experience. He said the airspace around O’Hare today is the most crowded in the United States. Mr. DelBalzo said they included Mr. David Hinson and Mr. Jonathan Howe to review the issues raised. These men volunteered their time to review the report done by JDA . Their comments were that the proposed expansion will not provide increased flights, and that the concerns raised questions whether the plan makes any sense. Mr. DelBalzo said that his firm has reviewed the proposal and there has been very little information made available to the public. He contrasted the information given on the O’Hare decision with the type of information provided to the Council this evening by its Transportation Committee. He said they should be able to provide information with the same amount of detail as the Council received.
The Mayor referenced an editorial in the Tribune urging the need for greater capacity, and questioned the information provided by consultants paid to provide a report.
Commissioner Tully said that all decisions are based on considered deliberations. He looked at the letter from Mr. Kariganis, as well as the other reports. This issue has been around for several years. He said that the Council is being asked to lend its support for things that are good for Downers Grove and DuPage County.
Jack Saporito , with the Alliance of Residents Concerning O’Hare Expansion based out of Arlington Heights, said the Alliance represents residents in 41 communities. He said that O’Hare produces massive amounts and unusual types of air, water and ground pollution. He said the expansion of O’Hare was not wise since the industry is the least sustainable form of transportation, because it is based on the availability of oil. He said that creating a new airport would not be an economic engine, but is the result of economic engines.
The Mayor asked him if he has copies of reports to give to the Council. There was a brief heated discussion between the Mayor and Mr. Saporito, as the Mayor wanted to make sure the residents who wished to speak were provided their time. The Mayor said that the Council would be happy to read any reports he may have. Mr. Saporito continued his presentation asking for the same five minutes that others were given. He reviewed estimated costs on the communities caused by pollution. He said that O’Hare is among the worse man-made air pollutants and produces more pollution than from all of the Illinois generating power plants combined. He said that the expansion will not fix congestion and will be extremely expensive. He said that O’Hare is in an extremely densely populated area and health issues caused by the pollution have resulted in increased health care costs. He said that solutions are in the report he has and the figures are backed up by the US GAO .
The Mayor thanked him for his report. Mr. Saporito said that he testifies all over the country and has never been treated as badly. The Mayor asked that he be removed from the Chambers.
Frank Bremer , 6560 Hillcrest, said the Council must consider the environmental issue and how it effects the Village. The flight patterns do not bother him. He said what is disturbing is that Midway has adjusted its flight patterns to travel over Downers Grove. He wants to know what the flight patterns will be. He previously lived in River Grove and the jets drove them out of River Grove. He does not want to see that happen in Downers Grove.
Dr. Gordon Goodman , 5834 Middaugh, said he thought the Council has raised good questions and is pleased that the Manager will follow up on those issues. He serves on the DuPage Environmental Commission and one of the issues they have spent several meetings investigating is the possibility of extending the intermodal transportation around O’Hare. There is also the possibility of rail access and increased public transportation. He said that the western access needs to be a major part of the planning, and how this will affect surrounding communities must be considered.
The Mayor said that he raised good points regarding western access.
Laurel Bowen , 829 Clyde, said that many people are wondering why the Council is considering approval of this. She said Commissioner Sandack said that nothing the Council says will impact the expansion at all. She said the FAA has gone on record that the increase at O’Hare will not result in more flights. She said they also expressed concern regarding safety issues. She recommended that everyone visit the website areco.org for the scientific research studies conducted. She is against this expansion.
STANDING COMMITTEE REPORTS
There were none.
ATTORNEY ’S REPORT
Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said she was presenting four items to the Council: 1) An ordinance establishing no parking restrictions on Authority Drive; 2) A resolution authorizing execution of an intergovernmental agreement for joint administration of employee health insurance program between the Downers Grove Public Library and the Village of Downers Grove; 3) A resolution authorizing execution of an intergovernmental agreement for joint administration of employee health insurance program between the Downers Grove Park District and the Village of Downers Grove; and 4) A resolution supporting the improvement of O’Hare International Airport.
Commissioner Schnell said she hoped they would get the answers to their questions before the vote next week.
Commissioner Tully thanked everyone who came to the Ice Sculpture Festival.
The Mayor congratulated Lisa Rasin on being named the Downers Grove Citizen of the Year.
He mentioned the success of the Pancake Breakfast on Saturday. He said that someone stole the ice sculpture in front of the church. He said it seems to happen every year that they lose one ice sculpture.
Mark Callahan , 954 Summit, said that he saw that a parking lot is being planned by Lincoln Center. Commissioner Tully said that was by the Park district and should be addressed there.
Frank Braman , 6560 Hillcrest, complimented the staff on the snow removal and ice removal.
There being no further discussion, the Workshop meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.
April K. Holden Village Clerk tmh