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, 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 Residents: Larry Gress, Robert Kollmar, Anthony Schiller, Geoff Neustadt, Rich Mueller (Transportation Advisory Committee); Bob Dean (DuPage Mayors & Managers); Ken Lerner, 4933 Whiffin; Gordon Goodman, 5834 Middaugh; Jim Mulqueeny, 1190 Parker Ave.; John Grabs, 7117 Dunham; Rossalyn Hiatt, 2050 Prentiss; Santhosh Augustine, 6813 Ticonderoga; Edith Makra (Morton Arboretum); Barry Peckhart, 1028 61st St.; Susan Dziekan, 7237 Powell Place; John Raleigh, 7325 Ticonderoga; Bob Magliola, 1424 Jefferson; Jane Amorosi, 5742 Dearborn Parkway; M. Bolton, 6631 Springside; Megan Schroeder, 6036 Ridge Ct.; Mark Thomas, 1109 61st St.; Dan Nelson, 6129 Washington St.; Mike Vaci, 1200 Gregory Place; David Vaci, 1200 Gregory Place; Linda Dean, 5227 Main Street; David Brammer, 1711 Brookwood Drive; Bill Wrobel, 7800 Queens Court; William Waldack, 1409 Willard; Andy Clark, 1226 62nd Street; Frank Cote, 1450 Concord Court; Richard Van Der Molen, Steve Vogrin (BFI); Aspasia Colias, 1106 Mistwood Lane; David Schulz, 5509 Washington; Pauline Semenchuk, 742 72nd Street Staff: Dave Van Vooren, Deputy Village Manager; Mike Baker, Assistant Village Manager; Dave Barber, Director, Public Works; Mike Millette, Assistant Director, Public Works; Stan Balicki, Assistant Director, Public Works; Kerstin von der Heide, Village Forester; Dorin Fera, Traffic Engineering Manager, Public Works; Rita Trainor, Director, Financial Services; Rita Rutkowski, Accounting Supervisor
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.
Award for 2004 Sidewalk Repair & Replacement, Project #03-04. Village Manager Rick Ginex asked Mike Millette, Assistant Director, Public Works, to address this item.
Mike Millette , Assistant Director, Public Works, said that staff has opened bids for the 2004 sidewalk contract, which was delayed from last summer. The Village received eight bids, with a low bid from Strada Construction at $49,910.00. Staff called references and received a total of five calls back, all of which were favorable. He said that this contract includes the Chase and Leonard walkway, as well as trip hazards throughout the Village. He said that there is a north/south sidewalk on Chase.
The Mayor asked if this should run to Janes, and Mr. Millette said they could ask for a price to do this.
Dave Barber , Director, Public Works, said that the 61st Street section does not go all the way through to Janes.
Commissioner Schnell asked if this takes care of all of the identified trip hazards. Mr. Millette said it does.
North Belmont Park Water Main Improvements – Change Order.
Mr. Millette said this is the project for TCE contamination mitigation. The cost for this change order is $109,000 which will be reimbursable by DuPage County, and $35,000 reimbursable from IEPA .
Commissioner McConnell asked whether the Village anticipates full reimbursement. Mr. Millette said he is sure of the 100% from the County, and the IEPA , but is unsure of the remaining $15,000.
RFP : Auditing Services Agreement for 2005-2009 . The Manager asked Rita Trainor, Director, Financial Services, to address this item.
Rita Trainor , Finance Director, and Rita Rutkowski, Accounting Supervisor, addressed the Council regarding the audit RFP . Ms. Trainor said staff recommends that Council authorize a one-year agreement with four one-year extensions with Sikich Gardner and Company. She said that the Finance Committee asked for reference checks of a client not on the list, and a previous client. She noted that both were favorable.
The Mayor asked what for the names of other communities who have worked with these auditors..
Rita Rutkowski said they were Des Plaines, and Mt. Prospect.
The Mayor asked if they received a breakout of hourly costs, and Ms. Rutkowski said they only provided the total – 450 hours. The Mayor asked if anyone else gave a breakdown, and Ms. Rutkowski said they did. The Mayor said he would like to see the 2nd and 3rd place responses and their breakdown of costs.
Commissioner Zabloudil said that Commissioner Sandack and he talked about the breakout. They submitted lump sum bids for the work, and the hours were more in line with the Village’s current provider. He said that Sikich was higher in terms of the number of hours.
Commissioner McConnell asked for additional explanation about the comment regarding reducing the actual budget amount, and the timing issues. Ms. Trainor said that at the time they developed the budget they were taking their best guess. She recommends accepting Sikitch and lowering the budget.
BFI Agreement. The Manager said that at last week’s meeting the staff was directed by the Council to seek options with BFI . He called upon Mike Baker to report.
Mike Baker , Assistant Village Manager, said that the current contract expires at the end of this month. They are looking at a two or five-year contract. He indicated that the materials in the Workshop packet reflected BFI ’s five-year proposal with only the first two years of the contract noted. He said additional conversations with BFI generated two other options in terms of the length of the contract and the pricing of the stickers. He then reviewed the options, with Option 1 having a sticker cost at $2.20 for refuse/yard waste in year one of the contract, and $2.35 for refuse and $2.30 for yard waste in year two. Option two levels out the sticker price for both years for refuse and yard waste at $2.27. The third Option is for a 5-year contract ranging from $2.25 the first year to $2.55 in year five. There is no leaf pickup included in the proposals, but does include one Amnesty Day. He said that BFI representatives were present.
Commissioner Schnell asked about the Amnesty Day and whether it is still three stickers. Mr. Baker said that under both two-year proposals they would require three stickers, and under the five-year proposal they would go down to two stickers.
Commissioner Zabloudil asked BFI whether they have seen a relationship between the price of the sticker and the amount people put out in terms of yard waste.
Steve Vogrin , District Manager, BFI , said it depends upon the community, but it is true that with the higher price, fewer stickers are sold. Commissioner Zabloudil asked if there was a way to put the leaf pick up back in. Mr. Vogrin responded that there are many different programs in different communities and they would be willing to talk about that.
The Mayor said that possibly they would want to send this to the Environmental Commission.
Commissioner McConnell said she thinks it is more appropriate to go with Option 1.
Commissioner Tully agreed with Commissioner McConnell and said he favors Option 1.
Commissioner Schnell said they might want the Environmental Concerns Commission (ECC) to produce an educational video regarding mulching, composting, etc.
The Mayor said that the ECC listened to a presentation on recycling which was said to be very informative. He recommended that could be presented as well.
Commissioner Schnell said it is important for people to understand the options. She would also like to see if there is a way to enhance the recycling program by including more recyclables.
The Mayor said that between Options 1 and 2, he would favor Option 2, and keep the sticker prices the same.
Pauline Semenchuk , 742 72nd Street, said she thought there was another company which was cheaper but which the Village chose not to use because they had never worked with them before; yet, for the sidewalk contract they are giving the contract to a bidder who has never worked in the Village. She asked if it is cheaper, why they are not going with the low bidder.
The Mayor responded that the other company was going to have to hire drivers, train them, and purchase trucks. They had not worked in DuPage County. There was an issue of possible cross contamination, and the Council was concerned about the implementation of the program, and the changing of pickup days.
Ms. Semenchuk asked why this was not put out to bid sooner, and the Mayor said that was a good question.
Ms. Semenchuk recommended reviewing this sooner next time to save money. The Mayor asked her whether she has had issues with the service. Ms. Semenchuk said she has had some. She has friends who reside in Tinley Park, and they can choose from three different companies.
Mr. Baker said that in regards to the timing, there were some factors that slowed down the process. Even before they began, they were in discussion with Darien, Woodridge and Lisle to consider a joint contract. That did not happen. The issue was then taken to the Environmental Concerns Commission which further slowed the process. He said this will be done in a timelier manner the next time around.
Mayor Krajewski asked if Mr. Baker was aware of Darien having issues with their vendor. Mr. Baker responded that as he understands it, the information in the RFP document overstated the number of households in the Village. The contractor found there were nearly 2000 fewer houses and they had to amend their prices.
Dr. Gordon Goodman , 5834 Middaugh, stated he is a member of the Environmental Concerns Commission. He said that the BFI contract meets the criteria set by the ECC . It is his understanding that the recycling components will be the same as BFI has provided in the past. He agrees with Commissioner Schnell’s recommendation to increase the recyclables. Dr. Goodman said that the ECC will be better able to help the Village with this two-year extension. In discussing the role of the ECC , education was the single issue upon which there was the most support. He said they will need staff support to carry the education role out.
Richard Mueller , 1410 Concord, said that BFI has a monopoly in incorporated DuPage County. In unincorporated areas their rates are lower.
The Mayor asked whether BFI can provide the Council with the total amount of recycling from Downers Grove. Mr. Vogrin said he could provide that information.
Mr. Baker said that DuPage County puts out a report, and Downers Grove was second or third on the list in terms of the percentage of recycling materials collected.
Commissioner Urban asked staff if it would be possible in the future to devise a recycling program in the CBD . He also asked if the Village has ever looked into an Agreement with the industrial parks regarding waste hauling. He asked if this would be a benefit for BFI to look at this.
Mr. Baker said he doesn’t think that has been looked at, and it may be an opportunity within the current contract period.
Commissioner Tully said that the Council direction for staff is for a two-year contract only, for either Option 1 or 2.
Tree Preservation Ordinance. The Manager asked Kerstin von der Heide, Village Forester, to address this matter.
Kerstin von der Heide , Village Forester, said the Council has received changes to Chapter 24 of the Municipal Code which consists of 13 pages. She said staff has met with the Environmental Concerns Commission regarding this ordinance. She said she is looking to address inadequate tree protection of parkway trees, and improve private property tree preservation during construction. By using a slide presentation, she showed examples of the kind of damage that occurs due to construction problems. She noted that she invoices the builders for damage to trees; however, the invoice occurs after the fact and there are still damaged trees. Therefore, she has made changes that require the fencing around the trees to be a rectangle rather than a circle. Trees on private property are also a problem in terms of protection measures, and potential damages.
Ms. Von der Heide said one way she would like to address the problem is to create a tree survey and tree preservation plan for the four different types of permits. She would require a list of all trees, as well as a breakdown of those being removed, those being kept, and how those being kept are going to be protected. She has also revised the section on violations, to include revocation of permits if damage persists, as well as establishing fines. The range would be $500 for the first occurrence, $1000 for the second and $2500 for the third and subsequent offenses. Implementation and enforcement of this will cause a major shift in her Division’s duties and she has no way to know the staff time as yet. Her Division averages about 825 calls per year, of which 40% are for prunings and branch failures. She said she would notify the people with permits as well as those applying for permits of these changes.
The Mayor suggested providing a warning for the first offense. He then asked if she said that the whole parkway needs to be fenced off, and she said that was correct, except where access is necessary. The Mayor noted that Code Enforcement also has issues regarding fines for fences, and he suggested that the staff from both departments cross train so one person can issue a citation for trees or house fences.
Commissioner Zabloudil asked if there was a minimum distance from a parkway tree, and Ms. Von der Heide said there is an established minimum. She said that she wants to be sure that the tree is protected.
Commissioner Schnell said that on private property they would have to do a tree survey and screen and protect the trees. She asked if there is any education provided as to the required radius. Ms. Von der Heide said that the industry says that the critical root zone is 1’ for every 1” in diameter. In the section on the tree preservation plan, the petitioner would need to list the fencing materials as well. She will provide an education process.
Commissioner Tully said he is glad to see this coming before the Council. Tree protection on both public and private property has been an issue raised in the past. He then summarized what Ms. Von der Heide proposed. With respect to public property, this would increase protection and increase penalties for non-compliance. For private property, this would only affect trees on private property in four situations: 1) If a demolition permit is requested; 2) If a major addition is undertaken; 3) New subdivisions; and 4) Planned Unit Developments. He asked about diseased trees, and Ms. von der Heide said that would be done based on her review, but no permit would be required.
Ms. von der Heide said she decided against requiring tree removal permits on private property because we do not have a problem with tree removals outside of construction. The communities that have such a requirement approve 95% of the permit requests and it involves considerable paperwork.
The Mayor then asked if the builder says they will take down one tree and actually take down three, would that be penalized. Ms. von der Heide said it would be if it were a protected tree. She said her Division will be working with Code Enforcement in terms of making the education materials available. The Mayor recommended that people sign a statement acknowledging that they have received the information and are aware of their responsibilities.
Commissioner Zabloudil said that when a site plan is submitted, the protective guidelines should be attached to the site plan when it is returned.
David Schultz , 5509 Washington Street, said he supports the tree ordinance. He is a member of various groups that support tree protection. His concern is the requirement for a tree survey and about circumvention of the process by removing certain trees before the property is sold. He would like that circumvention prevented. He then asked why a 10” diameter was selected for the protection and preservation. He asked for consideration of perhaps 4” or 6” sized trees. Mr. Schultz asked for Village commitment regarding providing adequate resources and staffing. He recommended that the public information process begin so as to insure that the public is aware of this program. He said that the staff recommendation is that they will report back to the Commission within a year, and he asked for consideration that a log be kept regarding questions and general observations. He applauded the changes recommended to the Ordinance.
Barry Peckhart , 1028 61st Street, said he reviewed the Ordinance and has concerns. It is a good idea to protect the public trees, and to educate the public on trees on private property. However, he felt this would be an incentive for builders to cut trees down initially. He thought that fencing will be extensive and restrictive, probably encouraging the builders to cut the trees down up front. The additional costs will also encourage the builders to simply cut down the trees. Mr. Peckhart said that in Section B it discusses protection of trees and prohibition of cutting down trees on private property. He thinks they need to look more closely at the Ordinance to see if it accomplishes what the Village wants to accomplish.
Dr. Gordon Goodman, 5834 Middaugh, said he thought this was a good step in the direction indicated in the Dialogue on Community Development. All issues related to redevelopment are complex issues, and it is important to move ahead. He said there is a possibility to adopt a conservative approach and see what happens in the community and then review it in one year. He also noted that one thing the Village can do is point out to developers that the reason houses sell well in Downers Grove is that the community atmosphere and adult trees contribute greatly to that sense of community. He believes the proposal is in the right direction, and he also likes the idea of coordinating this with other Village departments.
Ken Lerner , 4933 Whiffen Place, said he is in favor of the Ordinance and expressed his appreciation to the Village for looking at the tree preservation issue. He noted that in the Community Dialogue this was one of the top issues mentioned as positive to the future of neighborhoods. He said the community has interest in preserving trees both on public and private property.
Edith Makra of the Morton Arboretum said her role with the Arboretum is to assist communities in working through tree issues. She has worked with Ms. von der Heide and with the Pierce Downers group. Ms. Makra then talked about the urban forest, stating that trees are for the good of the community and must be managed for the public good. She said that trees are not just beautiful, but also have a very real environmental function and impact. Ms. Makra said communities need a firm approach for tree preservation as they affect air quality, reduce the urban heat effect, produce oxygen levels, assist toward reducing energy demands, assist with stormwater management, benefit public health including emotional and physical health, and have an economic impact on property values in a community. She noted that the U.S. Forest Service measures the health of a community by the percent of canopy cover. Ms. Makra said that Downers Grove has long had a reputation of being one of the model urban forestry programs in the region. She noted that many communities are struggling with issues of teardowns today, and she sees this proposal as a good first step. She offered her assistance and continued support to the Village and its staff.
Megan Schroeder , 6036 Ridge Court, said that clear cutting is already happening, and she hopes this Ordinance can stop this. She built two homes in Downers Grove and protected the trees on both sites before it was popular. She said it was cost effective and the result was eleven saved trees. They also have to consider the value to neighboring properties, and a method of helping new homes to fit into the neighborhood. She said that the average lot in the active in the market is $302,000, and there are no new home costs under $600,000.
The Mayor asked Ms. von der Heide why they chose the 10” diameter, and she said they based it on an average of other communities, and represents about a ten-year-old tree.
Mayor Krajewski then referenced speakers’ comments about clear cutting, and asked if there was a financial incentive to saving trees in terms of the cost of permitting. He asked that staff look into the possibilities.
Commissioner Tully said there were a number of other communities whose ordinances were reviewed, and he asked which of those communities this ordinance closest resembles.
Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said it is a mix of all of them. Commissioner Tully asked what other community experiences have been to circumvent the problem. Ms. von der Heide said circumvention comes into play in the communities that require tree removal permits. There are situations where a homeowner will request a permit to remove a tree without any specific reason, and then sells the property to a developer, which makes it easier for the developer. She is trying to keep that from occurring. Commissioner Tully agreed that a financial incentive may make the program more successful.
Sanitary Agreement and An Ordinance Amending Section 25.20 of the Municipal Code Regarding Denial of Water Service. The Manager asked Rita Trainor, Finance Director, to address this matter.
Ms. Trainor said this recommendation is for an intergovernmental agreement between the Village and the Sanitary District providing for the release of water consumption records of the Village to the District for the calculation of sanitary server billings and to provide for the discontinuing of water service for premises where sewer bills are not paid. The Mayor asked whether the Sanitary District has many of these situations, and Ms. Trainor said they have about 4-5 of these per month. The Village would shut off the water, even though they pay their water bill. Attorney Petrarca said the Village is required to do this by State Statute.
Traffic Calming. The Manager asked Dorin Fera, Traffic Manager to address this item.
Dorin Fera , Traffic Engineering Manager, Public Works, said this presentation was first presented in August 2002, and was last presented to the Parking & Traffic Commission in December 2004. The basic thought for the program is that this is seen as a traffic program driven by the neighborhoods. They are taking requests from every neighborhood that has a traffic issue. It is an educational process to everyone involved. They will bring expertise as needed, and the neighborhood will approve the recommendation. He said that every project will be considered as a two-year period, and will be monitored for the first year. In the second year they will make modifications as necessary. The goal is to present a summary of the program activities in the fall of every year to be presented to the Parking and Traffic Commission for a recommendation for funding for the next year.
Commissioner Zabloudil asked about the different traffic calming devices and which might be preferred in terms of maintenance, costs, etc. Mr. Fera said that would depend upon where the device is, nearby streets and discussion with the Public Works and Fire Department as to their needs. There is a fine line between good intervention and what the rest of the Village can live with. He said they will focus on the outlying areas first, and Parking and Traffic will review the issue first.
Commissioner Zabloudil said he would hate to have to come back in ten years with more expensive costs due to some implementation. He said they need to balance the cost versus the benefits.
Commissioner Schnell congratulated staff on this program and asked how they will educate the public on this program. Mr. Fera said that has not yet been fully developed. The document can be read by anyone. It will be on the Village website and they intend to meet with neighborhoods. Commissioner Schnell suggested doing a segment of At Your Service to explain the service. She then asked if in the second year they will put money in the budget, and how they will work through the budgeting process. Mr. Fera responded that year one will be virtually no additional cost, and they have an idea of the costs for certain interventions. He does not anticipate large expenses, and they may be able to combine some of the interventions with road resurfacing projects. Commissioner Schnell was concerned that it could be a large sum of money and they will need to prioritize them and place them into the five-year capital projects plan. She said they need a clear idea of costs and implementation. She said she thinks it is a great program.
Commissioner McConnell said she was glad to see this come forward. Regarding public safety issues, she said they need to be cautious not to have a negative impact on the fire and police response services. Mr. Fera stated that those departments have been involved in the discussions.
Commissioner McConnell asked if there is some formal action to be taken. Attorney Petrarca said it will be a Resolution as it amends a previous policy.
Commissioner Tully said it is a good concept and he appreciates all of the work put into this. He said this is another tool toward reduction and enforcement of speeding. He agreed that there are many details yet to be worked out. With respect to prioritization, he asked if this will be on a first in/first out basis. If a more deserving situation occurs, he asked how will that be handled. Mr. Fera said that the projects would be ranked on a point system, and he reviewed some of the criteria.
Commissioner Tully asked about the availability of funding and whether neighborhood cost-sharing is an option. Mr. Fera said that many of the municipalities with successful programs are 100% funded by the municipality. There is a problem when people get involved, particularly in regard to maintenance, etc. Commissioner Tully said he was not suggesting people get involved in that regard, and Mr. Fera said then it could be an option.
The Mayor agreed that there should be a ranking for the projects rather than first in/first out.
Dr. Gordon Goodman , 5834 Middaugh, said he supports this program. He asked about calming on County roads, and whether there is any conversation with the County regarding lowering of their speed limits. He hopes that would be incorporated into this program.
Bill Wrobel , 7800 Queens Court, supports the efforts of the staff and Traffic Commission in this program. Other communities have such programs. He said that Warrenville has speed tables in effect, and described those tables. He believes the benefits far outweigh the limitations. Mr. Wrobel felt that residents would be overjoyed to have this program put in place, and they will assist in funding if they see the need. He is excited about this, and expressed his support of Dave Barber and the staff. He urged the Council to adopt this plan.
Agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and Innisbrook Homeowners Association regarding the Maintenance of the Innisbrook Creek Stabilization Project. The Manager said that the Village awarded a contract in December of last year to Martam Construction for a project cost of $47,344 with a 10% contingency. The Innisbrook Homeowners agreed to contribute 20% of that amount which is slightly over $9,400.00. They have already contributed the first payment with annual payments to be made over a four-year period.
The Mayor said that he attended an Intergovernmental Relations Committee meeting where there was a report by the DuPage County Stormwater Committee which gives out about $100,000 per year for streambank stabilization. Only three communities applied and all three were funded. He suggests that the Village put in a request for a grant next year.
Commissioner Tully said he was pleased to see that the work has begun, and that the Homeowners Association is pleased with it. He added that this Agreement will memorialize the cost-sharing arrangement with the Association.
CBD Deck Owner’s Representative Amendment No. 3. The Manager asked Mike Millette, Assistant Director, Public Works, to address this matter.
Mr. Millette said he hopes this is the last time they have to come before the Council on this topic. This amendment is in the amount not to exceed $12,090 to cover approximately twelve more days of work. The Village is close to a final settlement with Turner. The figure is based on a best-case scenario. Negotiations and project close-out have gone on longer than anticipated. He indicated that the Village has taken on some of the tasks formerly performed by Sara Davis. The primary concern at this time is continuity in the final negotiations. He and Ms. Davis are the two links that are continuous to the project. Mr. Millette said they are looking to utilize Sara for the final negotiations. If the contract is cancelled there would be a loss in productivity as well as a loss of continuity. He said there is more control of Sara’s time now, and he anticipates up to four more meetings with Turner.
The Mayor asked for clarification that the best guess right now is twelve more days of Sara at $12,000 and negotiations with Turner is all that is left at this time. Mr. Millette said 75% of her time would be with Turner and 25% would be to close out the books. Attorney Petrarca said that she has also been involved in meeting with Turner.
Commissioner Sandack asked if it was fair to say that the necessity to extend this contract is based in large part on Turner not completing punch items in a timely fashion. Mr. Millette said that was correct. He asked if blame had to be associated, how much would be apportioned to Turner. Mr. Millette said if not 100%, it is fairly high. Commissioner Sandack said that Turner has to be given fair warning that each further delay will be taxed to them accordingly. He thinks Sara has done a great job, but it has to end.
Commissioner McConnell said that the Council has some responsibility to provide the staff with adequate and quick turnaround on the questions they bring to the Council.
Transportation System Discussion. The Manager asked Dave Barber, Director, Public Works, to address this item.
Mr. Barber said that as part of the budget review process, the Transportation Commission discussion was delayed until this evening. He introduced Larry Gress, Co-Chair of the Transportation Advisory Commission (the “Commission”). Mr. Gress noted that several other members of the Commission were present at the meeting.
Larry Gress , Co-chair, Transportation Advisory Commission, said the Commission’s mission was to consider the transportation and commuter matters of the Village and to make a recommendation to the Council regarding the bus system, parking lots and parking deck. In addition they were commissioned to review and/or develop comprehensive plans as they relate to those issues, as well as consider benefits of the actions taken to both individuals and the public. They also were charged to consider the private and public costs and sources of revenue to support policies and actions, and encourage the dissemination of information to the citizens. Mr. Gress reviewed the background of the Commission members in the area of transportation and financial management.
Mr. Gress said the Commission’s responsibility covers three areas: 1) Grove Commuter Shuttle; 2) surface commuter parking; 3) the Parking Deck. He noted the presence of Bob Dean with the DuPage Mayors and Managers, and Michael Bolton, Assistant Executive Director of Strategic Planning of Pace. In the past six months, the Commission resolved the parking hang tag issue, implemented performance measurements and monthly reporting, planned a Park-n-Ride expansion, implemented bus stop signage, developed a ridership appreciation program, began the marketing awareness campaign, placed ads both inside and outside of the buses, generated additional revenue through advertising, and requested the CMAQ grant for three buses to be available in 2006.
Near term initiatives include a southwest Park-n-Ride at 63rd Street, and the north side Park-n-Ride at Ogden Avenue. They intend to improve signage relative to the Park-n-Ride, and to analyze bus routes to serve a greater population. In addition they will participate in the DuPage County Mayors and Managers Bus Service, and initiate one additional early morning and later evening service.
Mr. Barber then discussed the Commuter Bus Shuttle program. He said that the fleet of eight buses are about 13 years old with approximately 180,000 miles on each bus. The annual maintenance and fuel costs are at $26,800 per bus. The revenue for 2005/06 is anticipated to be $243,650, with expenses of $643,527, resulting in a deficit of $399,877. He said that there are three categories of revenues which include the Pace reimbursement at $68,000, advertising sales of $39,600, and fees/expenses at $135,050 for a total of $243,650. They have contemplated incorporating the Bristol Club in the existing route.
Expenses include $199,625 for personnel, $1250 for supplies, $5910 for professional, technical and communication expenses, $15,850 for contract services and advertising, and other financials including the interfund transfer and vehicle maintenance, at $420,892.
Mr. Barber said that in 2001 there were about 146,000 one-way trips. In 2002, 133,858; 2003, 108,435; 2004, 82,456. He said the drop between 2001 and 2004 is 288 customers versus 163 customers. He indicated that ridership has stabilized in the last few months.
In addition to the buses, the Belmont Parking Lot including Lots G & H, there are 81 permit spaces and 114 meters in Lot G, and 337 permit spaces and 39 meters in Lot H. At Fairview, there are 125 permit spaces and 125 meters. Main Street area includes ten Village lots, with 448 permit spaces in the lots, 310 meters in the lots, and 986 employee, shopper and other spaces. This comes up to about 3000 parking spaces.
Mr. Barber then reviewed the cost to commuters. A monthly commuter shuttle would cost approximately $2.14 per day, versus $1.27 per day for the closer parking lot locations.
Bob Kollmar, 1420 Concord Drive, Co-chair, then discussed possible future action as determined by the Commission. He first of all noted that commuter use is growing, and they need to establish a long-term comprehensive multi-modal transportation plan. There are a lot of resources at the disposal of the Village. Use of the surface and structured parking, the Park-n-Ride and the shuttle supports the Village’s economic growth while providing commuters with the most effective alternatives. Mr. Kollmar said that the parking deck opened in October, and 100 new commuter spaces have been added as of March 5. He said that an equitable fare structure is a necessity.
The Commission, in concert with the Village staff, believes that people want to use the bus, but they need a long-term commitment for the commuter service. The Village needs to implement Park-n-Ride to support residents living outside the immediate bus system area. They must adjust routes to incorporate the Bristol Club and add earlier and later runs as well. In addition, it is important to increase public education. He noted that the Grove Commuter Shuttle has eliminated approximately 375,000 vehicle miles in the Village, which is the equivalent of 15 times around the earth. The Commission believes with the increasing fuel prices, usage of the service can also increase if proper adjustments are made to the program as a whole. Mr. Kollmar said that maintenance and fuel costs for the buses are exorbitant and need to be addressed, particularly through the replacement of the five most expensive buses immediately. They can save $15,000 per year in real dollars by reducing parts, repairs and fuel expenses. One avenue is to downsize the 3 buses in 2006 with 28-seat passenger vans. Changes can reduce the deficit by $221,000 in 2005-06, $259,000 in 2005-07 and upwards up $300,000 in 2007-08. The Commission believes by adjusting the routes they can increase service and increase ridership. Doing nothing guarantees failure. Mr. Kollmar recommended that the Council look at a five-year strategic plan, keeping in mind the proposed Belmont underpass, and the Curtiss Block redevelopment. He thanked the Council for establishing the Commission and Mr. Barber and his team for their assistance.
The Mayor said that at Belmont there are 337 surface spots with 416 permits sold. He asked if there have been any issues where someone who paid for a permit did not get a spot. Mr. Barber said that spots are guaranteed until 8:30 a.m., and the only problem he can recall was once where the person showed up after 8:30 a.m.
Mayor Krajewski asked how many of the commuters are Darien/Woodridge residents. Mr. Barber said he didn’t know. The Mayor asked for a detailed breakdown of the 5900 program account to see how much is the indirect cost of the general fund. Mr. Barber said he can provide that information.
The Mayor said he is against raising the parking rates, saying the cost to the resident has to consider the wear and tear on the cars as well. He said that they have done a great job so far, but is not sure the plans they recommend can have a dramatic change overnight. He said one of the biggest issues is the age and condition of the buses.
Commissioner Zabloudil said this was a nice presentation. He would be interested in seeing the ridership numbers in 1993 in the same analysis as was provided to determine a base number they can achieve to be cost effective. Mr. Barber said he is not sure how accurate the numbers are prior to 2000.
Commissioner Zabloudil said the question will be what ridership was ten years ago, and will the efforts made enable them to reach those numbers again. This may not be realistic in thinking that ridership will grow to a cost effective point. He said that they need to breakout costs of the Village Manager, Attorney, and Director of Public Works and decide how to allocate taxpayers’ money.
Bob Dean , Transportation Planner for the DuPage Mayor and Managers, said the major issue his organization works on is public transportation. The DuPage area transit plan was adopted two years ago and they are working to implement the plan and make it happen. They are doing a survey of the services that are already being provided or needed in 13 county municipalities.
Mike Bolton , 6631 Springside, said he is the Deputy Executive Director for Pace in Strategic Services. One of his responsibilities was to find a way to grow ridership and cut costs by about $10 million. Pace is facing a $10 million budget this year and has the opportunity to use federal funds. He said that currently they are doing a southwest DuPage study and making recommendations for changes in the feeder service. Mr. Bolton said it was interesting to him to see the price on commuter shuttles. Drops in ridership are directly related to an increase in cost. He mentioned that part of the reason there was less participation between Pace and Downers Grove was that Pace was precluded from charter service by federal law. Pace is retiring a large number of its buses that are in good condition. Since the Village is no longer in the charter business, Pace will be able to provide five replacement buses over the next few months although he could not say exactly when as their new buses will be delayed for a time. In addition, Mr. Bolton said that the RTA is finishing up the Cook/DuPage Corridor study. Pace will be doing the western study at its completion in the spring of 2006. He said with respect to the early-morning/late-evening service, Pace is developing a “guaranteed ride home program” with the cab companies. He said that Pace is willing to work with Downers Grove and looks forward to it.
Commissioner Sandack asked staff for information on the current ridership figures. Mr. Barber said the January report shows the 165 range. There was no increase when the fare was reduced. He said that when they lose a customer, they are lost and do not return to the system. That is why they have worked on the Park-n-Ride concept. Commissioner Sandack said he thought advertising was a good source of revenue, and asked about the methods for increasing this. Mr. Barber said they will encourage this to continue. With a long-term commitment he believes there will be more advertising. There is more opportunity inside the buses. He said that Doug Kozlowski and his staff has done a great job in marketing the program. Commissioner Sandack said he looks forward to seeing a breakout of the costs. It appears as though good, thoughtful steps have been taken. This is a tough decision with the aging fleet, decreased ridership and increased costs to invest again in the project to make it viable over a longer term. He said it is important that the community knows that this is still a risk. Mr. Barber said one suggestion is to move to the 28-passenger bus. It uses natural gas fuel, is open, airy, and is a better bus. The 15-passenger bus is more problematic. A good solution is to take the Pace buses.
Mr. Bolton said that the CMAQ grants were mentioned. Pace partnered with DuPage Mayors and Managers this year, and he suggested that if they do the grant for next year it be a partnership, so when it goes into the committee the suburban communities are essentially supporting that grant as a regional group rather than a single community.
Commissioner Schnell said the Commission made a great presentation. The bus system does something positive for the environment, and they need to make a long-term commitment to make it work. It is a difficult decision to make. The beginning of the disservice to the community was the doubling of the rates and it was reversed too late. The last commitment was only for a year. It will not be successful without a long-term commitment. Regarding reducing the deficit in FY 2005 -06 by $220,000, she suggested backing out the costs associated with salaries to see what the deficit would be. Mr. Barber said this was a combination of increasing rates for commuter parkers, and increasing ridership.
Commissioner Schnell asked if there is a way to estimate savings by going to the smaller buses which were cost effective, increased ridership, no increase in parking fees, and backing out administrative staff salaries. Mr. Barber said they could do a 5-10 year projection. She said at one time there were 300 riders. If the gas prices go up, they may see an increase in ridership. The Curtiss development may cause people to perceive a parking problem. She would like to see a bus system that works for the suburban community.
Commissioner McConnell asked if there are time frames for the implementation of the near-term initiatives. Mr. Barber responded that they are looking for sites on the north side, and are talking to people at the south side Jewel, as well as 63rd and Belmont. They feel some of this can be implemented in the next quarter. They also need to talk to the Bristol Club, and combine routes to increase service.
Commissioner McConnell asked if by mid-year they will have a new Park-n-Ride. Mr. Barber said they have a number of steps that need to be taken. Commissioner McConnell asked what the expectation is for increasing the ridership. Mr. Barber said it will take a couple of years to increase the ridership. Regarding program revenue, Commissioner McConnell asked if the revenues are close to run rates. Mr. Barber said he only included from the numbers the daily fee and monthly ride. They kept the ridership flat but incorporated the Bristol Club. Commissioner McConnell asked about the advertising sales and whether they are less than the estimated $39,600. Mr. Barber said they are at $10,000 now, but started late. He does think there will be more sales for the advertising.
Commissioner McConnell then asked about future directions and significant recommended increases in parking rates. She asked about the rates shown and how they compare to other towns. Mr. Barber said the Village is about par with other communities, but the increase would make them higher than others. We have the fourth busiest station, and this would make the Village higher in cost than others. He is not sure that changing parking rates will put people back on the bus. It may encourage new riders and discourage people from moving into the parking system. Concerning the replacement of five buses, she asked about the Pace buses. Mr. Barber said they are 47-passenger buses and would be an alternative to the proposed plan. He added that the Pace buses would enable the Village to provide Heritage Festival transportation services. In further response, he said that he would prepare the average costs of the Pace buses. The lease costs of $16,000 were for all five buses. He further indicated to the Commissioner that if things were implemented as planned by 2007-08, they could be at an almost break even cost. Commissioner McConnell said that this has been very creative work. She asked what the environmental impact would be and costs in terms of street maintenance savings. Mr. Barber said it would be very minimal. In regard to additional cost breakdowns, Mr. Barber said it would take him two weeks to get the figures for the Council.
Commissioner Urban said he came here tonight in a different mode than a year ago. His thoughts have changed based upon this presentation. He does not think that they will see a break even numbers, but he believes they need a policy for tolerable investment in the community. Now it is costing more than $2,000 per commuter. He said Doug Kozlowski does a great job, but does not think it is the best use of Doug’s time to market this. It should be done by an outside ad agency. He would like to see the real numbers on advertising, and also hard numbers in terms of what other communities are charging their residents. He said that he can’t justify getting on a bus at the price charged when I can park next to the station. Mr. Barber said the Village of Downers Grove is the only community he knows that is operating its own bus system.
Mr. Bolton added that Waukegan, Elgin, Aurora, and Joliet were all city-operated system and all were either bankrupt or in dire financial straits and transferred to Pace in 1984 under the RTA Act. Commissioner Urban asked whether there is Pace service in the Village. Mr. Bolton responded that there is a route that goes to Yorktown. If the Village were to eliminate its bus system, Mr. Bolton said that Pace is doing what it can do to assist the DuPage Mayors and Managers implement their plan. Pace is looking for partnerships. One thing he noted is that under federal regulations, providing service to the elderly and disabled is not a violation of those regulations. Pace has a van program in which vans are made available to communities in their Municipal Van Pool Program. In further response to Commissioner Urban, Mr. Bolton said that the buses would be available within 2-3 months, based upon the delivery of their new bus order. Maintenance of the buses would be up to the Village and all previous maintenance records would be provided as well. He said that there is a major maintenance facility, which is used to taking care of buses.
Commissioner Tully extended his appreciation to the Commission and to Mr. Barber for their work. He said what has been accomplished is truly impressive. They are still facing declining ridership and increasing costs and maintenance costs. The question is whether the community wants to make a long-term commitment to the service. The community will not support a long-term commitment if it is too expensive. He does not agree that the increase in the rate was the reason for the decline in ridership. With regard to increasing parking rates, he questions why to do this if it does not encourage people to take the bus. He is more in favor of public promotion. He sees some of the suggestions for lowering the costs as very creative, and thinks the community will support it if it is cost effective. He is excited about the potential of inheriting the Pace buses to move forward. Commissioner Tully noted that all transportation systems are subsidized. He would like to see this service work.
The Mayor asked what the cost of Paces buses would be. Mr. Bolton said through an Intergovernmental Agreement they might cost as much as $1.00 each. The Mayor said the capital expenditure to replace the buses is the major cost. He noted that enterprise funds are supposed to be self-sufficient. He asked what the deficit in the transportation fund is, and Mr. Barber said it is at $1 million now, and $1.4 million at the end of this year. The Mayor asked what the auditors are looking for in terms of the plan. Ms. Trainor responded they would look for a specific funding source directed by Council to put it on a positive financial footing. The Mayor asked whether it could be merged with the General Fund, and Ms. Trainor said that was something that could be done. She said they went from $300,000 to $600,000 deficit this fiscal year. The Village needs to identify a financial source, or remove it as an Enterprise Fund.
Commissioner Zabloudil said that the auditors will continue to bring this up unless the Council tells them we have a plan to transfer funds into the program to reduce the deficit. He then asked about the mileage on the buses from Pace which are 12 years old. Mr. Bolton said at about 500,000. Mr. Zabloudil said that the Village’s buses are at 180,000 miles, and he asked why Pace is getting rid of the buses. Mr. Bolton said they replace buses at 12 years due to federal funds that become available. The buses have been under a strict inspection cycle. At an auction they would not take less than $5,000-7,000. He described how US buses are purchased by Canadian companies and used for up to another ten years. Commissioner Zabloudil said that the Village will need to continue to maintain the buses at some place. He then asked what is the definition of “what’s appropriate” for route investment. Mr. Bolton said they are presently looking at demographics to determine customer satisfaction, and they conduct a yearly analysis of this. They have what is called market-based restructuring. Commissioner Zabloudil asked whether they can assist the Village in understanding its market. Mr. Bolton said they are taking a deliberate look at how routes work and why they worked when they did. The bus-to-rail study was done five years ago, and it said that it is necessary to pull as much parking out of the downtown area and put it in remote Park-n-Ride lots, letting the buses get into the station and get out. Straighten the routes out and redesign them so people within a quarter mile of the route can get to it easily. They also must meet as many express trains as possible.
Commissioner Zabloudil said the Village does not have transportation expertise, and asked why not have Pace take over the system. Mr. Bolton’s response was “let’s talk.” Commissioner Zabloudil said the Village should not be running a bus system, and he believes they need to look at this. Mr. Bolton said that Pace could work with the Commission and provide information to the staff.
Commissioner Schnell said the Village entered into an Agreement with Metra about two years ago, and asked if there was a time-span specified wherein the Village could not raise rates. Ms. Petrarca responded that the Village needs their consent to raise rates; however, there is no time frame specified.
The Mayor said that he recalls Metra did not like the distinction between residents and non-residents since they own the lots along the train tracks.
Commissioner Tully said that the Committee looked at the viability of Pace taking over the service about a year ago. He recalls that it would have cost substantially more than it is now, and the service would be substantially less. He did add that it might not be a bad idea, however, to look at this again.
Commissioner Zabloudil said the Village does not have the expertise and they do. If they cannot do it, the Village can’t.
Commissioner Tully said that costs had to do with Pace having to add routes.
STANDING COMMITTEE REPORTS
Public Services Committee
Commissioner Tully said the Public Services Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. on March 15 to discuss the Capital Project Plan from the standpoint of Public Services.
MANAGER ’S REPORT
The Manager announced that Deputy Manager Dave Van Vooren has accepted a position as Public Works Director in Naperville, and this would be his last meeting with Downers Grove. He has filled many roles since joining the Village in 2001. The Manager said he has done an incredible job and is a true team player. His leaving will be a loss to the Village.
Manager Ginex added that Dan Lofgren is also leaving the Village. Dan has accepted a position with the Interactive Broadcasting Company TV of Chicago. He’s been with the Village since 2002 and has edited nearly 200 programs. He reviewed Dan’s accomplishments and numerous awards.
ATTORNEY ’S REPORT
Village Attorney Enza Petrarca said she was presenting six items to the Council: 1) An ordinance to amend Chapter 24 of the Downers Grove Municipal Code regarding trees and shrubs; 2) A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and Downers Grove Sanitary District; 3) An ordinance amending Section 25.20 of the Downers Grove Municipal Code regarding denial of water service; 4) A resolution establishing the policy of the Village Council with respect to traffic calming; 5) A resolution authorizing an agreement between the Village of Downers Grove and the Innisbrook Homeowners Association; and 6) A resolution authorizing execution of a third addendum to an agreement for professional services between the Village of Downers Grove and Alfred Benesch & Company.
Commissioner Sandack congratulated District 58 Foundation for their Second City event. He extended his thanks to Dave Van Vooren who was a tremendous asset to the Village. He wished both Dave and Dan Lofgren best wishes.
Commissioner Schnell thanked Mr. Van Vooren for his contributions, and congratulated Dan for his achievements and his new position. She wished both men the best of luck.
Commissioner Schnell said the Community Dialogue on Redevelopment is March 23rd at Lincoln Center.
Commissioner McConnell echoed her thanks to Dave Van Vooren for all he’s done for the Village, and the challenges he has addressed over the last four years. She said that she would miss seeing Dan Lofgren behind the camera.
Commissioner Urban also commented on Dave’s contributions to the Village saying he has become a very close friend in a short time, and his shoes will be hard to fill. To Dan he wished him well and to keep the smile on his face.
Commissioner Tully thanked Mr. Van Vooren for all he has done in the Village and for keeping them out of trouble in some instances. He said Mr. Van Vooren was the President/Vice-President/Treasurer of the Overcommitted Employees’ Society. He described Mr. Van Vooren as a “straight-shooter” which he grew to appreciate. He wished him the best in that town to the west. The Commissioner said that a point of pride for the Village of Downers Grove is that the reason Dan has achieved the success he has is because of his work and experience in the Village. He thanked him and wished him the best.
The Mayor thanked both Dave Van Vooren for his service to the Village, and to Dan Lofgren for always getting the meeting up and running on time.
The Mayor announced that the second week of April the Workshop will be held on Monday, April 11th because the DuPage Mayors and Managers will be going to Springfield and the Council members will also be attending.
Liquor Commission Report Mayor Krajewski said that White Hen Pantry has applied for a liquor license at 5105 Fairview Avenue. He said the application will be placed on file for two weeks in the Clerk’s office,. After the two week waiting period the liquor license will be re-issued to White Hen Pantry.
Commissioner Tully moved to adjourn to Executive Session pursuant to Section 2©(1) of the Open Meetings Act to consider personnel. Commissioner Urban seconded.
VOTE : YEA – Commissioners Tully, Urban, Sandack, Zabloudil, McConnell, Schnell, Mayor Krajewski
Mayor Krajewski declared the motion carried and the Council convened into Executive Session at at 10:30 p.m.
April K. Holden Village Clerk tmh