LOCKPORT – The Lockport City Council is reluctantly taking steps to move forward with a seven-year-old project to connect portions of Farrell Road and Division and Briggs streets with new sidewalks and bike paths for better pedestrian access and safety.
The city council, with a split 7-1 vote, Wednesday night approved a resolution to allot $490,000 in motor fuel tax funds for the project, according to a video of the meeting on the city's website. The council also approved an intergovernmental agreement with Will County since parts of the project fall under the county's right of way.
Alderman Jason VanderMeer, who is the council's finance liaison, voted against both measures, according to the video.
The project, first proposed in 2010 when the city received a $456,000 grant from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, has grown more expensive in seven years.
The grant, a portion of which has already been used for preliminary engineering, was to cover about 80 percent of an estimated $570,000 total cost, according to comments from Director of Engineering Amy Wagner on the video. According to the resolution, the estimated costs have increased to about $850,000. However, that amount may be an inflated number, she said.
The project will likely cost about $700,000, said City Administrator Ben Benson in a phone interview.
The escalated costs had Aldermen VanderMeer, Darren Deskin, Kris Capadona and Jim Petrakos discussing whether the project was worth doing anymore.
"I just don’t know if with all of the priorities we have, this is where I would spend $450,000," VanderMeer said during a lengthy discussion in the committee of the whole portion of Wednesday night's meetings.
Alderman Bob Perretta urged moving forward because he felt that rejecting the project after the state has held the grant for the city for seven years, may cause the city to "lose credibility" and make it difficult to receive state grants in the future.
Mayor Steven Streit, in a phone interview, said that he wants to move forward with the project "instead of forgoing the grant" and that it "is good for safety and a pedestrian-friendly city."
The proposal includes adding a bike path along the west side of Farrell Road, in front of the Lockport Township High School east campus that currently does not have a sidewalk. New sidewalks will also be added to portions of the south side of Division Street from Farrell Road to Briggs Street to create a continuous pedestrian walkway from that part of the city to downtown.
The project will still need approval from the city council once it goes out to bid. If approved, construction would start in the summer, Benson said.
Cakes XO to take over Metra coffee shop
The Cakes XO bakery located on Archer Avenue has made a request to the city to take over the commuter coffee shop in the city's Metra station, where it plans to sell items baked on site.
The resolution for a new one-year lease at $100 per month for the bakery was presented for consideration to the city council's committee of the whole Wednesday night. It includes authorization for Cakes XO to add an oven and sink and make other improvements necessary for it to be able to provide fresh baked goods.
Cakes XO will serve muffins, scones, cookies and premium coffee to start with, but will also look to commuters for guidance, said owner Joanne Saccomanno in a phone interview.
"We will go in and ask commuters what they need," she said. "If they want sandwiches, we'll make sandwiches."
The resolution is set to be approved as part of the city council's consent agenda at its meeting March 15.
Saccomanno said she hopes to open up the shop by April.