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Local News

Lockport officials table sidewalk-bike path proposal; swap land with Chevron

A proposal to enhance portions of Farrell Road and Division and Briggs Streets in Lockport with new sidewalks and bike paths for better pedestrian access and safety has been deferred due to higher than expected costs.

On Wednesday night, the Lockport City Council unanimously agreed to table a resolution to award a $741,887.43 contract to low bidder D Construction Inc. and authorize an additional $100,000 contract with Strand and Associates for engineering inspection services for the long-planned project.

Mayor Steven Streit and Alderman Jim Petrakos were not present, and Alderman J.R. Gillogly abstained because of a business interest in the project.

The proposal includes adding a bike path along the west side of Farrell Road, in front of the Lockport Township High School’s east campus that currently does not have a sidewalk and filling in portions of Division and Briggs Streets that do not have sidewalks.

The majority of the council was hesitant to approve a project 80 percent of which was to have been covered by a $456,000 grant received from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program seven years ago. With increased costs, the city’s share is now about 50 percent.

The council requested that City Administrator Ben Benson send a letter to ITEP asking whether the city could receive more funding through the grant or whether the project could be pared to make it less costly.

Alderman Darren Deskin said he had “some serious questions about the project,” which he would not have approved if he had been on the council when it was first proposed.

Deskin said that he didn’t want to “kill the project” and lose the grant money, but that the project would need to be scaled down to receive his approval.

Alderman Jason VanderMeer, who previously was the only one to vote against the allotment of motor tax fuel funds for the project, said that he was also willing to consider a smaller version of the project with less costs to the city.

Alderwoman Joanne Bartelsen agreed that parts of the project seemed unnecessary since the portion of Farrell Road in question already had a sidewalk on the other side.

The city could apply for $132,000 to be added to the grant but will first send a letter to ITEP to get a better idea of which option to pursue, Benson said after the meeting.

Lockport swaps land with Chevron

Council members also unanimously approved an ordinance to amend a 2008 annexation agreement with Chevron Environmental Management Company that would authorize a land swap between the city and the company.

The city would give up about 13 acres of land, one part of which is adjacent to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, in return for a similar-sized property at the south end of the Star Business Park, near the historic Heritage Village and I&M Canal.

It is more beneficial for the city to have that property because it is closer to residential areas and the Heritage Village, Benson said after the meeting.

“It gives the city more control over possible future uses for that property,” he said.

The property is currently an empty gravel lot and will probably be used for the time being as extra parking for festival days, Benson said.

The city may also look to market the site to light manufacturing businesses since the mayor has expressed an interest in the past to bring more “smaller footprint industries” to Lockport, he added.

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