Ballooning costs to repair the elevator at police/fire headquarters are scheduled to prompt a discussion of much broader issues with that building and the Civic Center at Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting.
Last fall Colley Elevator Co. of Bensonville estimated it would cost $177,000 to repair the elevator, which was struggling to reach the second floor of the building.
The headquarters was completed in 1949 without an elevator, and the elevator was added in 1985.
After repair work began, city staff says, contractors discovered that the concrete block walls surrounding the elevator were not secured to the rest of the building at the second floor level and were being held in place only by the rail the elevator runs on.
So the city agreed this spring to spend an additional $245,300 to rebuild the second floor walls and investigate the condition of the block walls on the first floor and basement.
And you can guess what happened next. The contractors discovered that the rest of the walls were also in bad shape and need to be reconstructed correctly from the foundation up.
New repair cost estimate — $1 million to $1.5 million.
The project is expected to take seven to nine months and may require relocation of the men’s lockup, the evidence processing room and other facilities in the building.
In a memo to the Council, City Engineer Lara Biggs notes that the headquarters building was designed for roughly 100 employees but now houses about 220 police and fire department workers.
The building also doesn’t comply with Americans with Disabilities Act rules, Biggs says, and the layout and limited space make it impossible to bring the building into compliance.
City staff estimate that the police/fire headquarters building will need $5.5 million in additional repairs over the next five years.
In 2021 staff estimated needed improvements at the Civic Center exceed $23 million.
In October 2021 the the City Council voted 5-4 to spend $367,000 on a consulting report from AECOM studying the feasibility of building a new civic center and police and fire headquarters somewhere in or near downtown.
Fans of having city staff remain in the existing Civic Center building tried but failed to derail the AECOM contract after the Council vote.
Last June the AECOM contract was amended to add consideration of building a new police headquarters adjacent to the existing Civic Center.
That study apparently has not yet been completed, but Biggs says the consultant has provided staff with “potential options” for renovating or relocating the two buildings and will seek “additional feedback” from council members Monday night to help “refine the recommendations.”
In recent years the city has replaced its Robert Crown Community Center and is has approved plans to build a new Animal Shelter.
But Biggs says that major facilities issues also need to be addressed at the Ecology Center, the Noyes Cultural Arts Center and the Service Center.
The council meeting is scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m. at the Civic Center.