Every day, First Ward Alderman Kent Novit catches the Metra train from the East Lake Forest Train Station, and he has become alarmed by the state of repair that the building has fallen into in recent years.
“The appearance of the station is horrible,” he said at Monday night's City Council meeting. “This is what is the center of our city.”
Although it may not happen as soon as Novit would like, the city of Lake Forest took a step closer Monday night to Phase I of the rehabilitation of the East Lake Forest Train Station. City Council members approved the authorization to execute an agreement with Metra to begin the project.
The first phase of the project is to replace the station’s roof, which has been leaking for some time.
City leaders needed to take several preliminary steps before beginning work to renovate the building. One of those steps included entering into a lease agreement with Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the train station property.
The city’s previous lease with Union Pacific expired in August 2010, and it had been operating on an extended lease until both parties could come to a mutual agreement.
In addition, city officials needed to secure funding for the rehabilitation project after dedicating $160,000 from their own capital fund.
They also have received a $250,000 contribution from Metra and recently received news that they had received an $835,090 grant from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program that they applied for in 2009.
The combined funds give the rehabilitation project a balance of about $1.2 million.
An architectural review to identify some of the needs of the East Lake Forest Train Station was completed in 2008 by the Lake Forest Preservation Foundation.
The study showed that, in addition to the repairs to the roof, painting and masonry work, tuckpointing also was needed.
Because the repair of the roof is the most urgent need, the city will focus on its replacement, with the remaining work will follow soon after.
“We’ll do as much as we can with the funding left over,” City Manager Bob Kiely explained.
Now that the City Council has authorized the first phase of the station renovations, the city will submit its final documents to Metra, and to the Illinois Department of Transportation, and will begin soliciting bids for the roof replacement later this week.
A contract for the roofing work is expected to be awarded in July.
“We should begin in August, hopefully after Lake Forest Day,” said Assistant City Manager Carina Walters.
Although the projected start date is just two months away, this is too late for Novit, who would like to see the project begin sooner rather than later.
“It’s needed, and I can’t wait to get going on it,” he said.