Prevailing wage, Lippold Park, North Aurora discussion

North Aurora Village trustee Mark Guethle said Prevailing wage helps the community.
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By Jason Crane – 
The North Aurora government’s Committee of the Whole meeting Monday included a discussion about prevailing wage for the Town Center Economic Incentive Agreement.

Village documents show Preferred Real Estate, owners of the inline shopping center between Target and J.C. Penney in North Aurora Towne Centre, have been working with UFC Gym to secure a 15-year lease on 35,000 square feet of the former MC Sports and Office Depot spaces.

As part of the lease agreement with UFC Gym, Preferred Real Estate is required to improve the tenant space to the satisfaction of the tenant. According to Preferred Real Estate, they cannot get the lender to agree to the needed additional funds for the tenant improvements, without the Village approving an economic incentive agreement.

Village staff members have been working with Preferred Real Estate for several months on amending the current Economic Incentive Agreement. The request is being made by Preferred Real Estate, LLC, as a way to offset the $1,550,000 anticipated build-out cost for UFC Gym. Several versions of the amendment have been discussed between Village staff members and Preferred Real Estate.

The majority of the Board members spoke in favor of the Prevailing Wage Agreement to be included in the contract.

Village trustee Mark Guethle said, “Prevailing wage helps the community. People in the community like to bid on projects like this to make sure we get equal pay for that type of work.

“Prevailing wage is a step up for a lot of people here. We need to think about our labor profile and bring in jobs that pay well for people with benefits. I would like to see us adopt this project as a prevailing wage project.”

Trustee Michael Lowery said he’s in complete agreement with the concept of having a prevailing wage in the contract.

Village trustee Laura Curtis disagreed. “If it’s not necessary, why include it, because it’s going to affect the competition. I don’t see why we should force businesses in our community to have to pay more for a project. Let them coordinate and hire who they want to hire.”

Trustee Guethle replied, “Over 75 percent of the studies concluded that prevailing wage has no impact on the cost of the projects. In other words, the labor portion of a project is minuscule.

Doug Vitale from Preferred Real Estate said, “Prevailing wage in many cases does affect the cost of the project and will drive the cost up.

“A lot of the trades we use, plumbers, electricians, HVAC contractors, are already at that rate or higher.

“It’s a lot of the finishing trades, painting contractors, flooring contractors. We like to try and open that up to bid. The people we bring in to do the work are the same people we brought in over the last 10 years to build out the spaces in the center. It’s not substandard work and it’s certainly is not a substandard labor force.

“But it will force the cost of the project to go higher than what we have now.”

Trustee Guethle replied, “From the Indiana State House, ‘We got rid of prevailing wage, so far, we haven’t saved a penny,’ Ed Soliday, assistant Republican floor leader, Indiana House.”

Trustee Mark Gaffino said, “I agree to trustee Guethle’s point, one project that was built here in town and the tile and carpet people were all out of Texas. That doesn’t help our community. This (prevailing wage) helps to bring in local trades.”

The majority of trustees agreed to include the prevailing wage because of the subsidy the Village is paying.

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• A final vote could be as early as the March 18 Village Board meeting.

Riverfront Park Plaza Concept Design
The Village acquired Riverfront Park in 2016 from the Fox Valley Park District. Later in 2017, the Riverfront Park Landscape Master Plan was completed by in-house planning consultants Teska Associates, Inc. The plan includes options such as creating a public seating/viewing plaza, entertainment pavilion, boardwalk, pathways, public art improvements, hillside seating and upgrades to the Water Wonders feature in the park.

In order to facilitate implementation of the Riverfront Park Landscape Master Plan, the various elements of the project have been included in the Long-Term Capital Improvement Program. To initiate park development, the north plaza and park entry design have been included in the 2018 & 2019 phase and $175,000 has been allocated towards the construction of said plan component and $25,000 for the design. July 16, 2018, the Village Board approved an agreement with Teska Associates, Inc. to proceed with design in order to initiate the Riverfront Park north plaza and park entry improvements.

Village staff members have been working with Teska and members of the North Aurora River District Alliance on the north plaza and park entry design. What began as a flat/rigid concept on the original park plan, the plaza has morphed into a space that’s mindful of the natural site features with fluid lines meandering through the park connecting various nodes and comfort features. The Lions Club participated in one of the planning discussions specifically to designate a portion of the park for an interactive sensory play area. This area is labeled “future nature play” on the plan.

• A final vote could be as early as the March 18 Village Board meeting.

Annexation of Lippold Park
Lippold Park is owned and operated by the Fox Valley Park District. It is in unincorporated Kane County on the east bank of the Fox River, north of Red Oak Nature Center and directly west of IL Route 25. The Boundary Line Agreement between North Aurora and Batavia does not address land east of Randall Road. Batavia staff members do not have an issue with Lippold Park being in North Aurora.

The Park District would prefer that Lippold Park be within the corporate limits of the village of North Aurora in order to be within the common boundary of a community it serves. The Village’s Municipal Code allows the consumption of alcohol in parks during special events. February 11, 2019, the Fox Valley Park District Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to annex Lippold Park (and adjacent islands) into North Aurora. February 13, 2019, staff members received a written request from the Park District to annex the 43-acre Lippold Park into North Aurora.

• A final vote could be as early as the March 18 Village Board meeting.

Administrator for the Village, Steve Bosco, shared information about two Village employees who will be retiring in May. They are: Cindy Torraco and Nancy Garrity.

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