U46 to bring out wrecking ball for unused buildings in Elgin, Bartlett
By Dave Gathman email@example.com October 22, 2013 1:52AM
Updated: November 24, 2013 6:19AM
ELGIN — Four sets of unused Elgin and Bartlett buildings owned by School District U46 will be torn down soon, even if who will be doing that is a bit controversial.
Meeting Monday night, the U46 Board of Education had no objection to a proposal by staff members to tear down three former houses and a group of sheds. But they expressed some doubts about hiring the demolition company recommended by the staffers, because two people speaking during the public-comment portion of the meeting had raised questions about the company’s ethics and quality of work.
A final decision about whether to apply for Elgin and Bartlett demolition permits and to choose a demolition firm is likely when the board meets again, on Nov. 4.
Chief Operations Officer Jeff King and Director of Plant Operations Hanan Javetz said the following buildings have been owned by the school district for years but are now unused and in bad condition. “Basically, we want to turn these back into green space,” King said:
A house at 737 Center St. in Elgin, adjacent to McKinley Elementary School. King said the house was used for awhile for U46’s “Center Home” program but has been vacant since that program moved. He said Elgin city officials had been interested for a while in possibly buying and moving the house but now have decided against it.
A house at 612 Hill Ave. in Elgin, behind Larsen Middle School. One of several properties on that block purchased when the district was expanding Larsen’s parking lot, King said, the land is now needed to extend a water line.
A house at 133 S. Eastern Ave. in Bartlett, adjacent to Bartlett Elementary School. King said the district bought this in 2000 to provide room to expand the school. The house itself survived that expansion. But so much of its yard was used up and the house is now in such bad condition that it would be unsalable, he said.
Finally, King and Javetz recommend tearing down several sheds at 647 Laurel St. in Elgin, behind Ellis Middle School. They said these structures are left over from when the U46 school bus garage was located there.
Low bidder question
No board members questioned the wisdom of tearing down these structures. But board member Traci O’Neal-Ellis said she would like more information about the low bidder that Javetz and Director of Business Services Rickey Sparks recommended to do the demolition — Molenhouse Environmental Inc., with a bid of $87,000.
Two men who spoke during the meeting’s public-comment time — one representing the International Union of Operating Engineers, the other representing the Illinois-Iowa Federation for Fair Contracting — told the board they believe that a man who was convicted of criminal failure to remove asbestos during one Chicago project is involved with the Molenhouse firm. They also claimed that Molenhouse’s workers don’t undergo the same training and apprenticeship as other demolition workers.
“The lowest bid is not always the best bid,” said the union spokesman, Rick Dunlap of Plainfield.
But Javetz said the Molenhouse firm has been in business for 34 years and that past customers gave it a good recommendation. Javetz said that according to Molenhouse’s president, the man with the asbestos conviction is not one of the company’s owners and would play no role in the U46 work.