City council: Hickory Grove demolition bid approved

Project slated for late January through April

Jeff Helfrich
Posted 12/13/21

The Rochelle City Council unanimously approved a $361,900 bid for the demolition of the Hickory Grove facility at 1127 N. 7th St. at its Monday meeting.

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City council: Hickory Grove demolition bid approved

Project slated for late January through April


ROCHELLE — The Rochelle City Council unanimously approved a $361,900 bid for the demolition of the Hickory Grove facility at 1127 N. 7th St. at its Monday meeting. 

City Engineer Sam Tesreau said McDonagh Demolition will take 60 days to complete the project and his guess is that it would start in late January. The demolition would end in April. It will consist of the complete removal of all above grade structures and below grade foundations where applicable, a portion of the existing pavement, outside pool area and final restoration and seeding of the disturbed area.

The city assumed ownership of the deteriorating building in early 2020 for $1 with the intention of demolishing it and developing the property. The building was previously owned by the Ogle County Civic Center Authority (OCCCA) board, which was under the Ogle County Board umbrella. The city decided to purchase the site so it could control it and likely would’ve had to deal with it later if it was abandoned. 

The city has worked on the demolition project for a year to develop an agreement with the Comfort Inn next door to establish cross access easements, property acquisition, plating, façade improvements on the south side of the hotel after disconnection of the Hickory Grove facility and other general project specifications. 

The bid approved by the council was approximately 35 percent lower than the estimated cost of $575,000. The project will be funded by a Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Rebuild Illinois grant reimbursement up to $365,750. 

“Any time you can get a grant to cover 100 percent, that's a good day,” Councilman Tom McDermott said. “That's a lot better than being in a hurry and costing the taxpayer $365,000.”

Mayor John Bearrows commended staff for their work and persistence on the “nightmare” of a project that has involved a lot of “moving parts” relative to easements and utilities in the building. 

City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said he’s looking forward to the future of the site after demolition. 

“This has been a long time coming, but it's going to be a huge opportunity to redevelop that site after that facility comes down,” Fiegenschuh said.

Budget approved

The council unanimously approved a budget for fiscal year 2022 at the meeting. 

The final proposed 2022 general fund revenues are budgeted at $12,117,647, an increase of approximately three percent compared to the original approved 2021 budget.  

Budgeted expenses total $13,072,825, approximately 20 percent higher than the 2021 budget and resulting in a budget deficit of $955,177.  

The combination of the general fund, special revenue funds, enterprise funds, internal service funds, trust and agency funds and capital project funds results in budgeted revenues of $87,323,018 and budgeted expenses of $89,785,184.

Downtown grant

The council unanimously approved a resolution in support of pursuing a Rebuild Downtowns and Main Streets Capital grant.  

The grants have a minimum amount of $250,000 and a maximum of $3 million with a deadline of Jan. 10, 2022. The objective of the grant program is to support economic recovery in commercial corridors and downtowns that have experienced disinvestment, particularly in communities hardest-hit by COVID-19. 

City Community Development Director Michelle Pease said if the city is a recipient of a grant, potential projects could include reconstruction of city parking lots near the downtown, additional new parking, removal of blight, a public restroom facility and improvements to electric and broadband infrastructure. 

Energy audits

The council unanimously approved an audit services agreement with Panoptic Solutions, LLC to provide energy efficiency auditing services to Rochelle Municipal Utilities customers. 

Audits will include a site visit, a data collection report and an interview findings report for the customers that wish to identify and improve energy inefficiencies. They will be available to residential and small commercial business customers. 

RMU will subsidize 50 percent of the audit cost to customers ($150 for a home, $400 for a small commercial business) until $15,000 worth of deliverables and expenses have exhausted and have been billed to RMU.

Project Jackpot

The council unanimously approved a $457,123 change order for electrical feed to Project Jackpot. The still-anonymous business has purchased the former Nippon Sharyo buildings at 1600 Ritchie Ct. and has been working with the city and RMU on electrical infrastructure near the site to meet its power needs.

The change order will include a 15kV temporary power feed installed to insure reliability of the distribution system. Any future service upgrades will be the responsibility of the property owner, the meeting’s agenda packet said.  

Hueramo sworn in

At the end of the meeting, RoseMary Hueramo was sworn in as city clerk. Current City Clerk/Assistant to the City Manager Sue Messer will be retiring at the end of the year. 

“Rose has done a great job as she's come into this position under the guidance of Sue and this is a little bittersweet,” Bearrows said. “I'm very happy Rose is doing a great job. But I'm also sad to see Sue retire. Congratulations and enjoy your retirement.”