Oak Lawn Village board members were being extra careful when it was learned that the demolition contractor hired to take down the former Harley-Davidson building at 111th Street and Cicero Avenue had a relative employed by the village.
Mayor Dave Heilmann informed Oak Lawn trustees of the complaint he had received of Environmental Cleansing Corp. after the village board voted to waive the competitive bidding process for the Harley-Davidson demolition contract at the Jan. 8 board meeting.
The Markham-based demolition firm recently completed demolition on the old Kmart building at the same site to prepare the land for redevelopment.
“They did a great job,” Heilmann said at Tuesday’s village board meeting. “Because I received complaints that the contractor had a relative working in village hall, I put that back on the agenda. Nothing untoward happened.”
The village is currently under a federal criminal investigation for possible bid tampering after a bid was awarded to a roofing firm that employed Trustee Bob Streit’s brother even though the company had not submitted the lowest bid.
The contract awarded to Adler Roofing Company to replace the roof on a village public works building was withdrawn at the last regular board meeting of 2012. The village was subpoenaed a few days later on Dec. 13 to release all records related to the competitive bidding process, amid allegations that bid specifications were tampered with.
Heilmann said he wasn’t advocating either way if the village should withdraw the contract awarded to Environmental Cleansing Corporation.
“I want this before our board so that everyone knows about the complaint and that we evaluated it,” the mayor said.
Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said that the village did a thorough investigation after the allegation came to light.
“This isn’t about the firm, they’ve done excellent work,” Deetjen said. “The question was the rationale used by the board to waive competitive bidding and make this work available to (Environmental Cleansing Corp.) who was mobilized and already on the site.”
Deetjen said that the demolition company was one of eight that bid on the Kmart demolition. Environmental Cleansing Corp. submitted the lowest bid at $489,000. The next highest qualifying bid was submitted for $712,000, and the highest bid was $1.99 million.
“I explained to those board members who called me that there was a mandatory pre-bidding conference where we met with the bidders [for the Kmart demolition],” Deetjen said. “It was highly competitive and we had an incredibly competitive bid.”
The village manager acknowledged that Environmental Cleansing Corp. has ties to Oak Lawn and that the company likes to bid low so that it can do work in the community.
“This is what they do,” Deetjen said. “”They can localize nearby and get there quicker and faster. The bid reflects that.”
During the pre-bid meeting on the Kmart demolition, Deetjen said he told the bidding companies to keep in consideration that other demolition work would become available at the site if they did a good job.
“We asked [Environmental Cleansing Corp.] to give us a price that reflected those bids for Harley-Davidson,” Deetjen said. “We had the village engineer compute the costs and determined it was roughly the same cost per square foot. It was pretty good.”
Deetjen said that fencing has already been placed around the Harley-Davidson building and an asbestos removal plan submitted to Cook County.
“I don’t think we should rescind,” Trustee Carol Quinlan (Dist. 5) said.
There was no motion by the village board to withdraw the contract. Deetjen said to expect seeing demolition begin on the Harley-Davidson building at the end of the month.
Moving on the other village board news, trustees approved a special-use ordinance to allow a “massage establishment” to move into the Oak Lawn Promenade retail center at 95th Street and Ridgeland Avenue.
The Planning and Development Commission had unanimously recommended the petition submitted by Chang Suo Xue for approval by the village board.
The “massage establishment” has an open floor plan and plans to offer mostly foot massages and footbaths. Clients would remain fully clothed and there are no closed rooms or shower areas. Employees are state-licensed massage therapists.
Read more GOVERNMENT NEWS:
- Village Board Ponders Impact of Video Gaming on Oak Lawn
- Oak Lawn Promenade Gets New Owner