The Yorkville City Council has hired a contractor for a project that includes nearly $1 million of repairs to a pothole-ridden subdivision’s streets.
Aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday, March 27, to hire Geneva Construction of Aurora to complete $1,203,557 of improvement work in the Whispering Meadows subdivision, including $972,768.61 in improvements to streets that have been clustered with potholes since the first homes were built in 2005.
The alternate approved by the City Council removes a part of the project that included work along Faxon Road. That work could be addressed in a future city Road to Better Roads program year, according to a memo from city engineering consultant Brad Sanderson.
The City Council approved a legal settlement agreement with Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland, the bond holder on the subdivision, at its Feb. 27 meeting. In exchange for all outstanding infrastructure obligations by Fidelity, the company agreed to pay the city $800,000.
“These funds will be used to repair and repave the Whispering Meadows streets,” City Administrator Bart Olson wrote to aldermen regarding the settlement.
Aldermen will still need to approve the annual budget before the next fiscal year begins on May 1. The budget will include some changes to accommodate the Whispering Meadows project, according to city Finance Director Rob Fredrickson.
“To mitigate the impact of the additional costs associated with the project, budget adjustment [number] seven moves budgeted amounts for salt, street lighting and asphalt patching expenditures from the general fund to the motor fuel tax fund in [fiscal] 2019,” Fredrickson wrote in a memo to aldermen. “In turn, the general fund is budgeted to transfer $250,000 to the city-wide capital fund to offset most of the additional costs associated with the project. Furthermore, in [fiscal] 2022, $35,000 in budgeted asphalt paving costs have been moved to the streets department [general fund] to alleviate the negative fund equity in the city-wide capital fund; and budgeted amounts for [Road to Better Roads] have been adjusted in fiscal years 2021 through 2023 in order to zero out fund balance in the motor fuel tax fund.”
The City Council considered voting on the budget Tuesday but instead pushed the vote to the next meeting to give aldermen a chance to review some of the changes proposed by city staff.
Alderman Joel Frieders, who has lived in the subdivision with his family since 2006, has made the street repair issue a focus of his tenure as an elected official. However, he said the council still needs to approve the budget.
“Well, I’m not gonna count my chickens, but to see not only action by the city council, a unanimous vote in favor of just getting through the weeds ... but then the idea of perhaps even adopting the budget amendments almost immediately makes it more legitimate,” Frieders said.
Aldermen voted 7-1 at the February meeting to approve the settlement, with Alderman Chris Funkhouser casting the lone no vote.
After the meeting, Funkhouser said he wanted to get a better settlement.
Funkhouser said it was “more of a principle” vote and that it’s “more of a position against the surety that did not come to the table and actually fulfill their financial obligations.”
The city filed a pair of lawsuits – in 2011 and 2014 – seeking completion of Whispering Meadows’ infrastructure that was left unfinished by the original developer, Kimball Hill Homes, and subsequent property owners, according to Olson. Kimball Hill filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008, according to media reports.
The ongoing legal battle prevented the city from fixing streets that, technically, did not belong to it.
A group of subdivision residents attended a City Council meeting last July, where they voiced their concerns and complaints about the economic and safety issues related to the unfinished streets.
At the July meeting, Mayor Gary Golinski unsuccessfully pleaded with the frustrated residents to be patient, as there was little city officials could do until the legal battle was resolved.
“Believe me, we’re doing all we can,” Golinski told the crowd, which reacted with a smattering of groans, at the July meeting. “I know it’s frustrating for you and you don’t want to hear that we’re doing all we can, but we’re doing what we can. The wheels of justice just turn very very slow. We’re battling: We’re battling Fidelity ... who put up the bonds. Believe me, the city will never take another bond from Fidelity.”