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Local News

Forest preserve commission receives costs estimates for Pickerill house renovations

YORKVILLE – Discussions surrounding the vacant Ken Pickerill house in the Pickerill-Pigott Forest Preserve south of Oswego continued during a Kendall County Forest Preserve Commission committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, July 9.

Representatives from Batavia-based Kluber Inc., gave a presentation to Kendall County Forest Preserve commissioners during the meeting at the Kendall County Office Building, 111 W. Fox St. The presentation included design improvement suggestions for the Pickerill house and construction cost estimates.

Kluber completed its study at a cost to the forest preserve district of $8,875, according to Dave Guritz, district executive director.

Chris Hansen, vice president of Kluber, said it would cost about $367,000 to make only the first floor publicly accessible and be up to code. He said it could cost up to about $640,000 for both floors to be accessible to the public, which would include the cost of fitting an elevator into the space to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

Hansen said it would cost about $1.5 million to build something like this from the ground up. Ultimately, he said, he thinks the building could be suitable for public use after other matters are addressed, like sealing asbestos in the kitchen and addressing more dated aesthetic elements of the house, and it could be a good investment for the forest preserve district.

“It’s a solid building,” Hansen said. “It’s actually built extremely well.”

The Pickerill family donated the house they built themselves to the forest preserve district in 2017, along with a portion of what is now the about 100-acre forest preserve. The preserve is not yet open to the public.

Guritz had said the proposed plan would open the lower level of the two-story building to the public while he would keep a temporary leased residence in the upper level.

Hansen said after the presentation that he didn’t have exact numbers available about how much it would cost to renovate the second floor for residential use, since he was specifically asked to only seriously look at possibilities for public use on the first floor.

“But I see no reason why that potential use could not be done there,” Hansen said.

No commission action related to the potential Pickerill house renovations followed the presentation.

Judy Gilmour, president of the forest preserve district, said the commission has run the whole gamut concerning possibilities for the donated house, including tearing down the building or potential new uses, including area colleges hosting classes. She and Guritz said forest preserve officials continue to explore grant opportunities that could help with possible project costs for the house renovations.

Gilmour said she’s not anticipating the renovation project making it into the next budget. She said there are more urgent budget matters to address before the Pickerill house project.

“We may not get to this for a while,” Gilmour said.

Scott Gryder, Kendall County Board chairman and forest preserve commissioner, said after the presentation that he appreciates the vision that Kluber representatives suggested has for the space.

“It incorporated what I hear us saying as well,” Gryder said to Hansen during the presentation. “That doesn’t always happen, and thank you for listening to us.”

The update comes after Kendall County Forest Preserve commissioners voted, 8-2, during their Tuesday, July 2, meeting to pass along a new job description draft for Guritz. The new job description would include a 14.12% pay raise increasing his current $85,000 annual salary to $97,000, with the raise covering potential rent costs for Guritz to live at the Pickerill house.

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