City breaks ground on new street department facility

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[April 29, 2016]  LINCOLN - On Thursday evening, the city of Lincoln celebrated the beginning stages of a new street department facility with a groundbreaking ceremony. On hand for the event was Mayor Marty Neitzel, Aldermen Michelle Bauer, Rick Hoefle, Jeff Hoinacki, Kathy Horn, Todd Mourning, Jonie Tibbs and Tracy Welch.

Other city officials present included City Clerk Susan Gehlbach, Treasurer Chuck Conzo, Building and Safety Officer John Lebegue, Assistant Building and Safety Officer Corey Ingram, Street Superintendent Walt Landers and Chief of Police Paul Adams. There were also representatives from Farnsworth Group, the architects for the project, a representative from Shea Construction, the firm that will build the facility, and two staff members from the Lincoln Street Department.

As the city officials donned their hard hats and grabbed shovels, Mayor Nietzel offered a short commentary on the project about to begin. She noted that this had been seven years in coming to fruition. The department is being moved from its current facility on Third Street due to soil contamination and a forced remediation by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This did come to the attention of the city several years ago when they were notified that the old, city-owned Light and Gas company had contaminated the soil with Benzine. The result was the EPA was going to order remediation of that soil. The EPA advised the city that in doing a search of the chain of ownership, the responsibility for the remediation would fall on Common Wealth Edison and Nicor Gas.

Over the years, soil testing was done and the plan for remediation was formed. The city was advised that the current structures on Third Street would have to be vacated and demolished. Common Wealth Edison and Nicor gas would be financially responsible for relocating the city street department.

Neitzel noted Thursday evening that the fact that the price tag for this project would not come out of city funds made it all the better. The city will gain a new facility with adequate space for people and equipment without having a major impact on its own budget.

At the end of Neitzel's comments, the first group turned a shovel of soil. As some stepped away, others stepped in for additional photo ops. John Bishop of Farnsworth Group was asked to say a few words. He commented that it was good to get the project started after all this time, and he is confident that the new facility will meet the needs of the city for the future.

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Also in the line-up was Landers and the two crew members. One spoke saying that the street department was excited to see the project get underway, and the crews are looking forward to having the new more spacious facility.

Landers also added a few words commenting that Farnsworth had been good to work with during the planning process. He noted that on several occasions, his staff had been included in the conversations about what the facility needed to be. He added that some of those conversations equaled some very good suggestions that were incorporated into the overall design.

As the representative for Shea Construction joined the line-up, Neitzel extended her hand in a welcoming handshake, saying it was good to get started, and that Shea Construction has projected that the building should be move-in ready by early 2017.

The new facility will be located between Limit and Pekin Streets, behind the Precision Parking Lot and Illinois American Water on the city’s east side.

[Nila Smith]

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