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Ottawa commissioners ask: Who will pay?

Question mark hovers over Jackson Street streetscape services

Two Ottawa commissioners questioned a proposed contract to involve a downtown Chicago landscape architecture firm in the renovation of Jackson Street between Columbus and La Salle streets.

After a brief discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, whether the developer or the city would pay for up to $18,200 for services by Wolff Landscape Architecture remained unresolved. The contract will be up for a vote at the council’s next meeting.

Last year, C.L. Enterprises proposed the one-way block of Jackson Street for conversion, in part, to a pedestrian mall and marketplace as part of the retail renovation of the old Woolworth and Carson buildings to the immediate south.

Wolff’s advertised services include planning, streetscape and urban design, landscape architecture and historic landscape preservation.

The award-winning firm has done downtown Chicago landscape renovations on State Street and Michigan Avenue as well roof gardens and the Ravinia Festival outdoor music venue in Highland Park.

Commissioner Dan Aussem questioned who would pay for the services.

“I thought when this was proposed the developer was going to cover the cost,” he said.

That only had been talked about “as far as the construction goes,” replied Mayor Bob Eschbach.

“I think the idea is that we would have somebody on our side to review concepts that are proposed by the developer and also to review concepts that our consultant might come up with,” Eschbach said. “We did put this on hold for a while because the developer has hired some folks to come up with some ideas that they’re about ready to share with us.”

Commissioner James Less said in his reading of the proposal, it appeared Wolff would be the sole provider of designs.

“There’s no reference in the proposal regarding them reviewing other alternatives or other concepts,” Less said.

“That will be part of it,” Eschbach replied.

“Obviously, we’ve got to take a look at where all the possibilities are, all the ideas are,” he said. “But they’ll be making the final drawing for us to go out to bid. Whether it is reimbursed by the developer or not it will be a city project.”

After the meeting, Aussem told The Times he was concerned about the cost, predicting it could exceed the $18,200 limit.

“Even that seems to be quite a bit if you’re just reviewing what somebody else did,” he said.

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