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DeKalb City Council OKs $400K for sidewalk work in Knolls subdivision

DeKALB – Sidewalk construction work within the Knolls subdivision in DeKalb is slated for the summer, which city officials said will help the walkways be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The DeKalb City Council voted, 7-0, this week to approve waiving competitive bids and awarding a contract to Kaskaskia Engineering Group, LLC for $400,000 for the construction. The planned work will cover sidewalk ramp construction within the Knolls subdivision. Third Ward Alderman Tracy Smith was absent from the meeting.

According to city documents, the city dedicated capital funds toward sidewalk repairs and re-paving in the Knolls subdivision this summer. However, concrete repairs need to happen at almost all street corners to bring handicap ramps up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards before the re-surfacing can happen.

DeKalb City Engineer Zac Gill said if the city waived its bidding process for the sidewalk construction and awarded the $400,000 to the Geneva firm, it would help the city meet state grant requirements and expedite the sidewalk work.

“This is a unique situation with an elegant solution,” Gill wrote in a March 23 memo about the proposal. “Engineering’s position is that the public bid process should be pursued at all times, except when it threatens the best interests of the city. This is perceived as one of those times.”

A representative from Kaskaskia Engineering Group told the council this week the work would apply to 65 sidewalk ramps within the Knolls subdivision.

DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas said funding for the project came from a $1.4 million grant awarded to the city in 2020 from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. He said the first $1 million of the grant was used in the construction of the new Afton Road on the east side of the Meta, or Facebook, data center campus.

“One of the conditions of that grant was that there would be involvement on the part of disadvantaged business enterprise firms – DBE firms – in either design or construction,” Nicklas said. “We did not have a response when we were looking for such firms as we went out to bid about a year ago for Afton Road, but it’s imperative that we do work with a DBE qualified firm at this point to do some of the work that is involved in the remainder of that grant.”

Nicklas said the work that was planned for the Knolls for the year exceeds the $400,000 amount that’s going to be dedicated toward the concrete ramp replacements and the compliance work.

“But we thought it was critical that we go ahead and waive competitive bids in this case and award the grant to [the firm] in ... a lump sum amount of $400,000,” Nicklas said.

There was no additional discussion among aldermen regarding the proposal before the vote Monday.