This morning, I'm at the monthly meeting of the City Colleges of Chicago trustees.
Today, the hot topic is a request for trustees to sign off on spending more than $100,000 to maintain the steel plates that are boarding up the old Kennedy-King campus that straddles Wentworth Avenue in Englewood.
That number – originally $207,000 for the next year -- perked up several board members at today's meeting, who wondered why the district was ready to write such a big check when demolition is set to begin by December.
The short answer: just in case, says Diane Minor, who is in charge of the district’s facilities.
“We have found that many times even though we have planned something, it may get past us,” Minor says.
The board said it wants to amend that board-up fee so it would only run through Dec. 31, cutting the amount to be spent roughly in half, to about $100,000. As of this writing, the board has not yet voted. I'll update when they do.
The money goes toward making sure the hulking, Imperial Star Destroyer-esque campus is sealed for the winter, and for repairing ongoing vandalism. The campus has been vacant for two years.
Minor says the district will start advertising for a demolition company this month, with a contract coming up for a vote at the board’s November meeting. The City Colleges has estimated that demolition will cost $10 million; it hopes to pay for that by creating a new tax increment financing district covering the surrounding neighborhood.
Some good news for nearby residents:
“We are looking forward during the planning stages of having community meetings with the residents and businesses that surround the old Kennedy-King facility,” Minor says.
Maybe there is a newfound “commitment to transparency” after all.