By SAMANTHA PIDDE

How best to approach moving forward with the William J. Davis Community Center project was a matter of discussion and contention at the Tuesday, March 9, Mount Carroll city Council meeting at the Community House.

One topic of discussion was to consider proposals from several firms regarding the planning facilitation for the community center. Mayor Carl Bates said that while the city had received proposals from MSA Professional, Burbach Aquatics and Russell Construction, he was aware of at least one more proposal that he had not yet received.

The city is set to receive approximately $12 million from the Davis Trust, with most of that money to be used for the construction of a community center in Davis' name. The city’s plans for the center must be approved by the trust's trustees, according to the document.

Last fall the city approved having Burbach Aquatics conduct a community survey to gather residents’ opinions on where the community center should be located and what type of facilities and activities should be offered. The council heard the preliminary report on the survey results a month ago and discussed the final report last week.

Ald. Mike Risko continued to have issues with the survey results, saying some of the figures were incorrect and that credibility is important.

Mayor Bates said he felt there was some value in the survey, adding that the council received good ideas and had a good deal of people expressing interest in being involved. Ald. Joe Grim was skeptical that many, if any, of those offering to participate would stick with it.

Steve Haring from MSA answered questions about his firm's proposal. Risko said that despite the fact that MSA had done a lot of excellent design engineering work for the city, he had not seen any indication that they have done much planning.

Haring assured the council that MSA can and does provide more than just engineering work. He said the firm has architects, structural engineers, planners, aerial drone pilots, funding specialists and more.

Risko said that while he thinks MSA has done great work for the city, he did not see anything in their proposal showing they have helped plan a community recreation center before. Haring said MSA’s proposal was not geared toward a design as much as for "facilitating what needs to be done."

Risko reminded the council that a representative from a planning firm had presented a proposal late last year, but the council did not want to pay the $28,000, instead going with the Burbach Aquatics survey. Risko said that if they had gone with that firm, the planning stage would have been done by this past January.

"We can talk about the past, but we need to move forward," Bates said. "We've got to get moving on this."

Risko said the council needs to learn from its mistakes, suggesting they need to compare the different firms equally and he felt they could not do that at this time.

Bates agreed that the council needs to "do it right." He suggested he work with some of the aldermen on a letter to send the firms to see if they can get more information for the next meeting. He added that once all of the proposals have been received, the council can better compare them.