Winnetka Council receives first look at NT renovation plan

With the proposed renovation of New Trier High School’s Winnetka campus in the hands of voters on Nov. 4, the Winnetka Village Council appeared favorable to the design of the project.

New Trier officials requested an opportunity to present the project to the Village Council, and did so Aug. 19.

“We’re now getting ready for conceptual design,” Superintendent Linda Yonke said. “There’s a great deal of effort architecturally to have it fit in the neighborhood with the existing buildings.”

Under the proposal, New Trier would demolish the 1912 cafeteria, the 1931 tech arts building and the 1950 music building, replacing the three with one new building.

Yonke said New Trier officials have already held meetings with the village, the Winnetka Police Department, the Winnetka Fire Department and various utility companies to keep all parties up to date on the project.

Earlier this month, the New Trier High School Board of Education approved placing an $89 million referendum question on the November ballot, seeking voter approval to proceed with the project.

The total construction cost, including contingencies, is estimated at $100,300,000. New Trier has already committed money from its reserves to pay for the project costs beyond the $89 million in bonds.

If the referendum passes, a homeowner living in New Trier Township would pay an additional $16.67 per year per $1,000 paid in property taxes. A homeowner with a $15,000 property tax bill would pay an additional $250 per year.

Resident Bernard Hammer asked what the school would do for students while the buildings are demolished and rebuilt, something the school is prepared for with a phased construction approach.

“We will have some temporary structures for those classes,” Yonke said. “The good thing is we never have to try to do something with the cafeteria. We’ll build and move into the new cafeteria before we demolish the old one. The new library, cafeteria and 10-12 classrooms [will be built first].”

The plan also calls for some stormwater detention to be included on-site, something on which the school and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago will work together to achieve.

“We had a terrible problem on-site with stormwater,” Yonke said. “It’s not going to solve every problem in the neighborhood around us, but it certainly will help us and, we hope, our neighbors along the north.”

Trustees appeared supportive of the information and designs presented to them.

“Speaking for myself as a former member of the Plan Commission, I just want to say I’m very favorably impressed with the plan and especially the design,” said Trustee Bill Krucks.

If the funding is approved by the voters, the renovation would require a special use permit from the village to proceed.

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