On Monday, the Forest Park Village Council moved forward on two infrastructure projects, both funded in part by $755,000 in grants from the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Commissioner Chris Harris attempted to amend one motion to include permeable options for the repaving of a village-owned parking lot, but he could not get a second and his motion never made the floor.

The council voted to approve two agreements with Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. The first will start work on rehabbing the village-owned CTA parking lot south of the Blue Line station at 711 Desplaines Ave. The second contract was for construction management to replace a generator at the Hannah Avenue Pumping Station. Both projects will take place in summer 2015.

The triangle-shaped CTA lot north of Van Buren Street covers about a city block and holds around 400 cars. The village received $550,000 from the DCEO toward repaving the lot. Burke Engineering will perform a topographic survey and take concrete core samples, and assist the village in preparing bid documents. The company will then oversee the construction project. The village will pay $70,000 to CBBEL for engineering.

The village received $250,000 from the state toward replacing a backup power generator in the 1200 block of Hannah Avenue. CBBEL will prepare the bids and then oversee the building and installation of a generator and transfer switch on a poured concrete pad. The village will pay $35,000 to CBBEL for this service.

After the meeting, Harris said the village missed an opportunity to create some permeable parking lot space. 

“When Walmart expanded their parking lot, they had to build in flood remediation, why doesn’t the village have to?” Harris acknowledged that making the entire lot permeable would cost more, but with a grant, he said, the village could afford to make permeable strips or sections of the lot. 

In the flooding of April 2013, heavy rains caused torrents of water from the parking lot to rush down Van Buren into Desplaines Avenue, causing a knee-deep pool of water under the viaduct that made Desplaines impassible for a day. Officers were stationed at the site to keep cars from passing. 

The village received a $500,000 grant from the Illinois EPA Clean Water Initiative in October, 2014 to pave two alleys with permeable pavers and disconnect downspouts from the sewer system. 

“[The village] only uses grant money for green initiatives when the grant is specifically for green,” Harris complained. “They never want to do it on their own.”

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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