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A grant from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District will help Forest Park construct a green alley in the Elgin-Marengo alley between Lexington and Harvard streets.

At the Aug. 27 Forest Park Village Council meeting, elected officials unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with the water reclamation district, which will pay up to $123,830 of the estimated $275,000 cost of creating the green alley. 

When the alley is replaced, the center 6 feet will consist of permeable pavers to help stop storm water runoff; the rest will be concrete. In addition, the alley will have perforated catch basins to maximize storm water infiltration into the ground. Together the green infrastructure installations will provide a total design retention capacity of 28,841 gallons of storm water per rain event.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian said the alley is on the list of alleys being considered for replacement through the village’s five-year infrastructure plan and “soil conditions are good for this type of alley.”

He said village officials applied for the grant in 2017, and they were informed by water reclamation district officials in July that they received the grant.

“It took some time to go through their process,” he explained. “But we’ve got it now.”

Gillian said the project will be undertaken in 2019 with the bidding process taking place in the winter months and the actual work done in late spring or early summer.

The green alley will be the third in the village, joining the 500 block alley between Thomas and Beloit avenues and the 100 block alley between Harlem and Elgin avenues. Gillian said both were done “a long time ago,” also with partial funding from the water reclamation district.

He indicated the cost of a green alley, $100,000 higher than the cost of a standard concrete alley, is preventing the village from doing more.

“We would do more if we could get financial assistance from somebody,” Gillian explained. “We just cannot justify the cost to do it by ourselves.”

Under the intergovernmental agreement, Forest Park officials will provide and maintain signage describing the project as a joint effort between the village and the water reclamation district “to promote the use of green infrastructure as an effective means of storm water management.”

The Forest Park project is among projects in parks, forest preserves, municipalities, a university and a nature center throughout Cook County to benefit from water reclamation district funding of green infrastructure enhancements to better manage storm water.