In a sign that spring is just around the corner, the Forest Park Village Council, Feb. 11, authorized advertising for bids for two infrastructure projects.

One project will replace the alley in the 900 block between Marengo and Elgin avenues with a “green” alley. The other will entail replacing the water mains under the 400 and 500 blocks of Beloit Avenue and the 1500 block of Marengo Avenue and resurfacing those streets and the 600 block of Beloit and the 1400 block of Marengo.

A grant from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) will cover $123,830 of the estimated total cost of $280,000 for the green alley, with the remainder coming from the Village Improvement Program (VIP) fund. The VIP fund is a debt service fund committed to public infrastructure improvements. 

The estimated cost of the water main/street resurfacing project is $1,214,000, paid for with $656,000 from the VIP Fund and $558,000 from the water fund. 

Bids for both projects are due Feb. 27 with contracts expected to be awarded in March.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian said he is hopeful that both projects will start in the spring with the alley project expected to take 4-6 weeks and the water main/street resurfacing project two to three months.

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.

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 Avenue. 

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

Under an intergovernmental agreement between the village and the MWRD, 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.”

Mayor Anthony Calderone noted that Forest Park was the first municipality in Cook County to install a green alley in 2011 and the first to have all LED street lights, which was accomplished in 2012 and 2013.

“We’ve been practicing green technology for quite some time,” he said. “Wherever we can, we are trying to be environmentally friendly.”

Commissioner Tom Mannix noted that installing all LED street lights not only helped the environment but the village budget as well.

“It’s also saved taxpayers hundreds or thousands of dollars because of the reduced maintenance costs and electricity costs,” he said. “Not only was it good for a green and healthy environment but also good for greening the wallet.”

The green alley and water main/street resurfacing projects are part of an $8.5 million infrastructure plan for 2019 unveiled in December. Almost all of the funding for the plan, which includes two major projects, would come from tax increment financing (TIF) funds and grant money. 

Heading the list are a $3.5 million multifaceted project in the Brown Street TIF District on the north end of the village and a $2.7 million sewer separation project at the south end. Of the $8,560,072 estimated total project costs, $5,159,795 will come from TIF funds; $2,030,107 from grant funds; $812,170 from the VIP fund; and $558,000 from the water fund.