Forest Park’s village council voted unanimously June 27 to approve the purchase of a new diesel-powered street sweeper after the village couldn’t find a hybrid or electric street sweeper that fell within its budget.

The existing 2009 Elgin Pelican street sweeper was already past its useful life, and Sal Stella, public works director, previously told the council that he didn’t expect it to make it past 2022. The council was originally scheduled to vote on June 13 to authorize the purchase of a new 2022 Elgin Pelican street sweeper, but Commissioner Jessica Voogd requested a two-week delay to give Stella more time to investigate whether the village could buy something more environmentally friendly.

After the director couldn’t find the alternative that would fit within the village budget, the council went ahead and approved the 2022 diesel-powered street sweeper. Voogd said that she was still glad that the village took the time to do a search, since it gave Forest Park a better idea of what’s out there. 

Elgin Pelican street sweepers are built by Standard Equipment Company of Elmhurst. According to the memo to the board, the current street sweeper has a useful life of 8-10 years. The most recent, February 2022 inspection found $24,000 in repairs it would need to safely operate. While waiting for repairs, its conveyer seized up, requiring, $718 in emergency repairs. 

When it was taken offline for repairs in early June, Standard Equipment discovered that the frame was severely rusted and would cost another $25,000 to replace. Welding the frame together would fix the problem, but it would only last until the end of this year. The village agreed to this fix to get the street sweeper back in service as soon as possible. 

Voogd has been continuously urging the village to adopt more environmentally friendly practices, including equipment purchases. During the June 13 meeting, she asked the village to give Stella a few more weeks to research for electric street sweepers. 

“They’re generally quite expensive and we’re waiting to get information from a couple of companies in the region about cost, and we need to do research about grant opportunities,” she said. “I do believe it’s worth taking a couple of weeks to give this its due diligence and look at the possibility of this alternative option that’s going to [keep] a lot of harmful CO2 emissions from entering the airways.”

At the time, Stella said that he only needed another week. 

During the June 27 meeting, Voogd said that, while options were there, the village ultimately couldn’t make the math work.

“For the most part, there isn’t anything locally available for the short term that would fit into our budget and there aren’t, of course, alternative funding options,” she said. “But it was still worth looking into and it gave Director Stella a better idea of what is available.”

Voogd added that she hopes that the newly formed Cross-Community Climate Collaborative, an agreement between nine west suburban villages, including Forest Park, will enable the village to get funding for these kinds of projects in the future.

The new street sweeper will cost Forest Park $259,800, with the village getting $20,000 off for agreeing to trade in the previous street sweeper. The new street sweeper is expected to be built by November 2022.