The wait for a permit that had stalled improvements planned at Reiger Park for months has ended, after the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago issued that final go-ahead park district officials needed to proceed.

The renovations at Reiger Park include washrooms, so sanitary and stormwater lines underneath the park will have to be tapped into, plans that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District needed to approve beforehand. The project was unable to continue until that permit was received by the Park District of Forest Park.

“This is awesome news,” said Park District Executive Director Jackie Iovinelli. “I’m like overwhelmed right now because I’m so excited that — again, something we’ve been waiting on for three months — is here.”

Before the permit was issued Sept. 28, Iovinelli said the delay was a “major holdup.” The renovations were expected to be completed in mid-to-late October.

“If I could go out there and dig the holes myself, I would,” Iovinelli said. “But I can’t. They won’t let me. MWRD won’t let me.”

In an email, Allison Fore, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s public and intergovernmental affairs officer, said the MWRD received a permit application for Reiger Park May 10. The MWRD administers the Watershed Management Ordinance as part of its authority for Cook County stormwater management, according to Fore.

“The purpose of the WMO is to establish uniform, minimum and comprehensive countywide stormwater management regulations throughout Cook County,” Fore said.

The timeline for the renovations at Reiger Park was originally based solely on the delivery of product, like a pavilion structure and playground equipment. For recent improvements at Popelka Park, equipment took about six months to arrive, hence the estimated timeline of the Reiger Park project, which was approved by the Park District of Forest Park Board of Commissioners in April. 

“We’re supposed to be close,” Iovinelli said. “We should have been about a month out from being finished, so we are significantly behind right now, and the weather in Chicago can creep up on us really quick. We can’t do anything in the park until we do everything underneath first, and that requires some decent weather to be able to work in.”

With the permit now issued, Iovinelli said the project’s contractor “may be able to come out of the gate hard.”

“Everything’s waiting,” Iovinelli said. “We’ve been waiting, and so we’re ready to go.