Village unveils 2019 infrastructure plan

No general fund dollars will be spent on improvements

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By Robert J. Lifka

Contributing Reporter

Stressing that no general fund dollars will be spent, Forest Park Village Administrator Tim Gillian and Village Engineer Jim Amelio unveiled an $8.5 million infrastructure plan for 2019 at the Dec. 17 Village Council meeting.

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 multi-faceted 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 Village Improvement Program (VIP) fund; and $558,000 from the water fund. The VIP fund is a debt service fund committed to public infrastructure improvements. 

Amelio, of Christopher Burke Engineering, said the Brown Street TIF project includes televising and cleaning the sewers and developing and implementing a sewer repair/lining program from information gleaned from the televising. In addition, the project includes replacing a six-inch water main on Circle Avenue from Harlem Avenue to Franklin Street with an eight-inch water main; a sewer separation project that would redirect storm water from the existing combined sewer; sidewalk repairs and pavement patching; and security measures around the north water tower at 7421 Franklin. A gateway sign on Harlem at a location to be determined also is being considered.

"We're still in the very early stages" of planning, Amelio said, adding resurfacing "the entire area" is being considered. The entire cost of the project will be covered by money from the TIF fund, which has $4.6 million available. 

The Brown Street TIF District was created in 2000 and will expire in 2023. The district includes primarily the area between Central Avenue, the village's northern border, and Franklin and between Harlem and Lathrop Avenue.

The south area sewer separation project is contingent on a $1.1 million grant from the Phase II Stormwater Management program of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD).

Gillian explained that the village has received notification that the grant has been awarded but have yet to finalize the intergovernmental agreement with the MWRD.

"We fully expect that will be coming on down the line," he said. 

Amelio termed the grant application process as "very competitive" and noted that Forest Park is one of 14 recipients from 64 municipal township and county agencies that applied. A total of $66.8 million was awarded to address flooding issues.

The project types under Phase II include the installation of green and gray infrastructure, localized detention, upsizing critical storm sewers and culverts, pump stations and establishing drainage ways. An MWRD spokesman said preference was given to "shovel ready" projects or projects which have a completed or nearly completed design.

The remainder of the south area sewer separation project costs will be covered from the Roosevelt/Hannah TIF fund.

The project, which Gillian said would help mitigate some of the flooding problems, would entail separating the combined sewer on Circle from Roosevelt Road to 16th Street and eventually redirect the storm water into the Des Plaines River after connecting with an existing storm water sewer at 15th Street and Hannah Avenue.

Amelio explained that the project would benefit not only properties on Circle but also other properties in that area because there will be less of a burden on the combination sewer.

The village also is planning to revive two projects that have been on hold for four years, resurfacing the CTA Blue Line parking lot and installing a backup generator at the pump station on Hannah, according to Amelio and Gillian. 

Amelio explained that the village had received notification that grant funding would be provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity but funding was frozen in 2014 due to the state's budget impasse before either project could be undertaken.

He added that he is optimistic that funding will be reinstated in the spring, allowing the village to undertake the projects. Estimated costs are $550,000 for the parking lot project and $250,000 for the backup generator. If funding is not reinstated, both projects will remain on hold, according to Amelio.

Another grant from the MWRD will help with construction of a "green" alley in the Elgin-Marengo alley between Lexington and Harvard streets. The grant will cover $123,830 of the estimated total cost of $280,000 with the remainder coming from the VIP Fund. 

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. 

Rounding out the 2019 infrastructure plan will be $1,214,000 in street repairs, paid for with $656,000 from the VIP Fund and $558,000 from the water fund. 

Water mains will be replaced in the 400 and 500 blocks of Beloit and in the 1500 block of Marengo. In addition, the 600 block of Beloit and the 1400 block of Marengo will be resurfaced.

The alley, street and water main projects are slightly different from those listed in the five-year infrastructure plan presented by Amelio and Gillian a year ago. 

"We shuffled things around based on grant funding and current needs," Amelio explained. "We envision all projects staying within the five-year plan."

Gillian said officials are "trying hard" to begin construction in the spring.

"That's why we're starting now," he added.   

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