Greening of Forest Park, one project at a time

Step by step, first an alley, now a parking lot

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By Robert J. Lifka

Contributing Reporter

Following the successful completion of one green infrastructure project, a green alley, Forest Park officials are continuing to be environmentally-conscious by planning a second project, a green parking lot.

And they are hoping the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) officials will help fund the project with a second green infrastructure grant.

At the July 8 village council meeting, officials voted 5-0 to apply for an MWRD $288,000 grant to reconstruct the employee parking lot at 510 Desplaines Ave., across from Forest Park Village Hall, with permeable pavers. 

The overall cost of the project is $345,600 with the village covering the remaining $57,600.

"This is part of the village's overall efforts toward drainage and flood remediation," Mayor Rory Hoskins explained. "If we see an opportunity, we will seize that opportunity."

The village used a $123,830 MWRD grant to help pay for the recently completed green alley project in the Elgin-Marengo alley between Lexington and Harvard streets.

Coincidentally, the village council at the July 8 meeting voted 5-0 to approve a second payout to J. Nardulli Concrete Inc. for the green alley work. An initial payout of $168,000 was approved previously. Total cost of the project is $311,456.36, higher than the initial cost estimate of $275,000. 

The current parking lot consists of hot-mix asphalt concrete, which village officials said in the application is in "deteriorating condition." In addition to the poor condition of the pavement, the lot is experiencing drainage issues from poor grading and insufficient drainage structures, they added.

Forest Park has active combined sewer overflow problems and implemented a long-term plan to minimize the environmental and health hazards they pose, village officials said. Heavy rainfalls cause excessive stormwater flows that overload the combined sewer system and result in the overflow discharging into the Des Plaines River, they added.

Village officials estimate the project will divert 77,093 gallons of storm water per rain event from the 11,420-square-foot lot.

The grant application deadline is Aug. 9, with announcement of awards expected by Dec. 31. If successful, construction would begin next May and end in July.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian said if the village does not receive the grant, the project will be delayed.

However, Hoskins expressed optimism, saying, "We'll get it."  

The green alley is 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 MWRD.

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

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.

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