Park Ridge Library Parking Lot
A plan to improve the parking lot next to the Park Ridge Library would use permeable paver bricks in place of the current asphalt surface. (Journal photo)


Journal & Topics: There are a lot of construction related projects in the pipelines which are still hanging fire around the Park Ridge Library property, which could impact users of the library and the commuter “library lot” which is owned by the city and is immediately south of the library and north of Summit between South Prospect and Touhy.

One of the deadlines which has no leeway in time is the repaving of what is generally referred to as the “Green Library Lot.” The city got a matching grant from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to convert the asphalt surface with a permeable surface, rain gardens and underground water retention. Retaining water underground during heavy rains can restrict how much water hits the major storm sewers, the local rivers and the MWRD’s Tunnel and Reservoir system (“Deep Tunnel”) or back up into local neighborhoods.

Public Works determined a year ago that it would be fiscally good for the city, comparing the long range costs of frequent asphalt repaving. There will be a few less parking spaces and a few more trees to assist with the absorption of water into the ground.

City Engineer Sarah Mitchell explained Sept. 13 that MWRD really wants the Park Ridge project to be done before the end of 2021. Based on city commitments to obtain the matching grant, Public Works introduced a contract for $1,263,511 with Copenhaver Construction, which passed as part of the consent agenda Sept. 20. A budget amendment is needed to get the project underway this calendar year.

MWRD awarded a grant for the project in 2018 for $650,000 or 50 percent of the total project, whichever is less. The city entered an intergovernmental agreement with MWRD in 2019.

While the city has been preparing for the project, despite delays during the 2020-21 COVID pandemic, the construction on the library grounds next door, were also a factor. In the second phase of the library renovations, the installation of a sprinkler system and additional water line access for the required ADA accessible restrooms, meant digging across the same parking lot this summer. Access to Summit water lines did not prove workable, so a new access line across the back library lawn was dug toward Touhy Avenue earlier this year.

Renovations from both the first and second library projects are winding down, but there are still issues which have to be resolved inside and with the rooftop ice melting system.

New library director Joanna Bertucci and board president Lauren Rapisand planned to meet with city staff before their Sept. 21 board meeting (7 p.m., live only in City Council Chambers).

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