Pioneer Press:

Union Ridge Elementary District 86 will install a new main parking lot with permeable pavers that will prevent rainwater from flooding into streets and the school’s basement, Superintendent Mike Maguire said.

The project will be financed through a Green Infrastructure Partnership Opportunity Program with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

The school was notified in October it was one of 20 entities chosen for the program and the only school selected. The MWRD program aims to partner with municipalities and public agencies to install green infrastructure — various engineered installations that mimic the natural water cycle.

“It’s really big news,” Maguire told the school board Nov. 15. “It’s a very big project and it’s going to help the residents as well because it’s flood control. More water will be absorbed into the ground instead of going into the sewer which will naturally help the community members.”

The permeable pavers at the school, 4600 N. Oak Park Ave., Harwood Heights, will absorb the water instead of it going into the sewer system, Maguire said.

According to the MWRD, main goals are to reduce stormwater flows to local sewer systems, prevent combined sewage overflows and address local flooding and drainage problems.

The program won’t fully cover the $500,000 to $600,000 cost of the lot, said Maguire, but is more of a cost sharing program. The MDRW will pay for 50% to 65% of the project. The rest of the funding will come from the school district, Maguire said.

“It’s a good thing for our community and a good thing for our school,” said Maguire. “And it’s definitely overdue.”

The project will have to be completed during the summer, because it will impact the school’s largest parking lot where most of the staff park, said Maguire.

The 12-week project may start this summer, Maguire said, but it’s more likely to happen next year.