Forest Park Review: 

Alleys will be repaved with concrete if village fails to obtain funds

Forest Park’s Village Council voted unanimously Aug. 22 to seek Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) funding to cover half of the costs of redoing the north-south alleys in the two-block area bound by Harrison Street, Marengo Avenue, Harvard Street and Circle Avenue.

The funding would allow the village to add a permeable median to the alleys. When it rains, the water would seep into the ground instead of going into the sewers, reducing flooding. But if the funding is obtained, the village would use its own funds to repave two different alleys further south using traditional methods.

Since 2017, MWRD has been inviting municipalities and other government agencies to submit green infrastructure improvements that reduce flooding in an environmentally friendly manner. Under the Green Infrastructure Partnership Opportunity program, the district covers half the costs, and governing bodies promise to maintain the improvements for the duration of the improvements’ useful life – which, according to the program website, averages 20 to 30 years. The deadline for the current round of applications is Sept. 5.

Forest Park estimates the project would cost $845,730. The MWRD half would cover most of the construction costs, while the village would cover the remaining construction costs and the engineering costs. The village estimates that repaving the same alleys with concrete would cost $646,800. 

If the project doesn’t get into the opportunity program, Forest Park plans to instead use $488,040 to repave the north-south alley between Filmore Avenue, Marengo Avenue, Roosevelt Road and Circle Avenue, and the north-south alley between Polk Street, Lathrop Avenue, Harvard Street and Dunlop Avenue using traditional methods. The village estimates that it would cost $694,740 to repave those alleys using green infrastructure. 

According to the memo to the council, the village wanted to prioritize green alley improvements on the alleys closer to Harrison Street because that street is “downstream/bottom end of stormwater flow that comes from the south.” If Forest Park doesn’t get the funds this year, it hopes to do the green alley improvements later, while still addressing the alley maintenance backlog in the meantime.

In June 13, Forest Park became one of the founding members of the Cross-Community Climate Collaborative (C4), a collaboration between western suburbs that seeks to pool together their resources to implement environmentally friendly projects. While the collaborative focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and putting in place electric charging stations, flood reduction via measures such as permeable pavers and rain gardens falls under its sustainability umbrella. 

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