City officials are in the process of considering a grant from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago that would pay 50 percent of construction costs to convert an old parking garage to a green facility.
(TNS) — A grant that would help pay for the reconstruction of a public parking lot using so-called “green infrastructure” is available to the city of Park Ridge, Ill., if officials want to accept it, the city council was told last week.
But aldermen must decide if the city should also invest in the project in order for it to move forward.
According to a staff memo shared with the city council on Jan. 14, the city has been awarded a grant from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago that will pay 50 percent of construction costs — up to $650,000 — for a green infrastructure project, estimated at $1.3 million, in the city’s Central Parking Lot, located next to the Park Ridge Public Library.
Park Ridge Public Works Director Wayne Zingsheim said the project would include the installation of permeable pavement (such as permeable brick pavers set in sand), new drainage and “other green technologies.”
According to a call for grant applications from the MWRD, green infrastructure is designed to “capture” rainwater so it can infiltrate the ground before entering the sewer system.
“This helps to reduce the amount of water flowing through pipes that are often overwhelmed by increasingly intense rain events experienced throughout the region,” the MWRD said.
Zingsheim told the council that water runoff will still end up in the city’s sewer system, but the pavers will “delay” it.
“[The water] would hold back for awhile and slowly drain into our system,” he said.
But Zingsheim cautioned that the heavy clay in the soil at this location may hamper how much water is actually absorbed into the ground.
“I don’t know if this is going to do that much for the city,” he said.
City Manager Joe Gilmore agreed that it is “hard to quantify what the benefits are.” He acknowledged that the city does not have this type of expertise on staff.
Seventh Ward Ald. Marty Joyce suggested the city consult with the MWRD to find out what the benefits of the parking lot could be. Sixth Ward Ald. Marc Mazzuca agreed.
“If we need help, ask for it,” he said.
Moran said the city can try to get more detailed information about the project and bring it back for discussion at a later date.
The MWRD’s 50 percent reimbursement would apply to the project itself, not the design or construction engineering, Zingsheim said. These costs are estimated at between $200,000 and $300,000, according to Zingsheim’s memo to the council.
The city’s total cost would be about $850,000 to $950,000, he said.
First Ward Ald. John Moran told the council he learned about the MWRD grant from a resident and brought it to the attention of city staff, who put the application together. He suggested the project would address some of the “stormwater management challenges” that have been facing the city.
Fourth Ward Ald. Roger Shubert questioned why this grant proposal was not brought to the City Council before staff submitted an application.
“That’s not our policy,” Mayor Marty Maloney responded. “I certainly don’t want to put handcuffs on staff for applying for grants. If we win them like we did in this case, we can always say no.”
Zingsheim described the Central Parking Lot as “in acceptable condition” currently, though there is pavement cracking on the west end and the lot will need to be rehabbed “in the next few years.”
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