By Anna Lothson
The news of nine new Oak Park alleys being replaced isn't much to talk about. But nine alleys with permeable pavement, purchased through a hefty state grant, is a different story.
As part of a project proposed for the 2014 budget, the village will put up a total of $254,442 for the project that will be paired with an Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant worth $763,327 toward a Green Alley Program that will replace the alleys with new environmentally-friendlier pavements.
The Village of Oak Park's engineering department submitted a grant in December 2012 through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for the construction of these green alleys. The alleys were already scheduled for replacement in the next few years, according to a village memo, but this grant will help bump those improvements up to next year. The village received the full requested grant amount.
The green alley plan aligns with the village's sustainability vision and its being done as a "best management practice" to improve the performance of the village's sewer system. The alleys are also located in areas with anticipated sandy soils to minimize construction costs and maximize permeability, according to a village report.
The project is scheduled to be designed by staff and constructed in the summer of 2014. Village Engineer Jim Budrick gave a brief update about the village's pilot program Monday and said the program has been successful and has helped kept drain holes open and water percolating into the soil.
Trustee Ray Johnson praised the department for securing funds for a project that wouldn't have been fully achievable without grant money.
"Congratulations. That's a significant grant. …Good work and thank you," he told the village engineers at Monday's meeting.
OP public works department is 'fit,' says magazine
According to an October edition of Public Works Magazine, the Village of Oak Park's public works department has worked hard to stay "fit."
"[Oak Park] isn't just home to the world's largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes. It's also where 57 public works employees are setting the bar for environmentally friendly services for 52,000 people just west of Chicago," the article reads.
The short piece highlights Oak Park's electronic materials collection, its annual green expo and the numerous residents that joined the food composting program.
The village's LEED Gold public works fleet services facility and its vehicles that are run on bio-diesel, trucks that use compressed natural gas, along with two hybrid vehicles and one electric vehicle are also mentioned.
The village is credited for the effort of employees like Public Works Director John Wielebnicki, Budrick and others who work for the village who uses bikes to get to meetings, pump stations, construction sites and traffic signals.
In 2008, according to the article, Oak Park employees also repurposed multiple abandoned bicycles the police department had collected and turned them into usable bikes for village employees to use for work-related transportation.