One month after the River Forest Park District Board of Commissioners approved repaving a portion of the Williams Street path, which runs through Priory Park, commissioners have agreed to take a few months to consider other options.

The park board has been discussing ways to improve the path for the past few months. In October, commissioners agreed to focus on saving money for a new indoor facility. And, since they wanted to do something to address the deteriorating pavement, they agreed to go with the cheapest alternative possible – asphalt. 

During the Nov. 11 park board meeting, River Forest Village Administrator Eric Palm urged the park district to use permeable pavers instead. While he acknowledged that it would be more expensive, he felt that, given the village’s ongoing efforts to reduce flooding, he would be remiss not to suggest it. 

After prolonged discussion, the board agreed to take a few months to see whether they could get some funding for the pavers. Among other things, the park district will consider using the roughly $25,000 donation it received from the recently disbanded River Forest Women’s Club, which came with no strings attached.

Park district Executive Director Mike Sletten explained in October that staff had looked at three options: the permeable pavers, which would cost $29.65 per square foot; stamped concrete, which would cost $22 per square foot; and asphalt, which would cost $7.41 per square foot.

The plan specifically called for repaving the portion of the path that starts at Williams Street and continues east, stopping right before it bends south. Sletten said the current entrance was a two-prong fork-like layout, and the park district would remove the left prong, reducing the among of impermeable surface. The park district also planned to add a bioswale near the entrance to further reduce flooding. 

Palm said that, in the long run, the park district would save money, since the pavers have longer useful life, and it would benefit River Forest as a whole.

“Again, this adds cost to project, but we weigh it against the benefit of getting storm water out of the system,” Palm said.

Park board President Ross Roloff asked Palm if the village might be able to contribute some money toward the project, adding that if the park district replaced paths at every park with permeable pavers, “we’d go broke.”

Palm said he wouldn’t know the answer until he discussed that with the village trustees. His feeling, he said, was that, given how much money the village spent on storm water mitigation, there may not be appetite to fund more.

“The village would probably come back [and say], we spent the money, we’ve certainly done that, and we’re looking for our partners to do the same,” Palm said.

He did suggest that the park district look to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, noting that, in village’s experience, they were very willing to provide grants for storm water mitigation

Palm said he wasn’t necessarily pushing for brick pavers. There are other permeable surface options out there, and more alternatives get developed every year, he said.

After some discussion, the commissioners agreed to postpone the project until next spring and see what options are out there.

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Igor Studenkov

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Growing Community Media newspapers in 2012, then from 2015...