Riverside village trustees on Nov. 7 are scheduled to vote to widen the scope of a local law that mandates the type of concrete to be used for sidewalks, a change that could end up costing residents more money.
Trustees Lonnie Sacchi and James Reynolds are pushing to require that in addition to sidewalks, all driveway aprons and carriage walks (those are the short, narrow sidewalks that extend from the sidewalk to the curb) be constructed of exposed aggregate concrete.
Their goal is to create uniformity for hard surfaces to allow them to fade into the background and avoid jarring patches of white concrete and the current “patchwork” of materials allowed right now.
“We certainly owe it to our heritage and our village to use what Olmsted has laid forth in terms of depressing the roadways … so that when you looked across the landscape you saw only green and we would like the sidewalks to color down and kind of disappear in that respect too,” said Reynolds during a discussion on the issue earlier this month.
Sacchi argued during the same discussion that amending the statute to extend the exposed aggregate rule to driveway aprons and carriage walks simply made sense. Quoting a 25-year-old historic landscape conservation and evaluation plan completed by the University of Illinois, Sacchi said it’s important to impose consistent standards.
“We should be imposing a consistent standard and aesthetic throughout the village and on the public lands, not on people’s private property,” said Sacchi, who also referred to a 1981 study by local architect and former trustee Edward Straka, which said hardscape should be “harmonious with and inconspicuous” with the landscape.
“We’re not imposing some new standard,” said Sacchi. “We’re merely seeking consistency.”
But opponents of the amendment, particularly trustees Joseph Ballerine and Ben Sells, argued that there is no “Olmstedian” mandate calling for exposed concrete to be used – the law requiring exposed aggregate for sidewalks dates to the 1970s – and that it is significantly more expensive that ordinary concrete.
“The part that says that exposed aggregate somehow makes Riverside special just eludes me, because it didn’t come in until the 1970s,” said Sells, who appeared to be arguing that perhaps the village could abandon its use of exposed aggregate for sidewalks in favor of ordinary concrete because of the additional cost. Exposed aggregate concrete costs about 40 percent more than broom-finished concrete.
“If you’re looking at a homogenous perspective, you can accomplish that just as well with broom-finished concrete. “
Mandating exposed aggregate for driveway aprons and carriage walks will increase the cost of road resurfacing projects and will increase the cost for any resident who wishes to replace his driveway apron on his own.
Ballerine pointed to a recent resurfacing project on Blythe Road, where finishing driveway aprons in exposed aggregate added thousands of dollars to the final cost.
“The decision was made along the way to go from brushed concrete to exposed aggregate, and that decision generated a $10,000 change in cost,” Ballerine said. “Just that small section ended up costing us almost $11,000 more than it would if we had just used brushed concrete.”
In addition, opponents said that the exposed aggregate is not as durable as ordinary concrete, a claim Reynolds disputed, pointing to decades-old examples of exposed aggregate in the village.