A portion of the Swan Pond Park walking path, which was destroyed by flooding in April, will be rebuilt this summer and possibly may be widened, Riverside Village Manager Peter Scalera announced in early June.

A section of the 4-foot-wide path near the former location of the Fairbank Dam collapsed on April 18 when flood waters overtopped the flood wall and washed away the path’s base. Officials in May sought to have repairs made by the Army Corps of Engineers, under whose supervision the path was completed last fall.

However, the Army Corps refused to pay for rebuilding the path, since it was washed out, they contended, by an act of God and not because of any error in construction. Eventually, Riverside negotiated with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Army Corps’ partner on the park improvements, to have them pay to repair the path.

“We made the argument that because the damage happened so soon after it was completed and because they did not have the opportunity to have the turf [at the base of the path] take hold, it contributed to the failure of the path,” said Scalera.

While the IDNR has promised to pay to at least rebuild the path as it existed in April, Riverside officials are now considering widening the path, in part to prevent what happened in April from happening again, and partly because at 4 feet, the path was simply too narrow.

“The village [board] will have to determine if it wants to widen the path,” said Scalera. “But it will either be repaired or expanded. Our goal is to have it repaired as soon as possible.”

According to Jeff Zuercher, project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, the cost estimate for simply repairing the path is about $40,000. Widening the path would cost another $20,000, said Zuercher. Funds to pay for widening the path would come out of general operating fund reserves, said Scalera.

In addition to possibly paying to widen the path south of the large, paved plaza area near the WPA wall, Riverside will have to shell out some money to re-seed the depressed swale area where water collects after significant rain events.

While seed was planted there last fall, it apparently was washed away in a series of both snow and rain events during the past eight months. That section is a muddy area which more often than not has been home to pools of water, large and small, throughout the spring.

“A big part of it has to do with the weather,” said Scalera, “and because of the weather the seed has not had the opportunity to take. If we already had a green area there, I don’t believe it would have remained as wet as it has.”

Scalera said one rumor going around, that the culvert wasn’t working properly and water has been backing up into the park from the river through the outfall structure, is not true.

“We went out and tested to verify it is not backing up,” said Scalera.

The Army Corps of Engineers last week was onsite, beginning to plant the 1,000 plugs of native plant material that will help define the natural swale where storm water will collect before heading out to the river via a new concrete culvert built last year to improve drainage.

“The native species are more water tolerant,” said Zuercher. “They’ll help uptake water and make it look nicer.”

Scalera said the village still hopes the open meadow in the middle of Swan Pond Park will be usable this year for recreation programs such as soccer. The wet ground so far has made that impossible.

“We’re hoping in the fall to put a soccer field down there,” said Scalera. “I think the plantings will help in the swale, and we have to make a determination on what to seed.”

Other shrubs and water willow specimens have been planted this spring along both south and north riverbanks upstream of the former Hofmann Dam, which was notched last summer. The riverbanks have bloomed into large, flat areas of greenery.