Riverside trustees on March 5 voted to authorize applying for a $200,000 state grant to replace the asphalt walking path in Swan Pond Park with a permeable concrete path that would be wider and ought to be more resistant to erosion.

A Bicycle Path Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources would supplement $350,000 in funding the village received for the construction of a permeable path along the river in the capital bill approved by the Illinois General Assembly last June and signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Riverside’s 2020 budget includes a $500,000 line item for constructing a new path in Swan Pond Park, to replace the one installed after the park was regraded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2012.

The existing path has been a disappointment almost from the start, due to its width and lack of durability. At between 4- and 6-feet wide along most of its length, it’s difficult for two people to walk side by side, much less allow for others on foot or on bicycles to pass.

In addition, the path has had to be repaired on several occasions – the first less than a year after it was installed – due to flooding that has become a common occurrence since the removal of the Hofmann and Fairbank dams in 2012.

Record flooding in April 2013 demonstrated that the roughly 2,000-foot long asphalt path was prone to being undermined by erosion, especially upstream in Swan Pond Park near the site of the Fairbank Dam and downstream near the drainage culvert installed by the Army Corps in 2012.

The village is now proposing to install a 10-foot wide permeable concrete path to replace the asphalt one, and while there’s no guarantee it won’t suffer damage as a result of erosion during floods, it should hold up better.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect solution,” Public Works Director Edward Bailey told trustees at the March 5 village board meeting. “Concrete is probably the most durable material given the amount of erosion that occurs there.”

Of particular concern to Bailey is the erosion that occurs along the river near the drainage culvert, where flooding has at times washed out portions of the bank.

“We want to build some kind of structure down at that downstream end that is more resistant to erosion,” Bailey said. “I think the way that Swan Pond stands right now, it would be subject to repeated incidents of erosion. … I think that’s just the nature of the beast down there.”

In light of the chance for future repair of a concrete path, should it be built Trustee Edward Hannon asked village staff to look at historical data in order to determine what kind of future maintenance cost there might be.

Hannon said he was fully in favor of replacing the path, but suggested the village board be fully aware of a potentially costly, and repeated, future capital expense.

“Based on historical data, and the times we’ve repaired the asphalt, what do we anticipate in the next 10 years the cost of repairing this permeable path, just so we have an idea of what we’re undertaking?” Hannon asked. “I think this would be a spectacular addition, bring more people coming into the downtown area, through the village. I just want to make sure we’re doing this in a way that doesn’t ruin that objective.”

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