Riverside trustees last month gave the go-ahead for staff to submit an application to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to obtain a federal grant to help pay for the installation of permeable pavers at a downtown parking lot that runs along the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad’s south right-of-way.
The U.S. EPA Section 319 Grant program, which refers to a section of the Clean Water Act, is administered at the state level. The grants were implemented to help fund water pollution control initiatives, including green infrastructure projects.
If awarded the grant would pay 60 percent of the total cost of the project, with the village responsible for the remainder.
At their meeting June 17, Riverside trustees settled on seeking a grant to pave Parking Lot 8, a U-shaped area which runs along the tracks from just east of the Arcade Building between the tracks and the buildings along the north side of East Quincy Street.
The asphalt pavement is severely deteriorated all along the 12,273-square-foot parking lot and reconstructing it with permeable pavers would cost an estimated $293,000, according to information presented to trustees by Finance Director Karin Johns and Public Works Director Dan Tabb.
Riverside provides daytime parking spaces in Lot 8 for First American Bank employees through an agreement that reportedly states the bank will pay a share for any improvements.
Were the lot repaved with asphalt, the cost would be about $123,000 — less than half the cost of permeable pavers. However, that kind of project would not be considered grant-eligible and pavers have a much longer life expectancy.
If completed, the lot would resemble other green parking lots the village has installed, such as the main commuter lot west of the Metra station and the village’s first green parking lot at 61-63 E. Burlington St.
The main commuter lot was funded in part by a grant from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. An IEPA grant also helped fund construction of the East Burlington Street permeable-paver parking lot in 2011.
Tabb and Johns presented three village parking lots as possible candidates for grant applications. In addition to Parking Lot 8, they also proposed Parking Lot 4 – a roughly 15,700-square-foot lot on the north side of Pine Avenue immediately west of Riverside Garage – and Parking Lot 5, an 11,500-square-foot lot along Riverside Road immediately east of the main fire station.
Staff had identified Lot 5 as the priority, since it is badly deteriorated and heavily used by the police and fire departments and village staff.
But trustees preferred Lot 8 due to its proximity to the railroad tracks and downtown businesses. The village has improved the streetscape in the area and is planning more upgrades along East Quincy Street once funding is available. Improving the municipal lot serving that area makes sense, said Trustee Cristin Evans
“I’d suggest Lot 8 as a contribution to the revitalization of the area,” she said.
Trustee Edward Hannon also said he preferred improving Lot 8 with a grant as a complement to the streetscape work already completed.
“If I’m picking between two lots, Lot 8 would have more visual impact,” Hannon said.
Village Manager Jessica Frances said that if trustees prefer Lot 8 as a grant candidate, she would still recommend at least some repairs to Lot 5 since it was becoming “a risk-management issue.”