By Bob Uphues
Riverside officials are hoping that they'll be able to replace the narrow asphalt walking path that winds along the river bank in Swan Pond Park with a wider exposed aggregate concrete path in 2021, using either grant funding or funds earmarked by the state in 2019 for a permeable concrete path.
According to Public Works Director Edward Bailey, constructing a permeable concrete path along the riverbank would cost about $445,000. That is not only far greater than the $350,000 the state set aside for such a path in the 2019 capital bill, it also would provide no real benefit, said Bailey.
Permeable surfaces, like the village's two permeable-paver parking lots, are used to store storm water and divert it from the sewer system. Much of Swan Pond Park, including the area where the walking path is located, is a floodplain.
Typically, permeable surfaces require regular inspections and maintenance to make sure water can filter through them. When Swan Pond Park floods, the water can cover much of the path for days and would clog a permeable path.
"Since no storm water benefit will be realized from installing a permeable Swan Pond path, it is unclear whether it is feasible or possible (or whether there would be any requirement) to maintain the concrete's permeability," Bailey wrote in a memo to Village Manager Jessica Frances earlier this month.
During a discussion of the village's options for Swan Pond Park at the June 18 village board meeting, Bailey told trustees that constructing an impervious exposed aggregate concrete path that was 8- to 10-feet wide would cost far less than $350,000 and provide the best solution from a durability standpoint.
"I'm very satisfied that the best option is a concrete material," Bailey said.
Since it was constructed in 2012 as part of a major regrading project of Swan Pond Park by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the roughly 2,100-foot long, 4- to 6-foot wide asphalt path has been a source of frustration.
The path is not wide enough for bicyclists and pedestrians to share and is even difficult for two people with baby strollers to pass one another side by side. Flooding has eroded the earth beneath areas of asphalt, causing sections to collapse. Orange hurricane fencing routinely is used to mark off the danger zones where the path has collapsed. The most recent flood came in May.
Bailey is firming up cost estimates for an exposed aggregate path along the riverbank before Village President Ben Sells approaches state Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) to see whether the village might be able to use the funds set aside for a "permeable" path for an impervious one instead.
The village would also like to know whether that money might be able to be split between a couple of different projects. In addition to the Swan Pond path, the village would like to pave the commuter parking lot behind the commercial property at 20 E. Quincy St. with permeable pavers.
"If we can apply [the state money] to more than one project, we'd like to do that," Sells said.