Stormwater runoff is a big deal these days in the ongoing conversation about overrun water systems. Large impermeable surfaces significantly contribute to the issue, and many communities are considering charging fees to property owners, especially businesses, who have such surfaces, like parking lots. In Park Ridge, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, grant money is potentially available to create a “green” parking lot, a trend that may be on the rise.
The proposed venture, estimated at just over $1 million, would rebuild the Central Parking Lot located next to the Park Ridge Public Library with brick pavers that are permeable. The grant, worth up to $650,000, would come from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. The city would be responsible for the balance of the cost, although City Attorney Adam Simon explained that the city council “must first approve an intergovernmental agreement with the MWRD.” One of the requirements of the agreement mandates that the city assume responsibility for the upkeep of the parking lot and provide MWRD with reports of any repairs or upgrades to the lot. The agreement also stipulates no redevelopment of the property and that the city must adhere to MWRD’s established guidelines for purchasing in capital projects. If the conditions are not met, MWRD could demand the grant be repaid.
Before getting the grant, the project has to prove that it can meet the retainage expectations set by MWRD, who requires that approximately 193,000 gallons of storm water be retained by the lot; however, the project seems more likely to merely to delay storm water going into the city’s sewer system instead of being reabsorbed into the ground.
The cost of the “green” lot is greater than a concrete lot which would only be $200,000, and the annual maintenance costs are currently unknown for the paver lot but are projected to be greater than those for a concrete lot. The paver lot comes in ahead on life-span, concrete lots usually lasting 15 – 20 years and the paver lot lasting as long as 50 years. The issue comes down to priorities—going green costs more and the city has to decide if it’s worth it.
 Johnson, Jennifer. “’Green’ Parking Lot Grant for Park Ridge Comes with Strings, Costs.” Chicagotribune.com, Chicago Tribune, 28 May 2019, www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/park-ridge/ct-prh-green-parking-lot-grant-tl-0530-story.html.
Photo Credit: Brad.K, Flickr