The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) grant awarded to the Glen Ellyn Park District in October 2014 to provide partial funding to convert and repair the Ackerman Sports & Fitness Center parking lot continues to be withheld by the State of Illinois. As a result, the Park District has put the parking lot repairs on-hold until a resolution is determined. The District remains in contact with the IEPA and our elected state representatives and have been advised to continue to wait as the officials are somewhat optimistic the appropriated funds will be released once the state budget gets resolved. In the meantime, if the Park District was to move forward with the project before the grant funding is released, the Park District would not be eligible for reimbursement.
The Glen Ellyn Park District recognizes that the parking lot is in disrepair and not ideal, however it is still usable. This past summer, short-term improvements ($20,000) were made to provide the District some additional time in hopes the state eventually releases previously awarded funds. The Park District believes strongly in converting the lot from asphalt to permeable pavers because of the long-term environmental benefits but the project is dependent on the grant to pay the difference between permeable pavers and asphalt.
As a reminder, the Glen Ellyn Park District was successful in receiving an Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant (I.G.I.G.) through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in the amount of $439,290. With this support, the Park District was to retrofit the Ackerman Sports & Fitness Center’s 44,000 square foot, 145-car asphalt lot with interlocking permeable pavers and small areas of bioinfiltration to reduce runoff volumes and improve stormwater quality.
The Illinois Green Infrastructure Grant Program for Stormwater Management administered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) is a highly competitive process and the Glen Ellyn Park District is very thankful and appreciative of the award having applied for the grant two years in a row. Since 2011, thirty-six I.G.I.G. grants, totaling almost $15 million, have been made available to local units of government and other organizations to demonstrate green infrastructure best management practices to control stormwater runoff for water quality protection in Illinois. Acres of permeable pavement parking lots, alleys, riparian zones and rain gardens are techniques now in place to help restore, mimic or enhance natural hydrology to protect and improve local water quality.
The parking lot is heavily used by patrons of the Ackerman Sports & Fitness Center and the surrounding soccer fields and has been in disrepair for several years. The lot serves over 250,000 annual users of the center along with many additional patrons that utilize the surrounding 65 acres of open space, natural areas, and athletic fields. While benefitting the water quality for the East Branch DuPage River, the implementation of these measures will also provide and model responsible and innovative environmental practices in a highly visible and heavily utilized area.
The Glen Ellyn Park District believes strongly in having a positive impact on the environment and being a responsible steward of open space and natural areas. As a District, several green initiatives have been put in place within our programs, parks, and facilities. Consistent with those practices, removing the current asphalt and replacing it with permeable pavers will not only provide a better surface for the users of the facility and the patrons of the park and surrounding soccer fields, but will be consistent with the environmental initiatives of the District. Surrounded by open space on the north and wooded and wetland areas on the south, this application will benefit the immediate area and the surrounding communities.