A new Glen Ellyn commuter parking lot will be the first village-owned lot with permeable pavers, an environmentally friendly feature meant to reduce stormwater runoff.
The sidewalk in front of the new lot at 460-478 Duane Street will also have brick pavers -- ones that aren't permeable, but perhaps have an aesthetic advantage, as Glen Ellyn leaders try to spruce up the village's downtown streetscape.
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One village trustee, however, is questioning whether the new walkways will be a potential tripping hazard for pedestrians.
"I do not believe this is a safe and effective method for our sidewalks," said Trustee Diane McGinley, who cast the lone vote this week against approval of a $575,000 construction contract for the new 47-space parking lot, sidewalks and related features. "There's runners, joggers, (and those in) wheelchairs and strollers who will not appreciate this new design."
Village planners are using the parking lot as a pilot project before considering full-scale implementation of a streetscape plan, which recommends brick paver sidewalks instead of concrete throughout downtown. The plan would encompass $10 million worth of projects such as new curbs, light poles and seatwalls, which are raised planters that would be adjacent to sidewalks.
The sidewalk fronting the new Duane Street parking lot would have three 12-foot brick paver panels.
Public Works Director Julius Hansen said the pavers would provide a "good test" to see if they should be expanded to the rest of downtown.
"It's probably better to do now as a test pilot than on a larger scale in the future," Hansen said. "We'll see how it holds up and if it passes everyone's inspections, then we can move forward with a bigger plan."
But McGinley told fellow village board members this week that she doesn't plan to support brick paver sidewalks throughout downtown now or in the future.
"I think if you go forward with this, next time you'll get a $10 million paver request for downtown and they will point to this and say, 'It works here, so bring it to the rest of downtown so it doesn't look like it's on its own,'" she said. "We'll be forced into a decision in the future."
McGinley also cited brick pavers that were installed on Pennsylvania Avenue; they are deteriorating and have required maintenance.
Hansen said those pavers were not installed correctly.
Even though Trustee Robert Friedberg voted in favor of the parking lot and sidewalk project, he noted the bricks could become hard to clean after heavy salting during the winter months. Even after pressure washing, he says, the bricks will have a white glaze.
Trustee Tim Elliott agreed with the concept of using the brick pavers in the Duane Street project as a test case for the rest of downtown.
"Let's do three panels. It's just three panels. Let's see what happens," Elliott said. "If we have unsightly white bricks that are knocking over old ladies, then we can do away with it."
The project is being funded in part by a $851,810 federal grant. After costs of land acquisition, design, construction and oversight are taken into account, the village will be responsible for paying about $280,000.
The village purchased the vacant land last year for $445,000 after the property went into foreclosure and was taken by a bank.
A proposed 7-unit row house development was approved by the village in May 2009, but it never came to fruition due to the recession.
As a condition of the federal grant, the village transferred ownership of the property to Metra. Should village officials later decide to use the property for another purpose, the commuter parking spaces would have to be relocated elsewhere in the downtown area.
The commuter spaces will be available to the public for free after 11 a.m. each day.
Construction is expected to be complete by November.