Park Forest Department of Public Works Makes Its Case For FY 2016-2017 Budget

Sink hole at Suwanee and Miami Streets
Park Forest Public Works discovered a sink hole near Miami and Suwanee Streets in November 2011. (Photo: VOPF)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Village Board met Tuesday evening for its second budget session. On the agenda: Public Works, the Motor Fuel Tax Fund, the Water Department, Sewage, Municipal Parking, Refuse, and Vehicle Services as they pertain to Public Works.

When discussing Public Works, Mayor John Ostenburg asked if it would be possible to defer some work to pick up $30,000 or so for street repair. Staff pointed out that $30,000 does not do a lot (indeed, eNews Park Forest has previously reported that it costs over $1 million per mile to resurface a street). However, Mayor Ostenburg said that $30,000 was better than nothing and residents are complaining about the conditions of side streets in particular.

According to Public Work’s Nicholas Christie, fifty-two sunken manholes were rebuilt last year. Christie said that DPW will sometimes receive calls about potholes only to discover that there is actually a collapsed manhole cover that needs to be dealt with. Each Park Forest street has several manhole covers. Christie says there are some areas of town where sanitary sewers have collapsed, so these are on the docket for funding for repair in the Sewer Fund.

Most of the sanitary sewer system is gravity fed, according to Christie. However, there are areas of town where gravity is not enough. This led to the construction years ago of pumping and lift stations to keep the sewage moving in the proper direction. There are four lift stations for the sanitary system in Park Forest. The oldest is on Sangamon Street and will cost $300,000 to replace. On the docket in the upcoming fiscal year.

On to the water fund. This means rate increases, previously approved by the board. These will top out at $15.68 per 1,000 gallons used in 2018.

There were 117 water main breaks repaired in 2015 and 5 water main valves replaced.

According to Chief Water Plant Operator David Vavrek, every three years the water system undergoes lead and copper testing. The last required tests were in October 2014. There is currently no lead detected in the system.

The current water plant has been online since 2007. There are regular maintenance items that need attention, according to Director of Public Works Roderick Ysaguirre.

The upcoming budget includes $100,000 for water main repair clamps, pipe, fittings, hydrants, valves, stone, and asphalt.

Fewer people are recycling, according to numbers provided by Homewood Disposal.. In 2011, Park Foresters recycled 1,198 tons of recyclables. This dropped to 1,126 tons in 2012, 1,111 tons in 2013, 1,059 tons in 2014, and only 972 tons in 2015. These figures are only for residential homes, not multi-family areas, which have their own contracts.

Village Manager Mick suggested that some of the downward trends in recycling are related to more vacancies that stem back to the housing bubble collapse and the Great Recession.

Finance Director Mary Dankowski called the board’s attention to page 16-4 which shows a drop in water pumped from 558,800,000 gallons in 2011 to 444,087,000 in 2015. Water billed was 432,405,570 gallons in 2011 and 399,076,629 gallons in 2015.

The Municipal Parking Fund shows a net income loss of 15%. The Village will not have to subsidize municipal parking yet, but this will have to happen in the future if these trends continue, according to staff.

Mayor Ostenburg suggested that a $0.25 increase might be called for in municipal parking lots. He stressed that if people were driving to Chicago daily, there would be tremendous wear and tear on their vehicles, plus parking in excess of $40 per day.

The other question, according to the mayor, if our lots are not filling up, do we need two lots?

There are no cameras in either of the Metra lots Park Forest owns. While cameras are in the Department of Public Works’ capital plan, there is no funding to purchase or maintain the cameras, according to staff.

Public Works wrapped up its presentation at 7:23 p.m. There were no questions from the board members at the end. There were only two questions from board members during the presentation while eNews Park Forest was present. Mayor Ostenburg engaged staff in several discussions.

Trustees McCray and O’Neill were not present.

Again, there were no questions from board members at the end.