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Construction season is underway, and the Village of Park Forest plans to utilize nearly $4 million in grant funds to make improvements in the community this year.
The Department of Public Works Assistant Director Nick Christie said the Village applies for every grant it qualifies.
"There's a process to obtain grants for roadway projects," Christie said. "Funds from the federal government are often issued to the states. From there, Illinois distributes the funds through the regional planning agencies before Park Forest can apply for them locally. Federal funding is typically only eligible on larger collector roads, which comprise only a small percentage of Village roadways."
Park Forest has landed numerous grant awards in recent years to help fund various projects.
"The grants the Village seeks goes beyond roadways. We replaced all the street lights in Park Forest with LED lights, which ComEd covered approximately 85% of that cost," Christie said. "Additionally, the Village received over $1 million from the Army Corps of Engineers to replace a water main on Dogwood Street. We also received $300 thousand from the Cook County Community Development Block Grant to rehabilitate sanitary sewers in the Eastgate Neighborhood."
Regarding road construction, Christie mentioned that the current Shabbona Drive reconstruction project costs nearly $3 million, and grants are paying almost $2.4 million to help cover 80% of that project.
This year, the Village received $350 thousand from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which will be applied to a future street resurfacing project. Christie said the Village also received $3 million in Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) funds to improve the Forest Boulevard corridor.
"Between the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan, Rebuild Illinois Funds, and a water main loan, the Village received more than $9 million over the last year that replaced three miles of roadway and water main across Park Forest and paid to install a new water tower at our water treatment plant," Christie said.