Elgin Greens Its Infrastructure

The city of Elgin is planning to make its infrastructure more sustainable.

Elgin City Council members [last week discussed] moving forward with two green infrastructure initiatives… One would create bioretention basins in the South West Area Neighborhood and the other would redo most of the city hall parking lot with special pavers that absorb water.

Aaron Cosentino, management analyst for the city, said both projects will help manage stormwater runoff.

“They’ll help filter the stormwater before it enters the Fox River, providing better quality water to residents,” Cosentino said.

Both initiatives will pull some pollutants from the water before it gets to the river, providing a benefit for all the nonhuman parts of the ecosystem as well, Cosentino said.

The council already agreed to work with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency on the SWAN project and is set to approve an agreement with Ringwood-based Trotter and Associates for engineering services. From December to June, the company will meet with SWAN residents to identify properties for the landscaped areas with deep-rooted native plants — the first of which would be installed in the spring and early summer of 2012. The remaining sites will be installed between this summer and fall of 2014.

There will be 24 to 36 bioretention basins, designed to slow and treat stormwater runoff, as well as two special paver alleys at the project’s completion. Trotter and Associates will conduct analyses throughout the project to show the effectiveness of the new sites on runoff reduction and water quality. Cosentino said the stormwater management could also reduce flooding.

The Elgin City Council also approved a proposal to let citizens vote on negotiating its electricity contracts.

City council members on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to put a question on the March 20 ballot. If approved, city officials expect to save residents and small businesses an average of 20 percent on their electric bills by using bulk purchasing power to negotiate lower rates with alternative suppliers.

“If the city finds a better electric rate that ComEd’s, then all city residents and small businesses will use the new provider,” read a memo to council members. “Residents or small businesses who wish to keep receiving power from ComEd at the higher rate may individually choose to opt out.”

If a new provider is selected, the electricity would still come through ComEd’s infrastructure and that company would still issue the bills and take calls in the case of power outages.

In approving the ballot measure, council members also indicated support for choosing Chicago-based BlueStar Energy Solutions as a consultant to help conduct outreach and education leading up to the vote as well as choose an alternative energy supplier if the ballot question is approved.

Elgin’s initiatives are explored in several Roosevelt University seminars, including SUST 310 Energy and Climate Change, and SUST 320 Sprawl, Transportation, and Planning (both offered online in Spring 2012). If you are a currently-enrolled Roosevelt University student interested in taking one or more Sustainability Studies courses, please get in touch with your academic advisor.  (As this autumn’s courses filled up quickly, we encourage you to register sooner rather than later.)  If you are not currently a Roosevelt University student, we encourage you to investigate our degree options, and our course listings.  For more information, please visit our Sustainability Studies website, call 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU) or email applyRU@roosevelt.edu.

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