PARK RIDGE, Ill. — The parking lot at Franklin Elementary School in Park Ridge, Ill., may look like an average asphalt lot, but nearly 400,000 gallons of water lie underneath.
In an effort to fix water and drainage issues throughout its campuses, the Park Ridge School District is building an underground system to drain standing water from surface areas around the school.
Franklin Elementary School, the first school in the district to receive the renovations, underwent 10 weeks of construction that finished in August 2011. The second system is slated for construction at Carpenter Elementary School this June, said Scott Mackall, director of facility management for the district.
The city of Park Ridge suffers from water issues in part because it has an inadequate sized storm-sewer system, Mackall said. The several inches of standing water that often accumulate as a result make for dangerous road conditions and school environments.
“During a heavy rain everything just stays wet,” Mackall said. “There are playgrounds that will stay underwater for a good couple of days after a storm and parking lots will have several inches of standing water, so this underground water system will help dry our sites out.”
As a result of Franklin Elementary School’s $1.6 million project, completed by Waukegan, Ill.-based Boller Construction, children can now use the playground area and go to school on a safer site. Mackall believes those results will be the same at Carpenter, which expects to finish construction in the fall, in time for students returning from summer vacation.
The Carpenter project costs $1.2 million and will be built by Wood Dale, Ill.-based George Sollitt Construction. Its underground water detention system will hold 392,000 gallons of water.
“Without the underground water detention at Carpenter, we can’t get kids back on site to play until about three days after a heavy rain,” Mackall said. “It’s just horrible.”
Park Ridge has a high-water cable and a small storm-sewer system, so it takes a long time for sites to dry out, Mackall said. The underground water detention will also help drain standing water from nearby homes, as it will alleviate the pressure off the city’s stormwater system.
Another benefit of the underground water detention system is that it requires no additional maintenance after installation, Mackall said.
“It’s a 100 percent improvement,” he said.