In a surprise move, the City Water Department, as part of an update on efforts to sell water, today (April 1) proposed Penny Park as the site of a reconstructed water reservoir. Penny replaces Leahy Park, on the northwest side of Evanston, for geographic and engineering reasons.
The proposal dovetails with city plans as the Public Works Department announced 2014 capital improvement projects at the same time. Penny Park is slated for a complete overhaul soon and "it just makes sense to add the water structure while we are at it," said City Revenue Tsar Pearl LeBlanc. "This is something we have to do anyway." Construction is estimated to last about three years.
Penny Park is closer to Lincolnwood, a potential water customer, and Touhy Avenue, the probable location of a water conduit should Park Ridge, Morton Grove and Niles decide to become customers as well. While the City has yet to secure any additional water customers as of today, Ms. LeBlanc said that the deal we offer and the savings such communities would realize make it "a no brainer. I mean, who wouldn't buy from us? Just look at how much they will save."
The new Penny Park will take advantage of the water beneath it to add dozens of water features. Because of engineering and space concerns, the entire park will be raised by approximately 12 feet about current level, with steps and ramps leading to the water feature, rest room facilities, and proposed sledding hill. An installation of solar panels will warm water in the spring and fall months allowing the water features to remain open for approximately five months out of the year.
"There's room for a 10 millipon gallon tank if we dig deep enough," said Ms. LeBlanc. "And the kids will love the water features." A proposal for folding water features that would disappear into the ground to make way for an ice skating rink in the winter was deemed too expensive with an additional $3 million going on top of the $44 million for the tank, pipes and water features.
Local curmudgeon Bettie June blasted the proposal, saying, "We don't need it. We have a perfectly good water reservoir and a perfectly good Penny Park. Why waste all this money?"
The proposal will appear before City Council Tuesday, April 1 for final vote.