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Park Ridge zoning board OKs Carpenter water detention project

Carpenter Elementary School in Park Ridge plans to build a water detention system to alleviate flood for neighbors and the school. (Tribune file photo)

Carpenter Elementary School in Park Ridge plans to build a water detention system to alleviate flood for neighbors and the school. (Tribune file photo)

A $1.1 million flood alleviation project at Carpenter Elementary has gotten a nod of approval from the Park Ridge zoning board, though its fate rests in the hands of the City Council.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will recommend the Park Ridge school receive a special-use permit to retain the number of parking spots in the lot as it builds an underground storm water retention system. Plans call for the 38-car parking lot to be replaced during the project, though the district doesn’t want to expand the parking site as required by city code to 56 spaces in order to maintain limited play areas and green space.

“It’s a very small lot…we just need every ounce of space we can for those kids to be outside and to get their social skills and just be kids,” said Scott Mackall, the district’s director of facility management.

About a year ago, the district formed a development committee of neighbors, parents and Carpenters staff members to discuss the flooding and drainage problems and work with the district’s architect to create a solution. Many of those members and dozens of others flooded City Hall during the zoning meeting to express support for the proposal, which was vetted heavily at the School Board level.

“Once this project is completed, it’s going to be much much better for the kids,” said neighbor Dale Seaberg.

The board had two project designs to choose from, but ultimately picked the least expensive option that didn’t eliminate play space for the school, which has the smallest acreage in the district. Walkways and play areas will also be improved.

The school is also asking for several exceptions, like less landscaping and a variation of fence sizes to appease neighbors and enclose playground space. The underground water detention system will alleviate flooding neighbors experience, district officials said.

The City Council will likely review the concept at a May 7 meeting and ratify their vote on May 21, said City Planner Jon Branham.

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