Broadview Goes Green With New Solar Energy Ordinance, Bike Path Grant And Green Alleys

The village of Broadview was recently awarded a $2.9 million grant to install a bike path on 25th Avenue. | File

Thursday, February 10, 2022 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Last week, the village of Broadview took a few steps toward its goal of becoming more environmentally sustainable. 

On Feb. 7, Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson announced that the village had won a $2.9 million grant from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to build a bike path along 25th Avenue. 

The same day, the village board voted unanimously in favor of a solar energy ordinance that would establish local standards related to the installation of solar panels in the village. 

“I’m really excited about this $2 million bike path grant because as we create a healthy lifestyle through biking, which will be an alternative form of transportation in Broadview, it will also give people who work in the industrial area a safe and healthy travel option,” Thompson said. 

“I am deeply grateful to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning for this $2.9 million bike path grant because of the healthy impact it will have on Broadview.”

Thompson said the bike path will stretch through the village’s industrial zone and the Cook County Forest Preserve. The engineering phase for the project will start this fall and construction is scheduled to start by the spring of 2024, she said. 

The village’s new energy ordinance is part of the Broadview Alliance for Sustainability, an initiative that Thompson started last year in order to help the village become more sustainable. 

“The Village of Broadview has identified renewable energy as one of its roadmap priorities,” according to a statement on the sustainability plan posted to the village’s website. 

Thompson developed and commissioned the Broadview Renewable Energy Business Collective in order to focus on energy equity and social determinants of health like air quality issues, according to the statement. The collective is “the first step in establishing Broadview’s renewable energy infrastructure.” 

During the meeting on Feb. 7, David Upshaw, Broadview’s building commissioner, said the village is participating in a program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy that helps governments reduce barriers to solar energy growth and makes it easier for homes and businesses to go solar. 

“The village’s goal is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” Upshaw said, adding that the village is working with the Urban Efficiency Group, a Black-owned energy consulting firm, in order to build out its solar infrastructure. Urban Efficiency Group also helped develop the Broadview Alliance for Sustainability. 

Upshaw said the village is “starting to see more [electrical vehicles] and more EV charging stations,” adding that about six households in the village have already installed solar panels. 

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“We are on the cutting edge of the solar movement right now in our community,” Upshaw said. 

Upshaw said that, while the solar energy ordinance is not required for households to install solar panels, the new ordinance is designed to introduce local regulations that are tailored to Broadview. 

“What we’re doing now is to be very specific,” he said. 

The ordinance includes local solar energy standards designed to “encourage the use of local renewable energy resources,” promote “sustainable building design and management practices” and assist local businesses with lowering “financial and regulatory risks and improve their economic, community, and environmental sustainability,” according to the text of the ordinance. 

Thompson said the village’s zoning board held meetings late last year to change the zoning ordinance. She added that the village is part of SolSmart, a national designation program designed to recognize communities that have taken key steps to address local barriers to solar energy,” according to its website. 

Broadview is currently designated bronze, Thompson said. The mayor said the new energy ordinance should help the village achieve gold, which is the highest designation. 

Broadview green alleys scheduled for completion 

During the meeting on Feb. 7, Matthew Ames, Broadview’s public works director, said the village has identified two alleys that will be outfitted with environmentally sustainable improvements thanks to $200,000 from the federal Community Development Block Grant program. 

The so-called green alleys are constructed with permeable pavement and other materials designed to mitigate urban flooding and provide more effective drainage. 

Ames said the two alleys identified for improvements through the grand funding include the alley directly behind the Broadview Senior Apartments at 2111 S. 17th Ave.; and the alley between 19th and 20th avenues, in the 2000 block. 

“After that, all the alleys north and south [in the village] would have been reconstructed, at least in my tenure,” Ames said. 

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