Parks & Schools Intergovernmental Agreements: A School District Perspective 

When funding sources are in limbo, available land is limited, and the overall quality of facilities and resources can be dramatically improved, it’s no wonder why school districts and park districts consider joining forces. Whether to share costs, and/or usage of facilities, forms of intergovernmental agreements (IGA), joint use agreements or shared use agreements can help both parties better serve their communities.

A School District Perspective: Why establish an IGA?
Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA) recently sat down with longtime client, Ted Birren, director of operations at Township High School District 214, to learn about the district’s experience establishing shared use and joint use agreements through IGAs.

District 214 currently has multiple formal agreements with Illinois park districts as well as a private soccer club.  The facilities outlined in these legally-binding documents include swimming pools, turf fields, athletic stadiums, locker rooms, theaters, classrooms, weight rooms, and general facility access.

Aside from sharing costs of facilities, how do such agreements benefit your district?
“In many cases the benefits include some sort of reciprocal use of facilities of the other party, benefits to district 214 students, benefits to the district community, and the general expanded use of the facilities to benefit the different constituencies of the District through the IGA or lease.”

How do you start the agreement process?
After building a relationship, Birren recommends seeking legal counsel.  “Reliance on attorneys for review is critical.  An attorney will have agreements of other clients that they can share with you to suit the needs of your district or agency.” He continued that after establishing an initial agreement, legal reviews of subsequent agreements often become considerably quicker.

What do these agreements generally look like?
In Birren’s experience, the documents typically include a statement of, “Introduction and legal authority of the school district, general purpose of the agreement describing what is proposed to be accomplished, term of the agreement, fees associated with use, maintenance and custodial responsibilities and costs, insurance requirements, severability, and signatures of the respective parties.

What three things would you tell governmental partners who are new to the process?
“Always keep your attorney in the loop and provided with a copy of your agreement.  Even in the best relationships, the agreement may need to be referenced for guidance down the road.” 

Birren also emphasized the importance of evaluating the longevity of the terms. “Be sure that all of the ideas about the relationship are put down on paper today so that the people in our positions of both parties several years from now will have no question as to intent or rules/regulations surrounding the agreement. “

If something is missing from an original agreement, “Agreements can always be amended without starting over,” Birren explained. Any additions to pre-existing agreements, “should be captured in writing as an addendum or amendment to the agreement.”

Zoning Law for Illinois School Districts: Continuing Challenges and Opportunities

The Illinois Supreme Court ruling of Gurba v. Community High School District, mandating that schools are subject to municipal zoning ordinances, continues to burden school districts. School board members and design team partners now face a host of new obstacles to overcome during the building permitting process.

Since the 2014 ruling and the new enforcement of zoning laws for Illinois school districts, our team has worked with school and architecture clients to navigate the new approval process and expedite projects as quickly as possible.

Along the way, our team has identified the following challenges and opportunities we feel school board members and design partners should be aware of prior to conducting site development projects:

One District, Multiple Municipalities: Sometimes larger school districts are tasked with juggling several zoning requirements enforced by multiple cities and villages. Experienced civil engineering consultants know the intricacies of the permitting process and can assist with securing the necessary approvals.

Consider a Tree Preservation Plan: Gone are the days when districts could execute landscape projects without a landscape plan.  Work with a landscape architect to develop a tree preservation plan to document existing trees, decrease landscape budgets, serve as the basic framework for a masterplan, and potentially lower the number of required trees.

Pedestrian Safety and Traffic Congestion: Did you know if projects only modify access they are not subject to municipal zoning review? Traffic and parking consultants can determine the requirements, design the improvements, and help school districts accomplish student safety initiatives.

Ask for a parking variance: Many schools do not meet parking zoning requirements for the number of spaces or parking space dimensions. Parking consultants can assist districts with submitting parking variances to reduce these requirements.

To learn more about how our team of civil engineering, traffic and parking, and landscape architecture consultants can help with your K-12 project, visit us at booth #510 during the Joint Annual Conference or contact us here.

Engaging Facility Operators to Reduce School Stormwater Pollution

At last month’s 2017 Midwest Facility Masters Conference, Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA) and FGM Architects presented an instructional and training session, “Improving Water Quality by Reducing Storm Water Generated Pollution.”  

Tom Hill, P.E., technical director at EEA, identified several stormwater pollutants typically generated on school sites.  His presentation detailed potential local and national consequences of the pollutants, as well as affects on the community, school patrons and students.

Tom also reviewed development strategies, maintenance needs, and operational techniques for reducing pollution runoff.  “We can reduce site generated pollutants from our school sites without reducing the level of safety or service provided to our communities,” he added during his presentation.

In addition to stormwater pollution training, encouraging facility operators to bring their perspectives to the design process can result in better treatment strategies for specific sites, maintenance capabilities, and institutional culture.

Eriksson Engineering Associates Stormwater Expert Featured at the APA Illinois Chapter Conference

*Rendering credit: SCB

At this year’s American Planning Association of Illinois (APA-IL) Conference, Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA), Solomon Cordwell Benz (SCB), the Village of Hillside, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) delivered a panel presentation, “Placemaking Through Stormwater Infrastructure and Economic Development.”

The design team, who worked together on a 70-acre commercial development site in Hillside, Illinois, shared their project experience and best practices for successfully designing an economic development in a flood-prone area. The Village of Hillside and the MWRD focused on budget-related issues, specifically the MWRD’s funding of the project.

During the project, EEA’s design team proposed managing stormwater through a large retention basin resembling a natural pond. Ben Ahring, PE, represented EEA for the panel, and explained the stormwater management strategy:

“The goal of the design was to use the water to create an amenity, while maximizing the site’s buildable area outside of the floodplain,” said Ahring, EEA senior project manager and the civil engineering consultant on the project. “The project’s application of stormwater management systems and development of a private public partnership offer some valuable lessons when managing urban flooding.”

The Village of Hillside is currently working with the MWRD and potential developers to fund the remaining phases of the project.

To learn more about the presentation and the speakers, visit the APA-IL’s program overview.

NAIOP Chicago Selects Eriksson Engineering Associates as Design Firm of the Year Finalist

Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA) is nominated for the second year in a row as a finalist for the NAIOP Chicago 2017 Awards for Excellence in the category of Design Firm of the Year.

The civil engineering, traffic and parking, and landscape architecture consultants received the nomination for its work on the Elmhurst 255 transit-oriented development, Ridge BC1 warehouse, and The Hudson, a 25-story mixed-use development in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.

EEA was also the project team civil engineer for the Kenect Apartments, a project finalist in the Multifamily Development of Year category.

“We are fortunate to work with some of Chicago’s most respected real estate developers, and have built strong working relationships with our city’s network of distinguished Architects,” said Mike Renner, EEA vice president and commercial market leader.  “Our consultants realize that even though the City skyline has significantly changed the past 20 years, our best work is often unnoticed, but moves our clients one step closer to creating successful developments.”

The NAIOP Awards for Excellence finalists are selected by a nominations committee comprised of local real estate professionals.

Winners are announced at the awards reception on Thursday, November 16 at the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom. Attendees will vote for all award winners during the event.

For a list of award finalists and to purchase tickets, visit the NAIOP Chicago 2017 Awards for excellence website at

Meet Our Team: Ryan Feeney, PE

Ryan Feeney, PE is a Project Engineer at Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA). Ryan is based in EEA’s Chicago office and is a member of the firm’s civil engineering team.

Ryan joined EEA in 2013, after graduating from the University of Illinois at Champaign with a degree in Civil Engineering. In July, Ryan successfully completed The Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam, earning the designation of Licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Illinois.

What inspired you to choose civil engineering as a career path?
In school I enjoyed challenging myself to view the concepts I studied from a big picture perspective and a multitude of angles.  Later, when I discovered a career in civil engineering could offer me continued learning, a variety of new experiences, and an opportunity to work alongside individuals with a range of perspectives, backgrounds, motivations, and expertise, I decided to pursue a degree in the field.

What is your role at EEA?
My role requires constant communication and teamwork. I perform a number of different tasks that combine my communication skills with my engineering and computation expertise. I regularly collaborate with team members and design team partners to guide projects from start to finish.

What is your favorite part of working for EEA?
The camaraderie amongst our EEA team and with our clients is my favorite part of working at EEA. As I continue to grow personally and professionally as an engineer, I increasingly appreciate our firm’s open-door structure and core values of teamwork and quality service.

The most rewarding part of your job?
Providing a service that is meaningful and essential to the community is incredibly rewarding. I find being part of a project that serves the greater good or needs of the community fulfilling.

What is your favorite EEA project to date?
The projects at Harper College. The large number of ongoing projects with diverse scopes of services mean there is never a dull moment. The work is interesting, engaging, and we appreciate the continued relationship with the college.

Outside the office, you can find Ryan playing basketball and attending local concerts.

The Chicago Building Congress Merit Awards 2017 is Almost Here

On Tuesday, May 23, 2017, professionals in the AEC industry will gather for the annual Chicago Building Congress Merit Awards Night dinner at the Marriott Magnificent Mile.

The event, hosted by the Chicago Building Congress (CBC), celebrates exceptional Chicagoland building industry projects completed within the last three years. Finalists are selected through an application process, followed by a group interview conducted by the CBC Awards committee to determine the award category winners. All projects are judged on distinctive/functional design, quality of construction, impact of the project on the community, and safety record.

What sets these awards apart is how project teams across multiple disciplines join together, sometimes even involving owners, to advocate for work they truly believe positively impacts the community.

This year, Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd. (EEA), was honored to act as consultants on the following nominated projects:

Our firm would like to congratulate all of the CBC Merit Awards 2017 finalists and we look forward to being a part of this important industry event.

Meet Our Team: Kristen Meyers, PE

Kristen Meyers, PE, is a Senior Design Engineer at Eriksson Engineering Associates, Ltd (EEA). She graduated from Bradley University in 2005 with a degree in Civil Engineering and brings 12 years of industry experience to EEA’s civil engineering team.

Kristen first joined EEA as an intern after meeting the firm’s president while leading a college campus tour at her now almamater, Bradley University.  She returned to EEA in 2016, and now works with suburban clients on a variety of projects.

What inspired you to choose civil engineering as a career path?

I was introduced to civil engineering at a very young age. My dad is a civil engineer and I frequently visited his office and this is where I saw my first set of engineering blueprints. Once I expressed some curiosity in the field, my dad continued to encourage my interest in math, science, and construction.  He would often explain his projects and site plans to me while working on his home office drafting table. When I was accepted to Bradley, I selected civil engineering as my major without hesitation.

 What is your role at EEA?

As a Senior Design Engineer, I am involved in many facets of site development. I perform site design, coordinate underground utilities, oversee the permitting process and help clients solve an array of site issues.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Serving others through our clients. Our firm works on many healthcare campuses, schools, senior living facilities and colleges/universities. As consultants, our works helps owners achieve their project’s vision- improving the lives of people in their communities.

What is your favorite EEA project to date?

I’m currently working on a bridge removal project for a suburban residential development. As the prime consultant, our team is working directly with the owner on developing a project manual, performing the design work, leading the bidding process, and overseeing the construction phase. This project captures what I like most about working in this field, the variety of work we perform on any given day.

Outside EEA, Kristen enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters on their sailboat.

EEA Promotions and New Hires


Tim Brown, PE, was promoted to Project Engineer.

New Hires

Kara Beck, Landscape Designer

Jeff Geldmyer, Design Engineer

Kristen Meyers, PE, Senior Design Engineer

Tom Petermann Featured in SMPS National Profile

Tom Petermann, P.E.

Tom Petermann, PE, Principal at EEA and the President of the Chicago Chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), was recently featured in the May issue of SMPS.

In the April issue of the nationally circulated publication for the organization, Tom was interviewed for the “SMPS Member Spotlight.”

Read the full-length feature here

New Chicago Location, Same Site Development Services

May 1, 2017 our Chicago office will be located three blocks south at:

135 South Jefferson Street
Suite 135
Chicago, IL 60661

EEA’s Chicago-based civil engineering, traffic & parking and landscape architecture staff can still be reached at:

(312) 463-0551

Our Take:  Will County CED Releases 2016 Growth Data

The Will County Center for Economic Development (CED) recently released its 2016 Annual Report. The county acquired 49 new business projects in 2016 which created more than 8,000 new jobs, $751.3 million in new investments and 15.2 million square feet of development. In light of the county’s development growth, we asked two of our project leaders to weigh in based on their professional experience working in Will County.

Civil Engineering in Will County

Rick Sinnott, senior project manager and head of EEA’s Mokena Office has lived and worked in Will County for nearly 30 years. He served on the Will County Stormwater Management Committee, South Suburban Home Builders Association legislative committee and was the chairman of the Mokena Site Plan & Architectural Review Committees.

RickSinnot_03From a civil engineering perspective, Sinnott believes the Will County Stormwater Ordinance will continue to benefit growing development. The ordinance
was created in 2002 to alleviate flooding and to minimize stormwater impacts from development.

“The biggest benefit is that all of the municipalities within Will County are using the same stormwater ordinance, so it has standardized the requirements,” said Sinnott. “My advice however is to always cross check with a licensed civil engineer to verify detention is not underestimated.”

Sinnott was most recently consulted about stormwater detention during the planning phases for a healthcare campus and medical office buildings in Will County.

Landscape Architecture and Conservation in Will County

Steven Gregory, PLA, ASLA, is EEA’s Director of Landscape Architecture. Gregory has worked in the south suburbs, including Will County for more than 20 years. He believes that another advantage of developing in Will County from a residential standpoint, is the adoption of the Will County Subdivision Ordinance. As a member of the South Suburban Builder’s Association (SSHBA), Gregory was previously the Municipal Outreach Committee Chair. He acted as a liaison between the SSHBA and Will County planning staff to revise the Will County Subdivision Ordinance in 2009. This gave him a deep understanding of the area’s development community.

What is the Will County Subdivision Ordinance?  

The recent change to the Will County subdivision Ordinance focuses on incorporating existing environmental elements including stands of native trees, wetlands, floodplains, and other topographic constraints into the design of a project. This concept is part of Low Impact Development (LID). In recent years unincorporated Will County has moved from traditional suburban development to a more conservation focused design approach.

The idea of LID is not a new concept, but before Will County Steven Gregory Eriksson Engineering.incorporated the principles into the ordinances it was seen as a suggestion. Now in ordinance form, it is enforceable and helps the county develop in a manner that is more respectful of natural features.

“By offering density bonuses for implementing conservation design principles, developers are encouraged to build projects with the same density on smaller footprints and strike a balance with either open site space and/or conservation easements,” said Gregory.  “In some cases this allows builders to keep or increase the number of units on a project while maintaining other open areas of the site for passive recreation opportunities.”

EEA is currently working on several projects within Will County, the south suburbs of Chicago and into Indiana. For more information about our civil engineering, landscape architecture and traffic engineering services please contact Principal and Director of Client Relations Tom Petermann at