Plainfield Township Park District considers plan to compost manure

PLAINFIELD – Plainfield Township Park District commissioners said a plan by staff to compost manure left behind by horses at the Normantown Trails Equestrian Center needs more work.

But what smelled real fishy at Wednesday’s board meeting was the lowest bidder on several parks projects, which staff identified as a nonresponsible bidder after contacting other park districts.

In his staff report, Director of Parks Gene Coldwater sought board direction to move forward on a plan to create a feasible composting program using the manure from horses.

Currently, the park district pays $260 a week for a 30-cubic-yard manure dumpster to be picked up. Starting a small composting program could allow the park district to eliminate one pickup every month, saving the district $3,120 a year.

“This has been a long-running question in the district ever since we took over the equestrian center, how to get rid of the manure,” Coldwater said.

Coldwater said his research revealed that using a store-bought product yielded better growth than manure, which is unpredictable. Landscapers and farmers said they weren’t interested in the manure.

Also, several park districts compost in smaller amounts, he said.

The cost of acquiring new concrete bins was estimated at $3,000, and it would require $500 in monthly maintenance to produce 4 cubic yards.

But there is always the smell.

“That’s the huge issue with composting manure,” Commissioner Larry Newton said.

Commissioners were concerned that composting at the Normantown Trails Equestrian Center at 12151 S. Normantown Road was too close to homes in the area. Also, transporting the manure to a different composting site would require driving through populated areas.

A clearer cost savings estimate wasn’t available.

“I am definitely not [opposed to composting],” Newton said. “I don’t think we’ve investigated it fully yet.”

Continental Construction

The board needed to reject the lowest bidder on several large parks projects because the construction company yielded negative reviews.

Evanston-based Continental Construction LLC lost out on $222,800 for three parks contracts because of bad reviews from other park districts.

Director of Planning Jennifer Rooks-Lopez said after the meeting that she couldn't confirm if Continental was the same company that the Shorewood-Troy Public Library had issues with for its major construction project.

The Mayfair Park site development project, which included updating it to ADA standards, new play equipment, landscaping and improved lighting, bid was awarded at $160,732 to Plainfield-based Fuerte Systems, which also won a $56,065 bid for ADA path and seating improvements for Four Seasons Park, and a $42,265.44 bid for shelter improvements at Olde Renwick and Whisper Glen.