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Elmhurst City Council presents plan for future flood prevention

ELMHURST – Mayor Steve Morley remarked that he was surprised at the turnout and level of participation following the first meeting of the new Elmhurst City Council this week.

More than 100 residents crowded into City Council chambers, flowing out the doorway on Monday, to talk about flooding. About a dozen commented during the meeting about their personal experiences during the April 17 and 18 record storm.

"Cut the marketing," resident Kathleen Sullivan told the aldermen, suggesting the City Council focus more on citywide issues such as flooding than developing businesses. "We did not need a Groupon when the water was peaking on my street from Explore Elmhurst."

Other longtime residents described chronic flooding problems that have plagued their homes for years or even decades. Some offered suggestions and asked for increased discussion between aldermen and residents.

All seemed to stress the need for a solution sooner rather than later.

"All city systems worked as planned with a few exceptions," City Manager Jim Grabowski said. He further explained that the storm pumping station at Jackson Street tripped off to avoid overheating, but the alarm was not sent to the operator when it happened. A wireless mesh communication system is being implemented to prevent this from occurring again.

A sanitary pump station at North and Clinton avenues also shut down due to a flooded transformer during last month's storms. This station needs two pumps replaced and two other pumps currently are being repaired.

The estimated costs of these repairs is $120,000.

"Approximately three weeks ago, the City Council approved a design contract for the $6 million Southwest Elmhurst Wet Weather Control Facility, which was the highest-rated project helping the most number of homeowners," Grabowski added.

Doug Gotham of Christopher B. Burke Engineering presented one concept plan Monday for proposed stormwater storage that involves using land owned by both the park district and school district. Gotham added that Burke has successfully designed similar projects in Downers Grove, Tinley Park, Gurnee and other communities.

"Our goal through this entire process was to make these facilities work as a stormwater facility, but also work for the park district or school district use," he said.

City officials stressed that these concepts were preliminary, as they still need to discuss them with the involved parties. The one concept presented would depress Golden Meadow Park soccer field, creating 14 acre-feet of floodwater storage.

The area currently holds one to two acre-feet of water.

"It would be constructed of a porous soil material so the grass would grow," Gotham said. "The play would be better probably than it is today."

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