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Resident proposes cost-sharing programs to manage stormwater

ELMHURST – A resident presented flood-proofing options Monday to the Public Works and Buildings Committee to consider for a cost-sharing program.

"Individual home flood proofing [are] things we can do immediately," said Elmhurst resident Dan Beedon. "So I suggested the committee take a look at some cost-sharing programs that are similar to the sanitary programs that the city's implemented."

Dan Beedon shared photos of his home on Parkside Avenue after the June 2010 storm and then the April 2013 storm. In 2010, he said his home took in water through an attached garage as well as up through a stand pipe in the basement. Beedon said his minivan was "totaled" by the water that flooded his garage. In 2013, only about a half-inch pooled inside his garage door.

Beedon described both passive and active measures he's taken to flood proof his home. The benefits of passive measures like raised sidewalks, Beedon said, are they don't require intervention to set up during a storm, they're usually invisible and there isn't a need to store devices used only during a storm.

"However, passive solutions are more expensive than active," Beedon said.

Beedon also described active measures he's taken to flood proof his home during heavy rains. He's built his own garage door dam with plywood, foam and bolts to keep water from flooding his garage, but it weighs about 50 pounds and needs to be stored. He uses a similar homemade device on the door from his garage to his home.

Other options he's explored are installing flood windows for basements, flood doors that would take the place of his homemade door dam and work even if he's not home when it starts to rain. Lastly, he's found flood-proofing systems that line the outside of homes to prevent water from entering a home over the foundation.

"I think the goal for this could be to provide immediate and affordable solutions to citizens until long-term solutions can be implemented," Beedon said.

Another resident, Joe Gornick, who lives on Geneva Avenue, worried the committee and council haven't made enough headway on stormwater solutions since the 2010 floods.

"This is really four years into this, and I haven't seen a single actionable item that we can point to that shows that we're doing anything to prevent further problems," Gornick said.

Committee Chairman and 6th Ward Alderman Jim Kennedy highlighted some items on which the committee and council have made progress. He mentioned the Southwest Elmhurst Wet-Weather Control Facility, which is expected to reduce sanitary backups in 2,300 homes. The committee also is working on creating stormwater storage requirements for new construction homes.

"From a stormwater standpoint, I don't disagree with you," Kennedy said.

Kennedy did mention an intergovernmental group, which includes officials from the city, school board and park district, continues to meet and discuss the Burke report plan to create large open space stormwater detention in land owned by the parks and schools.

"The individual needs and desires of one entity, be it the schools or the parks, cannot be looked at in a vaccum when there's a situation that's being shared by so many different people," Kennedy said.

Diane Gutenkauf, committee member and 1st Ward alderman, appreciated the new option Beedon presented to the committee.

"I really think it's important that we consider a wide variety of solutions to this," Gutenkauf said.

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