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In their life ...Scott Drabicki, Gurnee's village engineer

Why did you decide to become a civil engineer?

Drabicki: I was a very hands-on kid, and took a lot of my mom’s things apart and she never got them back. I like the civil aspect of engineering. I’d rather build a bridge than a cellphone.

Carpender: How often do you interact with the community?

Drabicki: If we do our jobs right, civil engineers don’t make the paper. We’re unsung heroes. The most the public sees us is when we present the capital budget to the trustees each year.

Carpender: What did you think about the turnout to the town hall roads meetings last week?

Drabicki: It was very positive. No one knew quite what to expect. Thirty community members showed up and it was an honest, civil discussion. People asked good questions and shared concerns.

Carpender: What did you consider when working out a plan for Gurnee’s roads?

Drabicki: The material [the roads are made of] typically lasts 20 years in this climate. We have to consider what type of service we want to provide. Do we want smooth streets with minimal cracking? We’re at a point where we can lower the level of service or increase the amount we’re spending.

Carpender: Is there an area of Gurnee where the roads need the most work?

Drabicki: There’s no specific area – we have needs all across town. We do our best to be fair and equitable.

Carpender: What other responsibilities do you have?

Drabicki: We’re responsible for the storm sewers, the water main systems, planning everything with Public Works. There are 250 stormwater basins throughout the community that we inspect. 

Carpender: What would you do if your budget was limitless?

Drabicki: I’d like to see a multi-year Capital Improvement Plan, fully funded. There are sidewalk trip hazards, sanitary mains and water mains that need work. The village hall roof is 22 years old, and at some point we’ll have to take care of it. The Mother Rudd house is extremely old and needs work.

Carpender: What work does the Mother Rudd house need?

Drabicki: We have to balance the wants and needs of the historical society. It needs new windows. The old wooden windows are rotting away and we have to think about using real wood versus resins, plastics, etc. 

Carpender: What’s your role in a flood?

Drabicki: This past year I actually got my feet wet directing the resources of sandbags and coordinating people on the field. I learned that when the Navy comes in with volunteers, they get a lot of work done in a limited amount of time.

Gurnee’s volunteers make flood events work and set us apart from other communities.

Forty percent of what we do is drainage improvements. With a river that runs through town, there’s always the potential for flooding. Public works has all the tools and the toys, and we do the planning. Looking ahead right now, there’s a lot of snow on the ground and some liquid precipitation could cause some problems for us. We’ll keep an eye out if it starts raining.

Carpender: Is there anything you want residents to know?

Drabicki: Your basement should never flood. There are residents who say, “My basement floods every year.” That’s not normal. Call us and we might be able to help, whether it’s clearing your gutters or doing regrading around your home. It surprises me the things people live with for so long. Call us, we work for you.

For information, call 847-599-7500.

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