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Where do Elmhurst officials stand on stormwater issues?

City, park, school define positions on flood mitigation

Published: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:30 a.m. CST
Caption
Jim Kennedy (second from right), Public Works and Buildings Committee chairman and Sixth Ward alderman, explains to the Elmhurst City Council what the committee plans to do next about stormwater mitigation. (Mari Grigaliunas - mgrigaliunas@shawmedia.com)

ELMHURST – This week marked the four-year anniversary of the July 2010 storm that flooded hundreds of Elmhurst homes, and groups of residents continue to ask city officials what's being done to curb stormwater issues.

Following the 2010 flooding, which occurred following heavy rainfall in June and July, the city hired Christopher B. Burke Engineering. In April 2012, about a year before another severe storm flooded Elmhurst, Burke presented the city with a report identifying nine sites owned by the park district or School District 205 that could be used temporarily to store stormwater during severe rains.

Representatives from each of the governmental bodies came together Monday for a meeting. Here's where the three groups stand:

CITY

Where they stand: Mayor Steve Morley told the City Council on Monday that the city has been working on an intergovernmental agreement with the park district, and the school district representatives have indicated they want to start putting an agreement together as well.

The Public Works and Buildings Committee plans to develop a report for the council that describes what level of protection the city will aim to provide in terms of storm years. For example, the April 2013 storm was considered a 100-year storm, meaning it had a one out of 100, or 1 percent, chance of occurring in Elmhurst in that year.

The report will also include a priority list of project sites based on cost as well as the number of homes that each project is expected to help.

Jim Kennedy, committee chairman and Sixth Ward alderman, said during Monday's City Council meeting they would be looking at roughly a seven-year time frame for all of the sites.

City representatives: Jim Kennedy, Dannee Polomsky

PARK

Priority project site: York Commons

Where they stand: Elmhurst Park District Executive Director Jim Rogers said the city indicated that York Commons is their first priority of the park properties identified because it has the potential to benefit the most residents.

The park board hired its own engineering consultant, V3 Companies, to review the conceptual plans, and remains focused on the engineering.

Rogers said the board wants to meet stormwater needs while ensuring the detention sites will retain their recreational function as well as not adversely impact park neighbors.

Morley said during Monday's City Council meeting that one park board representative asked to bring the project to vote in front of the park board, but Rogers said the board doesn't have any plans to vote yet.

Park board representatives: Vince Spaeth, Bob Howard

SCHOOL

Priority project site: Madison Early Childhood Education Center

Where they stand: The District 205 Board of Education has stipulated any intergovernmental agreement would need to include three guarantees from the city. First, the district wants to be compensated if its properties are unusable for more than a specified number of days out of the year; second, it wouldn't be held liable for anything related to stormwater detention on the property; and, finally, the district would remain the property owner.

During a special board of education meeting Tuesday, the board also discussed the possibility of a three-tier agreement triggered by the school district's needs.

In the short term, the Madison site could be used for stormwater detention as presented in conceptual drawings. In the future, however, the district may need to expand its fastest growing school, and the detention would need to change to accommodate that. Eventually, when Madison needs to be rebuilt, the students – who come from throughout the entire district – could benefit from a more central location. At the same time, the city and its residents could benefit from using the entire four-acre Madison property for stormwater detention.

District 205 representatives: John McDonough, Shannon Ebner

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Next meeting

Representatives from all three groups plan to meet again Aug. 4.

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Number to know

9: Sites owned by the park district or School District 205 that could be used temporarily to store stormwater during severe rains. Here are the sites:

Bryan Middle School (2 sites)

East End Park

• Golden Meadows Park

• Jackson School

• Madison School

• Pioneer Park

• Wild Meadows Trace

• York Commons Park

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