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City wants parks, schools to commit to stormwater projects

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 9:53 a.m. CST
Caption
(Erica Benson - ebenson@shawmedia.com)
Washington Street residents, including Tracy Fleischer, encourage members of City Council to move forward with their proposed stormwater projects. (Erica Benson - ebenson@shawmedia.com)
Caption
(Erica Benson - ebenson@shawmedia.com)
Elmhurst alderman Jim Kennedy discusses his proposed stormwater solutions, which include detention ponds at area park districts and schools in his Sixth Ward during Monday's City Council meeting. (Erica Benson - ebenson@shawmedia.com)
Caption
(Erica Benson - ebenson@shawmedia.com)
Cayuga Avenue residents, including Eileen Kennedy, ask members of the Elmhurst City Council to devise better solutions for its proposed stormwater mitigation projects. (Erica Benson - ebenson@shawmedia.com)

ELMHURST – City officials will formally ask for the park district and School District 205 to commit to four stormwater mitigation pilot projects targeted for completion in 2015 after the City Council approved an action plan Monday.

"I think we owe it to our community, and to the community that will come after us, to move forward with these projects," said Third Ward alderman Dannee Polomsky, who is also a city representative during intergovernmental meetings about the stormwater projects.

The action plan identifies four priority projects, but the city will ask the park district and District 205 to agree to the projects before moving forward.

Several residents thanked the city for moving forward with the temporary detention projects identified by Christopher B. Burke Engineering, while thunder clapped and lightning flashed outside City Hall on Monday.

"It has been extremely difficult to wait and continue flooding year after year ... while we're waiting for the city to move forward with plans to mitigate stormwater," said Washington Street resident Tracy Fleischer during the public comment section of Monday's meeting.

Fleischer submitted a petition with more than 500 signatures to the city calling for action on stormwater mitigation efforts, and asked the council to approve the action plan.

Nearly as many residents opposed the open land projects, specifically York Commons.

"I would ask that you don't vote to put a [detention] pond behind over 20 homes," Cayuga Avenue resident Eileen Kennedy said.

While her home does not back up to York Commons because it is on the other side of Cayuga, she expressed concerns that the proposed temporary stormwater detention would create a safety hazard for children. She also worried Cayuga may get more water if the detention pond overflowed.

Eileen Kennedy said she and her neighbors submitted a petition of 50 signatures asking the city to look at other alternatives that address existing flooding on Cayuga Avenue and ensures their homes wouldn't be negatively impacted.

"We're not going to take a problem from Crescent and put it over on Cayuga," Seventh Ward alderman Patrick Wagner said.

Sixth Ward alderman Jim Kennedy agreed.

Kennedy serves as both a chairman of the Public Works and Buildings Committee, which submitted the action plan to the council, and as a city representative during intergovernmental meetings about the projects. He explained the city will require that improving one neighborhood's flooding problem does not move it to another. He also mentioned the projects are intended to improve the fields they will involve.

Third Ward alderman Michael Bram was the only member of the Public Works and Buildings Committee to not sign the report recommending the action plan.

"My philosophy was that the ... four No. 1 priorities should be the four No. 1 priorities no matter what governmental body we would be teaming up with," Bram said.

He pointed out, as an example, that the project proposed at Madison Early Education Center is estimated to cost $208,000 per home. The project, which would prevent flooding during a 100-year flood event, is predicted to protect 12 homes.

"There are projects that help the same, if not more, for the cheaper cost per home," Bram said.

For comparison, Bram mentioned the proposed project at East End Park, another park district property, which is expected to protect 15 homes on Geneva Avenue at a cost of $126,000 per home.

Ultimately, Bram said he wanted to move forward, even though he would have liked to see an additional park project replace one of the school projects for the sake of fiscal responsibility.

"it isn't just the cost per home that helped us decide which four projects we were going to identify as a city," said First Ward alderman Diane Gutenkauf, who is also a Public Works and Buildings Committee member.

She explained that the committee also considered input from the other government bodies about which projects were most feasible for them.

"This is the right first step to do this," Sixth Ward alderman Michael Honquest said.

– – – –

How they voted

Ayes: Diane Gutenkauf, Marti Deuter, Bob Dunn, Norman Leader, Dannee Polomsky, Michael Bram, Scott Levin, Chris Healy, Michael Honquest, Jim Kennedy, Mark Mulliner and Patrick Wagner

Nays: None

Absent: Stephen Hipskind and Kevin York

– – – –

Priority stormwater pilot projects

Elmhurst City Council identified the following four projects as priorities for stormwater mitigation:

York Commons

Homes protected: 51

Estimated cost per home: $63,000

Estimated total cost: $3.21 million

Bryan Middle School ball fields

Homes protected: 61

Estimated cost per home: $45,000

Estimated total cost: $2.73 million

Golden Meadows Park

Homes protected: 30

Estimated cost per home: $113,000

Estimated total cost: $3.39 million

Madison Early Childhood Education Center

Homes protected: 12

Estimated cost per home: $208,000

Estimated total cost: $2.5 million

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