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Winnetka stormwater project awaits nod from Forest Preserve

Sunday, June 08, 2014
Chicago Tribune
by Karen Ann Cullotta

Officials in Winnetka said this week that a recently completed project in the village's $41 million stormwater management program proved successful in preventing flooding during recent downpours.

But despite the progress in halting flooding in the northeast side of the village, some officials say they are frustrated that improvements to the northwest side of town, in particular, the $4.2 million Greenwood-Forest Glen project near Tower Road, still is awaiting approval from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

Steven Saunders, the village's director of public works, said this week that local residents contacted Larry Suffredin, Cook County board commissioner and Forest Preserve board commissioner for the 13th District, with concerns about the Greenwood-Forest Glen project.

With the construction to include a stormwater sewer that will discharge into a lagoon on forest preserve property, Saunders said Suffredin has requested more information about the project before the board will vote on the proposal at its June 17 meeting.

While Saunders did not take issue with concerned residents contacting Suffredin, Trustee Richard Kates said the commissioner already was well aware of the details of the project, and questioned why there was a need for further review.

"This is just the type of thing that can delay the project, when certain residents raise things they know better than to raise," Kates said. "It's not a matter of making everybody happy. People want to obstruct this, and that is what's occurring."

Resident Kim Knaus, who lives in the 900 block of Greenwood Avenue, told the village council this week that she supports the northwest Winnetka stormwater improvements, and said she is eager to see it go forward.

"It sounds like he is getting pressure from other folks," said Knaus, adding that she plans to contact Suffredin to encourage the Cook County Board to support the project.

In addition, Saunders said Winnetka officials anticipate a grant funding partner will provide a "substantial" cost share with the village for the Greenwood-Forest Glen project, and said the grant legislation is awaiting approval from Gov. Pat Quinn.

Meanwhile, Saunders said the village's new storm sewer outlet at Lloyd Park helped reduce the amount of stormwater flowing down Sheridan Road during heavy rains on May 13.

"We used to wind up with a lot of flooding in the area between Maple and Spruce streets, and after the downpours last month, the location near the new outlet was pretty dry," Saunders said.

While the Lloyd Park outlet project was estimated to cost the village roughly $398,000, Saunders said that construction costs came in under budget, at around $288,000.

A second stormwater management project at the Winnetka Avenue Pump Station at the southwest side of the village near the Skokie River is expected to be completed in late June, Saunders said.

The $1.1 million project will install new pumps that can handle an increased capacity of stormwater, he said.

Officials recently created a stormwater utility fee to pay for the village's stormwater management program, the centerpiece of which is the $34 million Willow Road tunnel.



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