River Forest will conduct public meetings over the next two weeks to familiarize residents with the ins and outs of a massive village infrastructure project slated to start this spring.

The sessions are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17 at the River Forest Village Hall, 400 Park Ave., and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 in the auditorium at Willard School, 1250 Ashland Ave.

Village officials, project engineers and contractors will present information about the Northside Stormwater Management Project and answer questions. Each meeting will cover the same material, Village Administrator Eric Palm said.

The project is the culmination of years of evaluation and discussion on how to deal with flooding on the north side of the village. By separating the sewer system, the existing combined sewer system will be converted to a sanitary-only sewer system.

Meanwhile, village will then construct a new “mainline” storm sewer down Greenfield, starting at the Des Plaines River at Thatcher and working east towards Harlem Avenue.

Then “lateral” storm sewers will be installed on streets south of Greenfield, and tie into the mainline storm sewer. Undertaking this enterprise — the largest public works project in River Forest history — has been a high priority of the village board. The project is expected to cost $13.7 million and funded through a loan from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The sessions are part of an overall strategy to inform residents in the project area about what will be taking place. Letters about the basics, the meetings and other information already have been sent to homes in the area bounded by Greenfield on the north to Division on the south, Harlem on the east and Thatcher on the west. 

Once a state loan to pay for the project is released, other aspects of the informational campaign will commence. Phone numbers for the onsite office will be available, and a website dedicated to the project will go live, Palm said.

In addition, residents will be encouraged to sign up for personal notification through the email system Blackboard Connect. Residents living in the section of town from Greenfield on the north, Division on the south, Harlem on the east and Thatcher on the west will receive messages germane to the entire area. Personalized emails also will be sent out block by block, alerting residents when water will be turned off, when streets will be torn up and other area-specific activity.

“We are fully aware that this project will impact people’s lives. We’ll coordinate that as best we can so we can dovetail lives with the construction. We’ll balance all those items,” Palm said.

This effort has been on the village’s radar screen for years. Trustees in January awarded contracts totaling $13.714 million to do the construction and provide oversight for principal work on the project. Construction is expected to start in April with a majority of the work completed by November.

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