Eric Palm, River Forest village administrator

River Forest officials took the first step toward a storm water master plan for the village at the Aug. 10 virtual village board meeting.

The village board authorized staff members to create a request for qualifications/request for proposals (RFQ/RFP) for qualified storm water engineering firms to provide submittals for the creation of a storm water master plan. John Anderson, director of public works, estimated it will take 2-3 months to create the RFQ/RFP, which will be presented to the village board for approval. He estimates it will take an engineering firm approximately 12 months to complete the master plan at a cost between $140,000 and $180,000.

Elected officials expressed concerns about the cost and whether solutions for current problems would be placed on hold while the master plan was created but agreed a comprehensive approach is needed.

“We all know we have an undersized sewer system,” Village Administrator Eric Palm said, adding that the problem continued even after the installation of relief sewers in the 1980s and the completion of the first phase of the Northside Storm Water Management Project in 2015.

Anderson concurred, noting that the village’s combined system is over 100 years old and “not designed to modern day best practices.”

Village officials also have received continued complaints from residents about flooded streets, basements and backyards, most recently in May regarding chronic street flooding on the 1100 block of Keystone Avenue. Although flooding of Keystone and the backyards of approximately 25 residences on the block has been ongoing for years, the flooding was seen for an extended period of time following the historic rainfalls of near 8 inches of rain in four days in mid-May. Keystone was reportedly still flooded the morning following the final deluge.

And it’s getting worse, according to Anderson, who said that “extreme rain events appear to be occurring more regularly and with higher intensities.”

Palm agreed, noting that village officials are receiving more calls about flooding from citizens who are longtime residents of the village who have never seen such problems before.

Trustees Tom Cargie and Patty Henek questioned the cost, considering village officials have already identified areas that need to be addressed.

“It feels like we’ve got a lot of pieces in place already,” Henek said. “I agree we need a plan but the plan needs to address all the issues.”

Anderson explained that the master plan will not only identify areas that need to be addressed but also recommend a comprehensive plan that would be incorporated into the village capital improvement plan.

“The overall purpose of a storm water master plan is to identify projects, programs and initiatives that will reduce flooding conditions within the village by the most cost-effective means and at the appropriate level of protection,” he said. “By addressing and prioritizing all potential projects and programs related to storm water through a master plan, the village will be able to pursue items in a more comprehensive manner.”

Jeff Loster, village engineer, compared the storm water master plan to the comprehensive parking study that the village board adopted in May, which addressed parking issues that village officials had been dealing with on a piecemeal basis previously.

Trustee Katie Brennan said she agreed with creating a comprehensive plan and suggested that the village consider contacting the Center for Neighborhood Technologies. She also recommended that village officials look at how much surface property owners are allowed to cover with non-permeable material such as concrete or asphalt.

Village President Cathy Adduci supported the creation of the master plan.

“We need a comprehensive look,” she said. “Police, fire and infrastructure — this is what we do. We owe it to our residents.” 

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