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Aerial view of the project area. 
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(Provided image)

Flossmoor Village Board members Tuesday gave the green light to a flood control project along Cherry Creek at Homewood-Flossmoor High School and north along Governors Highway.

Board members unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement between the village, H-F School District 233 and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) that spells out how the Cherry Creek project will be accomplished and which agencies are responsible for maintenance once it’s completed.

According to the agreement, MWRD is responsible for the construction phase of the project, and will pay nearly all its costs. The village and high school district will eventually own portions of the Cherry Creek floodplain and are to be responsible for maintaining those areas when the work is done. Justin Kirk, a senior civil engineer at MWRD, said the project is expected to cost $4.1 million.

Construction is likely to start this summer and is expected to take about one year, Kirk said. MWRD still needs to purchase 3.08 acres of land from Calvary Assembly of God Church, located along Governors Highway just north of the high school.

MWRD plans to build a retention pond on what is now the church property. Village board members voted Tuesday to rezone the four current church lots at that location from residential use to public use.

Village officials said the existing church structures and parking lots will not be affected by the Cherry Creek project.

Flooding from Cherry Creek has been a problem for years, especially at Imperial Court and Embassy Row – located on the west side of Governors Highway – and Braemar Road, on the east side. Currently, 16 homes in that area are located on a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain map. As a result, those homeowners are required to buy flood insurance, which can be very costly.

Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said recently that Flossmoor officials insisted that a change in status on the federal floodplain map was a necessary part of the Cherry Creek project.

Mayor Paul Braun Tuesday asked Kirk how long it would take for those 16 homes to be removed from the floodplain map after the project is completed. Kirk said MWRD will ask federal authorities for that change as soon as the work along Cherry Creek is finished.

Cherry Creek flooding at the high school and along Governors Highway is largely due to a “choke point” in an underground culvert between the H-F Bio Pond and the highway, Flossmoor Public Works Director John Brunke said earlier this month. Between the pond and highway, the creek is diverted into a pipe that is 18 to 24 inches in diameter.

During the project, a 48-inch pipe will be installed for 940 feet between the pond and highway. Culverts will also be re-built along Governors Highway and the retention pond will be constructed.

Wachtel said the Cherry Creek project has been in the works for the last three years. It was originally one of about 50 possible Chicago-area flood control projects proposed by MWRD in 2012.

Kirk told the village board that MWRD decided to proceed with the Cherry Creek project because it had such a favorable benefit-to-cost ratio.

H-F school board members approved the intergovernmental agreement at the Nov. 17 meeting. 

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