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Resident raises concerns about safety, cost of Flossmoor viaduct project 

As the village moves onto the second phase of the Flossmoor Road Viaduct Improvements Project, concerns have been raised about the plans to create a detention basin behind Heather Hill Elementary School. 

Phase 2 of the project proposes moving stormwater from the viaduct at Sterling Avenue and Flossmoor Road to a local detention basin behind Heather Hill. The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District is being asked to relinquish adjoining property that has tennis courts.

The drainage structure would redirect the stormwater from the viaduct downstream away from downtown Flossmoor and would offer a protection plan against 10-year rain event for the viaduct. While the village aimed for a 100-year protection plan, it was not feasible due to cost and lack of land space. 

A rendering of the proposed detention basin east of Heather Hill School.
(Provided image)

Instead, the proposed system would follow the “good neighbor” policy, holding the water briefly before it’s discharged to the existing storm sewage system. In the event of a 10-year storm, the basin would not wholly eradicate flooding under the viaduct, but it would be passable for cars. A final decision has yet to be made on whether to include a fence along the detention basin or its height if implemented.

Flossmoor resident John Yast expressed his concerns regarding the Phase 2 of the project. He said the viaduct has become unpassable only a handful of times in the last two decades, with the September 2019 flash flood causing the most damage. 

The 2019 storm caused massive flooding, reaching the Civic Center on Sterling Avenue. As a result, the basement of Coldwell Banker, then located at the corner of Flossmoor Road and Sterling Avenue, was flooded and doors were ripped from their hinges. Several adjoining businesses also suffered serious water damager.

Yast commented on the funding for the project. According to Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers, in a presentation at the May 15 board meeting, the village has secured $1.7 million of the $7.8 million it would take to complete the project.

“What is the village prepared to spend assuming at least one of the funding sources dries up?” asked Yates. “Is the board prepared to put a cap on the village’s output?” 

Mayor Michelle Nelson confirmed that since May Illinois Sen. Napoleon B. Harris, D-Harvey, and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., secured an additional $1.5 million in funding for the project. She said the village now has secured $3.2 million towards the project.

Yast said this project affects everyone on his block, including the parents of the students at Heather Hill. He inquired about the dangers surrounding the potential detention basin and remarked that if it is dangerous, it belongs nowhere near a school and should be set back farther away from the street.

“If it’s not dangerous, there is no need for a fence,” Yast said. “A fence would only hinder the excellent educational opportunities.” 

Yast said he believes this proposal is a knee-jerk reaction to a one-time occurrence and that the village could find a better spot for the detention pond.  

Trustee Joni Bradley-Scott and Village Manager Bridget Wachtel followed up on Yast’s public comments and assured residents that more information regarding the proposal would be provided later. 

“While we’ve had a lot of public discussion on the project over the last three years, we plan to have an open house this fall to answer questions and present the project,” Wachtel said.
“Hopefully, engineering will be farther along at that point. That is the timeline at this point.” 

Wachtel encouraged residents to call the village, public works or her office directly with questions and concerns regarding the project. 

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