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Flossmoor considers new approach to drainage projects

Flossmoor Public Works Director John Brunke presented for board discussion at the Sept. 12 meeting a proposal to improve the process used by the village to prioritize stormwater drainage problems, and he got enthusiastic support for the idea from trustees.

The program would use two main criteria for a drainage problem to be considered for village assistance. Standing water must remain in the problem area for more than 48 hours after the end of the rain event or the flood waters impact a habitable structure or roadway.

The drainage problem can’t be solved by conventional methods, such as regrading portions of the yard to provide positive pitch or removing objects that are blocking the flow of storm water.

If a problem fits the criteria, staff would rate the situation using a scoring system. For example, flooding that threatens habitable structures would get 30 points, but nuisance standing water in a yard would get 5 points.

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The scoring system also would take into account whether the flooding creates a public safety hazard, whether addressing it involves utility relocations, permits or intergovernmental agreements and how many properties are affected.

Funding availability is also a factor. Brunke said a small project might be done before a big one because funding is available from village funds whereas a large project might require external funding that takes longer to obtain.

He used the viaduct flooding mitigation project as an example of one that is a high priority but is taking a long time to complete because of its funding requirements. He also used the viaduct as an example of a project that doesn’t get the highest possible score but is top priority because flooding there can impact the whole village.

The viaduct project got 95 out of 100. It was docked 5 points because it requires intergovernmental agreements. Another project scored 100, but its impact is much smaller in scope, he said.

Brunke noted that in cases where a drainage problem does not qualify for village assistance, the public works staff would offer residents guidance on how they could address the problem themselves.
Transparency is also a key part of the proposal, Brunke said.

“We thought there was a need to formalize our program and make it more documented, make it more transparent so we can show the residents how we address these problems,” he said.

He said the plan calls for an application form that would be available at village hall and on the village website.

Trustees praised the transparency of the program and the staff’s assistance to residents whose projects don’t qualify.

Trustee Joni Bradley-Scott said the program might not make everybody happy, but helping people understand how decisions are made would be helpful.

“Transparent is the name of the game,” she said. “When people don’t feel they are getting a fair shake and they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, they feel a certain kind of way.”

Trustee Rosalind Mustafa said she was glad to see the program would employ a clear rubric.

“It establishes criteria, scoring and a weight for each of the criteria. It will reduce or remove subjectivity. It will allow discussion,” she said.

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