Residents gather Saturday at Leavitt Park in Flossmoor to learn more about the proposed storm water detention basin near Heather Hill School. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
Local News

Heather Hill neighbors meet with Flossmoor mayor Saturday to discuss storm water storage options

Residents gather Saturday at Leavitt Park in Flossmoor to learn more about the proposed storm water detention basin near Heather Hill School. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
Residents gather Saturday at Leavitt Park in Flossmoor to learn more about the proposed storm water detention basin near Heather Hill School. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Heather Hill neighborhood residents Stephen and Donna Ramsey called an informal meeting at Leavitt Park on Saturday, May 4, so residents could learn more from Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson about the various options the village has available to mitigate flooding problems.

The village board voted 4 to 3 on April 15 to purchase land from the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District to create a storm water detention basin near Heather Hill School. Nelson announced last week that she was concerned about the split on the board for such a large project and put the process on hold until the board can discuss the matter further.

The issue is up for discussion at the board’s regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 6.

On the table are three options: 

  • Proceed with the project that is already approved.
  • Consider two alternatives that would fully or partially store water underground at the Heather Hill site but at a higher cost.
  • Abandon the project and attempt to redirect grant money to other village projects.

Stephen Ramsey, who is a member of the village’s Community Relations Commission, said some people in the neighborhood still have questions and don’t feel they are fully informed about the project.

“We didn’t know enough about why we need this basin and why certain residents are opposed to it,” he said. “We wanted to have an opportunity to gain clarity for both sides, and we wanted to do it in a respectful manner. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around.” 

About 15 to 20 people gathered near the gazebo at Leavitt Park, a site chosen because it is a few feet away from another storm water detention basin that could be used for comparison purposes. The Leavitt Park basin is a few feet shallower than the one proposed for Heather Hill and doesn’t have native plants or a fence.

Ramsey started the conversation with a question from a neighbor who wasn’t able to attend the meeting: What impact will the project have on taxes?

Nelson said she couldn’t address assertions from some opponents that property values will fall if the basin is built, but she said if the flooding problem is not addressed, damage to homes and businesses could reduce property values and consequently increase the tax share property owners pay.

Part of the current project will be paid for with some of the proceeds from a $10 million bond voters approved in 2021. The rest will be paid for with nearly $4 million in grants. 

Nelson said another bond could be used to pay for the additional costs of the underground storage alternatives, but that would require seeking approval from voters and would delay the project another year, putting current grant funding at some risk.

Two residents noted that the strongest opposition to the project is based on fears the basin will be a danger to children. They asked about options that wouldn’t store storm water near the school at all.

Nelson reviewed several options the village has studied, including underground storage in Flossmoor Park or the south commuter parking lot. Both would relieve downtown flooding at the viaduct, but would be more expensive and would not improve drainage in the Berry Lane neighborhood.

Another option would have been to take water across part of Flossmoor Golf Club and empty it into Butterfield Creek, but Nelson said she has talked with the club owner a number of times, including last week, and they are not willing to participate in the project. 

Donna Ramsey said the meeting went well. 

“I thought it was very informative, answered some questions and brought up some questions I didn’t even know I had,” she said.

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Name
Most read stories this week