Excavating equipment removes the tennis court on Lawrence Crescent in preparation for digging a storm water detention basin with Heather Hill School playground in the foreground. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
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Flossmoor trustees approve two contracts for Heather Hill basin project

Flossmoor trustees approved two contracts to get the work started on the controversial project storm water detention basin near Heather Hill School.

Before the vote, trustees listened to residents who gave their opinions on the project.

The $3.4 million contract for construction of the basin went to Pan-Oceanic Engineering Co. The bid came in more than $140,000 under than the engineer’s estimate.

When completed, the basin will serve to temporarily store storm water from the downtown viaduct and Heather Hill neighborhood. It is expected to be dry about 99% of the time and is designed to drain in about nine hours after a heavy rain.

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Timing of the earth-moving part of the project is critical, according to Public Works Director John Brunke. The heavy machinery needs to be done with its work before school starts, so that part of the project has an Aug. 15 deadline.

In order to improve chances of making the deadline, the contract with Pan-Oceanic includes incentives for early completion. The contractor will receive an additional $35,000 if the project is completed by Aug. 8 and an additional $20,000 if it is done by Aug. 1. Total incentives would be $55,000 if both early targets are met.

The work not required under the deadline is site restoration, including seeding for cover plants.

Machines are on site and fencing has gone up around the construction area.

The approved contract was for a 6-foot fence around the basin to help keep children safe. The bid specifications had asked for 7- and 8-foot fence alternatives, which would have cost an additional $17,000 or $32,000 respectively. 

Brunke said staff consulted with District 161 officials and were informed the 6-foot fence height was preferred. 

District 161 Superintendent Dana Smith said in an email to the Chronicle that the district “had always worked from the perspective of the 6-foot fence, because it will provide safety and security, while not being so imposing in the neighborhood. We could have supported a higher fence if that was the prerogative of the village.”

The second contract approved by trustees was with Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers for construction engineering services. The firm did the design work on the project, so Brunke said it made sense for it to supervise construction, too. The contract is not to exceed $133,960.

Of the 10 residents who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, seven addressed the detention basin. Four of them supported the project and three were opposed.

Ashly Giddens expressed concerns about the fence height, noting that autistic children in the neighborhood might be able to scale it and fall into the basin. She also lamented the loss of greenspace around the school.

“The basin will take up the entire greenspace that is behind the playground and behind the school,” she said. “So now the children who live in the community and who attend Heather Hill Elementary School will no longer be able to run freely and safely.”

Pam Bartusiewicz said she, too, was concerned about safety but noted that flood waters are also dangerous. She said children have to be taught about many dangers they will face and can be taught to avoid water that is unsupervised. She implored the board to move forward with the project.

“For too long, the Flossmoor residents and downtown business owners have suffered because of an outdated and inadequate system,” she said. “The infrastructure must be upgraded.” 

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