While flooding has been a periodic problem in Brookfield over the decades, the April 2013 flood was a kind of last straw. Particularly in the 3500 and 3600 blocks of Forest Avenue and the area near the intersection of Washington and Prairie, residents had been repeatedly deluged.
Since 2008, there had been multiple property-damaging floods and by 2013, the village of Brookfield started to approach solutions systematically. The village has overhauled its storm water ordinance which, though it sometimes draws complaints from those having to comply with them, is there to mitigate a real problem.
The village in 2013 also rolled out its downspout disconnection policy, later codified into law, and began what can only be described as a generous plan to split the cost of installing flood control systems at private residences.
Since 2013, Brookfield has spent close to a half million dollars towards these private projects and has even had its engineer consult with some neighbors in Hollywood to investigate possible solutions to widespread backyard flooding.
The centerpiece to flood control in the Forest/Washington/Prairie area, however, is a pump station and storm water reservoir project that’s been on the drawing board for two years.
Brookfield officials have promised residents that it’s on the way, but for nearly 24 months, there was no proof that it was actually going to happen.
But last month the village finally inked an intergovernmental agreement with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) to get the pump station built. A $2 million project, the MWRD has agreed to pay a little less than half the construction costs, no small figure.
Work will begin on the plan in the spring. While it’s guaranteed to tie things up and cause some inconvenience, the final product ought to be able to prevent the kind of street and property flooding that comes with heavy rainfalls in that area.
Our only disappointment is that the village was unable to secure more than one property on Forest Avenue for its above-ground storm water detention facility. While the facility will pretty much look like a grass-covered lot, the above-ground reservoir is going to be about 7- or 8-feet deep at its deepest point and will slope pretty sharply.
As a result, the lot is going to be fenced off with a barrier that’s probably going to be 6- or 7-feet tall. And what we’re afraid of is that in the midst of a residential block there’s going to be an ugly, fenced-off hole in the ground.
So, whatever the village can do to make that above-ground facility as appealing visually as possible will, we’re sure, be much appreciated by its neighbors and assuage any worries about their property values, which have probably already suffered due to the prior flooding.
All things considered, however, this water pumping should be a boon to that neighborhood. The village also deserves credit for successfully courting the MWRD as a partner on this otherwise unaffordable public works project.