The village of Brookfield is trying to head off a growing revolt among property owners in the 3500 block of Forest Avenue over a $2 million flood-control project slated to break ground this spring.

In addition to vocally protesting aspects of the project at the Brookfield Village Board’s Feb. 8 meeting, residents last week delivered to village hall a batch of letters from property owners and their children, protesting everything from how the proposed pump station and water storage areas would function to safety concerns to the perceived threats to their property values.

On Feb. 22, village officials responded by announcing a comprehensive overview of the project at the village board’s committee of the whole meeting on Monday, March 28.

The meeting will take place immediately following the regular village board meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m., in the council room of the Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.

According to Village President Kit Ketchmark, who addressed the neighborhood discontent with some prepared remarks during the Feb. 22 village board meeting, the March 28 presentation would include renderings that explain how the pump station would work and will give residents an idea of what the final product would look like.

While residents remember well the three instances since 2008 where heavy rains caused Salt Creek to overflow its banks, flooding Forest Avenue and other nearby streets, Ketchmark stated that there have been 35 other rain events during that same time where the proposed pump station would have been employed to pump water from the storm sewer system.

That number comes directly from the U.S. Geological Survey’s water elevation data for Salt Creek, which tracks the rise and fall of the river and pinpoints storm events. While the pump station won’t be able to prevent the creek from overflowing during the kinds of historic storm events the area experienced in 2008, 2010 and 2013, it will be able to mitigate street and subsequent basement flooding during events where the riverbank is not overtopped.

Key to the system’s operation are a pair of storm water detention areas — one underground and one above ground — from which water is ejected into Salt Creek via a pump that will be placed on the west side of the creek just north of Washington Avenue.

A 120,000-gallon underground storage vault will connect with the ejector pit and stretch south underneath Forest Avenue for about 300 feet. There it will connect to a 150,000-gallon above-ground storage facility on a vacant parcel of village-owned land at 3526 Forest Ave.

Ketchmark reiterated on Feb. 22 that the above-ground facility will not be a retention pond that releases water gradually. It is the final overflow for a system that will pump water out of the area as quickly as possible. 

“This is not an area that holds water for any period of time,” said Ketchmark. “If there is storm water that is filling up the above-ground overflow area, we are experiencing extremely heavy rainfall that would otherwise have long since flooded the streets and made its way to our homes.”

Residents have been most vocal about the above-ground storage facility, particularly how it will look. The village has stated that the facility, which will be grass that will slope to a depth of about eight feet in the center, will be surrounded by a 6- to 8-foot fence. While no drawings have yet been made available to residents, officials have indicated they have considered using a wrought iron fence like the one at Creekside Park. 

Officials have also said they could consider erecting traditional stockade-type fences on the north and south sides to shield view of the facility from the immediate neighbors. Renderings of how the above-ground facility will look will be available at the March 28 meeting.

Some residents have requested that the village consider making the facility at 3526 Forest Ave. an underground vault covered with grass. While the village has made no promises to do so, Village Engineer Derek Treichel on Feb. 22 told the Landmark that his firm is putting together figures on what such a plan might cost.

Informally, the cost of such a plan has been pegged at $250,000 or more. At that point, it would become a decision for the village board to determine just how much more taxpayer money it wants to devote to a flood-control project that will principally benefit a small area of the village.

The village is splitting the current cost of the project, roughly equally, with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. 

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