While serious digging isn’t expected to begin until sometime this week at the earliest, prep work in advance of a major flood-control project slated for the 3500 block of Forest Avenue in Brookfield began in late August with the removal of all of the trees remaining on the west side of Forest Avenue.

More than a half dozen trees, all but one healthy, were removed from the west parkway to accommodate the installation of a new sanitary sewer line there. According to Brookfield Village Engineer Derek Treichel, the sewer line is being relocated to the parkway from the middle of Forest Avenue, where it presently is located.

The loss of the trees was tough for some residents. Though they understood the reason for their removal, it was sad.

For Carolyn and Nate Morriss, whose corner home is surrounded by well-tended gardens, it meant the loss of a beautiful flowering tree on the parkway. 

“People have stopped and say every year, ‘Can we take a picture of your tree?'” Carolyn Morriss said. 

Now, they’ll lose the visits in the fall from finches that would fly in to feed on the thistle left by the dead cone flowers planted at the tree’s base.

Prior to the tree’s removal, in a sort of plea for a reprieve, the Morrisses taped a makeshift sign on the tree, a plea to “call village before cutting down.”

“There’s really nothing we can do about it, I guess,” she said when asked about the sign. “I was kind of mad.”

Treichel said that there is a plan to replace lost trees on the west parkway, though Morriss has her doubts about their viability with a sewer line and a trench filled with stone backfill not too far under the topsoil.

“Even if they do replace all of trees, they’ll die anyway,” Morriss said.

The sewer line is being moved to allow for the construction of a 7-by-8-by-300-foot concrete box culvert under the roadway that will extend from roughly Washington Avenue to 3526 Forest Ave., where it will connect with an above-ground storm water detention facility.

The box culvert will be able to store 120,000 gallons of water, while the 65-by-105-foot above ground water detention facility can hold another 150,000 gallons of water. The above- and below-ground water storage areas are part of a $2 million flood-control project, being funded in part by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

The area has suffered from severe flooding on at least three occasions due to heavy rains, but the new system is also expected to help mitigate basement flooding during rain events that presently still overwhelm the existing storm sewer system. 

Water will be pumped from the system and new storm water storage areas via a pump station that will be built north of Washington Avenue on the west side of Salt Creek.

Workers from Nicor, the natural gas company, have been in the area in recent weeks relocating gas service to accommodate the new flood-control project. The relocation of the sanitary sewer, which Treichel said would begin this week, is the first major bit of earth moving on Forest Avenue.

Once that work begins, Treichel said he’d have an updated construction schedule for other parts of the project.