Newly released engineering plans for a proposed floodwall along the Des Plaines River in Riverside provide a clearer picture of the wall’s proposed alignment and how it might impact residential properties along West Avenue. | PROVIDED

Newly disclosed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ engineering drawings of the alignment of a proposed floodwall along the east bank of the Des Plaines River south of Forest Avenue indicate some measure of its impact on West Avenue property owners who now enjoy unobstructed access to the riverbank.

In at least one instance, the floodwall’s proposed alignment appears to imperil a residence, a portion of which appears to sit within a required 15-foot easement on either side of the floodwall.

A family member representing the owner of the property at 8 West Ave. told Riverside trustees at their meeting on March 16 that the family opposed the floodwall’s construction.

According to David Bartel, the property is not in a flood zone and has never flooded in the more than 30 years its owner has lived there. The property includes a main residence at the front and another, small residence at the rear.

That smaller rear building, at 8½ West Ave., has been a residence since at least December 1989, when the owners used it as an in-law apartment, according to a 1990 article published in the Riverside Landmark.

The rear wall of 8½ West Ave. would appear to fall within the floodwall easement. The alignment of the floodwall would also require the removal of a shed on the owner’s property and a covered deck that predates the present owner that sits astride the riverbank.

The wall alignment also would appear to require the removal of a shed and deck on the property to the north at 14 West Ave. and a section of parking lot behind 22 West Ave.

Many trees, including several mature trees, particularly in and around 8 West Ave., would also need to be removed from either side of the floodwall easement.

“The wall that is projected to be built would destroy access to the river, destroy a covered deck that the owners enjoy and their extended family, a shed, and could potentially, depending on exactly where it’s placed, could potentially actually be within 15 feet of the house  at the back of 8 West Ave., therefore mandating its removal,” Bartel told Riverside trustees.

“It would also destroy quite a number of trees on the property,” he added. “It would obviously affect the property value of 8 West Avenue.”

Bartel said that while he was aware of a previous proposed floodwall alignment, which stretched from east to west further from the buildings and tied directly into the railroad embankment, the new alignment came as a surprise.

That plan was revealed during a March 2 presentation by the new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers team assigned to the Riverside project. Not part of the Army Corps’ formal presentation, the “back up slides,” as they were labeled on a PowerPoint file, were shown in response to Trustee Edward Hannon’s request for more information.

The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark filed a public records request following the March 2 meeting with both the village and the Army Corps to obtain the back-up slides. The village provided the document on March 10.

“I just got the map [showing the latest alignment] a week after the [March 2] meeting,” Bartel told the Landmark during an interview at 8 West Ave. on March 17.

To clarify the exact proposed floodwall alignment an Army Corps of Engineers surveyor is slated to physically mark the alignment and note the height of the floodwall on April 4. The floodwall alignment could still change, Army Corps and village officials have noted.

While Bartel acknowledged that properties at lower elevations to the north of 8 West Ave. as well as West Avenue itself are impacted by flooding, the proposed alignment of the floodwall will particularly impact the owners of 8 West Ave.

In addition to the north-south section of the floodwall running through the backyard,  the floodwall bends south, apparently well within the private property line, in order to tie into high ground.

“The new configuration of the wall really takes out at least a quarter of the property and, really, the beauty of the property,” Bartel said. “I can’t see how it doesn’t affect the house. All the trees on the west side of the wall, all that is gone. Some of these are oaks, quite a few hornbeams, spruces.”

The potential loss of the rear residence is a particular concern.

“Somehow it hasn’t shown up on the Corps of Engineers’ stuff and has been transmitted to the village that there’s a house back here,” Bartel said. “I’m not sure what they think this is.”