Watershed meeting leaves residents dissatisfied

Many concerned citizens came to the Forest Park/Berry and Central Arlington Heights watershed meeting expecting answers, and left disappointed.

The Storm Water Management program announced that they still do not have a solution for flooding in these two areas, and did not expect to present a workable solution until April.

Juliett George, 57, said she hoped to finally see a solution to the flooding problem, but instead was faced with officials who plan to have a proposal for a solution more than six months from now.

“I was very disappointed that we did not get down to… the nitty gritty, and that’s exactly why I came,” George said.

Andrew Yanez, 43, said he attended the meeting because he wanted to know when he might expect to see some construction. He said the rental property he owns floods twice a year.

City officials including Simmons and City Councilman Carter Burdette of District 7 said the flooding problem arose after the system was built in the 1920s and 1930s.

Each of them said the current system has been overtaxed by increased rainwater runoff from the growth of the city.

Robert Snoke, president of the Rosemont Neighborhood Association, suggested that the drains might work if the city regularly maintained them.

“We can build these drains until the cows come home, but if the city don’t maintain them, it don’t mean very much,” Snoke said.

Snoke brought around a dozen photos of poorly maintained drains to the meeting to share with other residents.

Yanez, Snoke, George and Fulton reflected the general mood of the residents present at the meeting. They’ve dealt with flooding for years and they said want a solution that will protect their homes.

Greg Simmons, Storm Water manager, said his team has been looking at this issue for four years, but still has not found a solution that would be both cost-effective and minimally invasive for residents.

Simmons also said his team hopes to find a solution that could be divided into phases. The so-called phaseable solution would allow Storm Water Management to break up a project into more easily digested parts.

Officials said they would continue to consider every option.

Most of the residents wanted answers, but the city told them they didn’t have them. Yet.