Flooding frustration

  • Written by Kelly White

Hickory Hills to reconsider 1999 plan

designed to alleviate storm water woes

The concerns of two Hickory Hills residents adversely affected by the immense summer storms have led Mayor Mike Howley to call for reconsideration of a 1999 plan designed to alleviate flooding.
The residents, who live on 89th Street between 85th Court an 85th Avenue, appeared at last Thursday’s Hickory Hills City Council and told aldermen that recent storms have led to significant flooding in their backyards.
“The last major storm we’ve had was like a river going through my backyard,” said Jerry Roberts, who lives in the 8900 block of 85th Avenue. “One of my neighbors finished basement has flooded twice already this summer.”
Ken Blackman, who also lives on 85th Avenue, said he has experienced flooding problems for decades and described it as a “major catastrophe.”
“This has been an ongoing issue for 30-plus years,” Blackman told aldermen. “We can’t even do any landscaping in our backyards because of the flooding that accumulates during major storms.”
Blackman said the problem began several years ago when St. Patricia’s Church, 9000 S. 86th Ave, installed an asphalt extension to its parking lot.
The residents who live in the city’s flood zone flood have experienced three backyard flooding incidents this summer, they said.
“During larger rain storms, sewer caps are blowing off and there are floods in my backyard resembling rapids with dirty white and gray water,” Blackman said.
The water that accumulates in backyards between 85th Court and 85th Avenue flows from south of 95th Street and empties through a concrete channel that runs through a side yard at the corner of 85th Court and 91st Street, city engineer Tom Lang said.
The 1999 proposal called for the installation of reinforced concrete storm sewers along 85th Avenue, but cost prevented the plan form proceeding, said city engineer Tom Lang.
“This issue goes back to 1999 with a project costing half a million dollars at the time, and it was never built, “ Lang said. “I don’t know what construction cost index since then. I would bet another fifty percent, but that’s just a guess.”
Howley recalled cost being a major factor when the plan was brought forth 15 years ago.
“There were big costs involved when we looked at this before,” Howley said. “I’m not sure of the exact reason, but I’m presuming we backed out because of the number of houses affected versus the cost.”
Howley said the city must examine both the cost of the plan and benefits to the community.
“We have to look at the bigger picture,” the mayor said. “How will it improve the neighborhood? However, if the cost-benefit analysis does not factor out, we may need to look at alternative means of improving the situation for our residents that are affected.”
There might be other options to help fund the project, Lang said, including Cook County Disaster Funding.
“I have no idea what the chances are to getting any of that money, but there are some options out there,” City Engineer Tom Lang said.