Persistence pays off for Graue Mill homeowners

Government officials met in Hinsdale with Salt Creek as a backdrop June 5 to announce the state has approved a $626,000 grant that will allow a flood control project for the Graue Mill subdivision to go forward, and to praise the homeowners for making it happen.

The creek looks very tranquil and calm today, said Peter Schroth, president of the Graue Mill Homeowners Association, “but those of us who lived here in 2010 and 2013 know how vicious this little creek can get.”

Homeowners hired Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. and started working on a flood control plan after heavy rains caused Salt Creek to overflow its banks in July 2010 and cause more than $5 million in damages to the 243-unit development, known as Graue Mill Country Residences, as well as to other homes and businesses in the area.

The damage was more extensive after storms in April 2013, when village employees evacuated residents in dump trucks and boats, and the complex was without electricity for days.

The flooding prevention plan was revised with higher levies and berms, which raised the project’s cost to $3.4 million.

The $626,438 grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, combined with a $2.57 million grant already obtained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, would leave about $200,000 for the homeowners to pay, with some assistance from the village of Hinsdale.

Elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Michael Quigley, D-5th of Chicago, state Rep. Patti Bellock, R-47th of Hinsdale, and DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin praised the residents, such as Schroth, Dayle Gillett and Larry Klinger, for bringing the problem to their attention, working on a solution and not letting the situation be forgotten.

They are “a model of an intelligent, diligent approach that involved all stakeholders,” Cronin said. “I’ve been so impressed with your professionalism and commitment.

“You cannot imagine how a small group of people really is making a change and (will) get this done,” Bellock said.

The secret was “perseverance and being not willing to take ‘no’ for an answer,” said Klinger, who until recently was chairman of the homeowners Long Term Commission.

Hinsdale Village Trustee Laura LaPlaca said now that federal and state funding has been confirmed, village officials in July will decide how much money the village will contribute for the work.

The preliminary design is completed for the plan, which will include berms of from 6 inches to 4 feet high, high-capacity drains and excavation in Fullersburg Woods for greater stormwater detention.

Burke will next proceed with preparing final designs and obtaining permits for the work.

In July or August, ComEd is expected to replace and relocate the green boxes that hold its switching equipment in the subdivision. Currently, they are in low areas that flood, knocking out power to between 700 and 800 people, not only in the Graue Mill condominiums and townhouses, but also in the adjacent Hinsdale and Oak Brook area.

Construction on the berms and other measures will start in the fall.

Areas of Fullersburg Woods will be excavated, so during heavy rains, they will hold more stormwater until the level of the creek lowers, said Tony Charlton, director of DuPage County Stormwater Management. During other times, the area will be dry.

DuPage County Forest Preserve District Board member Joseph Cantore said many people don’t realize that stormwater and flood control are one of the most important things the forest preserve district does.

By providing more stormwater storage capacity in Fullersburg Woods, the berms in the Graue Mill subdivision will not cause greater flooding downstream, Cantore said.

The improvements will be installed in phases and will not be entirely completed until 2018.

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