Wednesday, April 24, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Bellwood Trustee M.C. Robinson, Bellwood Clerk Janel Moreland, MWRD President Kari Steele, Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey and Bellwood Trustees Michael J. Ciavattone and Ronald Nightengale during the groundbreaking for the Addison Creek Reservoir projects on Wednesday. | Shanel Romain
Officials with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, the village of Bellwood, Cook County and other government bodies and agencies gathered on April 24 for a groundbreaking ceremony on the site of the future Addison Creek Reservoir at 2795 Washington Blvd. in Bellwood.
Reclamation District officials said the $63.3 million, 600-acre-foot reservoir will be able to store close to 200 million gallons of water and connect with the Addison Creek Channel, which is scheduled to undergo a range of improvements as part of the upcoming construction.
A pumping station, spillway and control structure will be built on the site of the reservoir while the channel improvements include vegetation clearing, the removal of three bridges and the installation of soldier pile walls, among others.
Once work is finished, the Reclamation District will operate and maintain things like the spillway, piping and pump station while Bellwood will be responsibility for ground maintenance, including landscaping and fencing.
The reservoir construction and various Addison Creek Channel improvements “will provide flood control benefits for communities along Addison Creek, including Bellwood, Northlake, Stone Park, Melrose Park, Westchester and Broadview,” according to a statement Reclamation District officials released.
Government officials hold shovels during Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony in Bellwood. | Shanel Romain
The two projects are estimated to reduce flooding for around 2,200 structures and to remove an estimated 1,700 structures from the flood plain, officials said.
Colleen Callahan, the director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement that “Bellwood, Broadview, Melrose Park, Northlake, Stone Park and Westchester have a long history of flooding.”
Callahan added that more than “1,550 residents carry flood insurance policies and pay an average annual premium of nearly $1,266 per year.” She said that the projects will allow those residents to qualify for “flood insurance premiums which are up to 80 percent cheaper once their properties are removed from the floodplains.”
Officials said that the reservoir construction and channel improvements will provide $116 million in flood benefits to nearby property owners.
Construction on the reservoir is expected to be completed by early 2022 while channel improvements are expected to start in 2020.
“This is an exciting day for our community partners along Addison Creek searching for an answer to over-bank flooding,” Reclamation District President Kari K. Steele said.
“This is a monumental event not only for Bellwood but for all of the communities that it will benefit,” said Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey. “The improved quality of life for our residents is immeasurable.”
Harvey said that the village, and other taxing bodies, will be foregoing around $1 million in property tax revenue by utilizing the massive site for the reservoir.
The mayor, however, said that the money is worth it, considering how critical Bellwood’s flooding situation is. Harvey said he still recalls the flood of 2010, which ruined the police department’s whole fleet of vehicles.
“We were forced to borrow squad cars from neighboring villages,” Harvey said. That’s a reality that he doesn’t want to see replayed on his watch, he added.
Reclamation District officials said that the reservoir construction project “will create 633 construction jobs and operate in compliance with the MWRD’s Affirmative Action Ordinance, ensuring representation of minority business enterprises (MBEs), women business enterprises (WBEs) and small business enterprises (SBEs).”
The construction project also entails a “multi-project labor agreement,” Reclamation District officials said, adding that the agreement will give employment opportunities to tradespeople such as ironworkers, operating engineers, truck drivers and electricians.
The construction project was partially funded through a $5 million grant administered by Cook County and funded by the federal government.
“Cook County’s investment in this vital project will improve the lives of thousands of residents,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle explained in a statement. VFP
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