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What you should know about floods and then some.
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Flood task force to deliver final report
Oct 09, 2013

In what likely was its last meeting, Park Ridge's Flood Control Task force members outlined what still needs to be done – educating residents, establishing better relations with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and bringing new ideas about flood control and remediation.

Created in 2005, the task force was to disband after Mayor David Schmidt's second term began in April but was extended because of spring flooding. On Monday, the task force will deliver its final report to the Park Ridge City Council and spent time this week going over a checklist for that.

Although members will not ask directly to be kept, chairman Gale Fabisch said they would be happy if Schmidt decides to extend their duties. Flood control falls to the public works department if the task force ends.

"We serve at the pleasure of the mayor. We have enjoyed being here," Fabisch said.

Alderman Nicholas Milissis suggested approaching the city council before disbanding.

"The task force ending is up to the mayor, but if it's brought to the council, maybe it gets turned into a permanent commission," Milissis said.

Task force member Steve Tolan said it's important to stay focused.

"It's real important to know what we want to do, to have a vision and a plan. Especially with limited resources," Tolan said.

Milissis urged the task force, no matter what happens, to keep council members informed and to not defer because of budget issues.

"We want to hear more about opportunities like buy-back programs for residents. Don't not look into something because of budget concerns," Milissis said. Let us know and we will check it out."

The task force also worked on two letters to the MWRD, one asking to take part in a pilot study and the other asking for a presentation to residents. Both letters are to be sent to Schmidt for his signature before being forwarded to MWRD.

Also discussed was a recent report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which identified 47 properties in Park Ridge that may be eligible for elevation or buyouts, according to task force member Bob Mack.

"We have urban flooding in Park Ridge. We don't get the attention as if we were on the banks of a river that flooded," Mack said. He added that city officials should attend MWRD meetings and events put on by the Army Corps of Engineers.

"Park Ridge needs to be pro-active," Mack said. "If our mayor and city council represents Park Ridge at meetings, it would be huge. Even our at our meetings, our city manager, where is he?" Mack asked.

Residents are more informed now, member John Humm said, as evidenced by the number of flood control permits issued by the city.

"In 2008 there were 60….this year, through August, there have been 349," Humm said.

The task force also mentioned one goal that so far has failed twice — in 2011 and earlier this year — getting the city to give financial incentives for homeowners to install their own flood protection. It prompted the lone resident who attended the meeting — a 32-year resident who did not want to be identified, to say the cost of footing the entire bill for a flood control system may create a tiered society in the city.

"It will be the haves and the have-nots, with those who can't afford flood control systems getting an extra 1/2 inch of water for every neighbor that does," said the resident, adding that he hopes the task force is extended.

Fabisch said there is still work to be done, including creating a working relationship between Park Ridge and the MWRD.

"The door is open to having a better relationship with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District," Fabisch said.