Pioneer Press:

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago has proposed creek and retention pond improvements that officials say will address years of severe flooding within the Colonial Ridge subdivision in unincorporated Maine Township. (Jennifer Johnson / Pioneer Press)


For decades, chronic flooding has plagued a densely populated neighborhood in unincorporated Maine Township, filling basements and sending rushing water under front doors during heavy downpours.

Today, plans to improve a creek system that snakes through the nearly 60-year-old neighborhood located just north of Dempster Street could finally bring residents some relief, an engineer with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District said.

Joe Kratzer, stormwater engineer with the MWRD, outlined the district’s proposed $15 million flood control project for Prairie Creek, Farmers Creek and a retention pond on property belonging to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital during a virtual meeting of the Maine Township Board of Trustees on Aug. 25.

The purpose of the meeting, explained Township Supervisor Laura Morask, is to start the process of developing an intergovernmental agreement with the MWRD in order for the project to move forward. The township will also be responsible for annual maintenance work related to the improvements, estimated to cost $14,000, the board was told.

Construction is projected to begin in 2022 if all agreements are approved and easements and land acquisitions are obtained, Kratzer said during his presentation to the board.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago has proposed improvements to Prairie Creek in unincorporated Maine Township, seen here along Bobbi Lane, east of Robin Drive. (Jennifer Johnson / Pioneer Press)


Farmers Creek originates near Lake Mary Anne, located just north of Golf Road and east of I-294, and runs south to Dempster Street where it joins Prairie Creek, Kratzer said. Proposed Farmers Creek improvements include the installation of a new inlet structure and grate on the north side of Lake Mary Anne; installation of an outlet structure on the south end of the lake to lower the water level by 1.5 feet; and replacement of pipes and culverts. Thirteen residences around the lake are expected to benefit from the work, according to Kratzer’s presentation to the township board.

Along Prairie Creek, which runs north of Dempster Street, work will consist of improvements to the creek beds, including regrading and installation of some retaining walls along Prairie Creek from Dee Road to Potter Road; installation of new, larger culverts along the creek routes; and realigning portions of Prairie Creek between Greenwood Avenue and Parkside Drive to improve the flow of water.

“Basically what these improvements will do is improve the amount of (water) flow that can pass through the creek so it’s not constricted and backing up into people’s homes, over-topping roads, impacting businesses and that sort of thing,” Kratzer said.

The project also calls for enlarging the retention pond on the west side of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital property north of Dempster Street and adding a pump station, as well as installing a new storm sewer along Dempster Street from the hospital to Farmers Creek.

Prairie and Farmers Creeks are tributaries of the Des Plaines River watershed and discharge into the Des Plaines River, Kratzer said.

For years, the retention pond and Prairie Creek have been blamed for the frequent flooding that has impacted a subdivision of townhouses north of Dempster known as Robin Drive. In 2013, one resident told the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate her home had flooded at least eight times in the 17 years she had lived in it.

“The project should provide flood relief in this area as currently designed,” Kratzer said.

A resident of unincorporated Maine Township's Robin Drive neighborhood dumps a bucket of water from his flooded townhouse in August 2002. Improvements to the creek running through the subdivision are proposed by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. (Terrence Antonio Jones / Chicago Tribune)


At least 125 structures in unincorporated Maine Township, most of them residential buildings, are slated to benefit from the work in total, he added.

“This project will reduce the impacts of flooding to those structures or, in some cases, it will completely remove those structures entirely from the threat of a flood,” Kratzer told the Maine Township Board.

Studies of flooding in the area date back to at least the 1980s, Kratzer told the Maine Township Town Board. In 2004, the MWRD was given the authority to manage stormwater and address flooding issues in Cook County, which led to a detailed watershed plan in 2011, he said.

The city of Park Ridge will also need to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the MWRD before work begins. Public Works Director Wayne Zingsheim said the city is being asked to take over maintenance of the pump station proposed for the retention pond.

So far, MWRD has spent approximately $2 million for studies and designs related to the Prairie and Farmers Creek projects, Kratzer said.

Following the Aug. 25 presentation, the Maine Township Board voted to direct officials to develop an intergovernmental agreement with MWRD. When completed, the agreement will need to return to the board for adoption, Morask indicated.

“I cannot tell you how pleased I am that this project is happening,” Trustee Kim Jones said. “This is fantastic.”