by Dave Noble, City News Editor
ELMHURST – Leaning cautiously against a poorly-supported section of chain link fence that forms a perimeter around the recently-ravaged York Commons Park, Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Kennedy told reporters Tuesday morning that self-centered Crescent Avenue homeowners who frequently experience flooding are to blame for the “horrendous” sight of tree removal and digging underway at York Street and Cayuga Avenue that will culminate into a loathsome 11-acre detention pond, part of the controversial York Commons Stormwater Improvement Project that was approved by the Elmhurst City Council last Monday.
Scheduled for completion over the winter, the $2.1 million plan to create flood storage in the open portion of York Commons Park is intended to reduce the risk of flooding in three southwest sections of Elmhurst, including 38 homes along Crescent Avenue. Selfish and boisterous homeowners in that area were the primary reason why Elmhurst was forced to address the flooding. Kennedy was clearly emotional as he issued an apology to the majority of Elmhurst residents unaffected by flooding that must somehow weather the inconvenience of stormwater improvements going on throughout the city that are not benefiting them directly.
“We realize that this is an unpopular decision with most of our beloved citizens,” said Kennedy, clutching a portion of the galvanized aluminum fencing lacking a top rail and pole caps while surveying the land that once held no less than 15 trees and included an area most-commonly used for fireman at the adjacent Fire Station 2 to test hoses and scare teenagers entering and exiting the skate park with blasts of water from across the open field. “This black eye we’ve created is going to ruin the fire department’s open house next month, by the way.”
While a small minority of Elmhurst residents who experience flooding were thankful for the decision by Elmhurst to move forward with the project despite the resistance of more important citizens, others never affected by flooding were concerned with the appearance of a giant hole in the ground that will undoubtedly grow dandelions during the summer and will result in multiple traffic halts on York Street as ducks try to reach standing water that will build following heavy rain.
“I don’t want to see this every time I pass York Commons,” said resident and ‘stormwater anything’ opponent Jim Lucas, who stated that he drives past there ‘at least twice’ each month. “So what if they get a few feet of water here and there. Doesn’t everyone in town refurbish their basement every couple of years anyway?”
Other non-flooding homeowners expressed apprehension over the clear site line into the skate park and Smalley Pool that has been temporarily created after the trees were removed at the beginning of the project.
“It’s all visible from the road now,” said resident Mary Kuch, noting that non-Elmhurst residents who pose ‘numerous’ threats will clearly see the swimming pool and the skate park from York Street. “If they’re just coming into town to rob a bank or burglarize a home, that’s one thing. But I don’t want them swimming in our pool or performing Ollie’s on our half pipes.”
The York Commons Stormwater Improvement Project was finalized after the city entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the Elmhurst Park District to provide the 11 acres for stormwater detention. The negotiation process between the city and the park district was “Easy peasy”, according to Kennedy.