Kenilworth sewer upgrade delay gives time for resident education

Kenilworth officials, who had hoped to embark this year on their “Kenilworth 2023” flood control and sewer system upgrade schedule, have instead put it on hold for at least one construction season.

Faced with residents worried about the project’s green components – permeable street pavers and extensive use of bio-infiltration systems, more commonly known as rain gardens and bio-swales – Kenilworth’s board has opted to hold off until it could complete a better public information program.

Delaying bids from this past April to the fall, or even early 2015, will probably increase costs from the roughly $5 million set for the project in the 2014 budget, Village Manager Patrick Brennan said Monday.

However, it will allow residents more time to understand why Kenilworth is opting to make the green efforts complementary to the other segment of the plan; separating east Kenilworth’s aging and insufficient combined sewer system, Village President Bill Russell said.

Russell said Tueday that residents came to the board in April and May, worried that the use of permeable pavers and rain gardens would change the look and nature of Kenilworth. Some were concerned about the fate of Kenilworth’s parkway trees if the bio-infiltration gardens and swales were built.

The green systems are meant to trap and hold water above ground and in extensive roots systems after storms, effectively controlling the rate at which floodwaters go into sewer systems.

Combining that with separate modern storm and sanitary sewers is an extremely progressive method, Russell said, “but communication is always a challenge … people were taken aback by the change visually. They needed to know why this was happening and that it was not a fashion decision.”

Russell and Brennan said the village hopes to install a demonstration bio-infiltration rain garden in front of village hall so that residents can see how one operates.

“We’re working on getting prices for one now,” Brennan said. “Hopefully that will make people more comfortable.”

Consultants’ studies found that the village’s combined storm and sanitary systems are anywhere from 164-676 percent under capacity. Separating the combined system to the east of Green Bay Road, is expected to minimize the kind of flooding that fouled residents’ basements with sewage, and sent floodwater into streets and backyards during storms in 2010 and beyond.

Bids for the 2014 sewer work were set to go out in early April this year and would have included work on Cumberland Avenue, all of Roslyn Road and sections of Melrose east of Green Bay Road.

The Cumberland-Roslyn-Melrose project delay, to which the board agreed at its May meeting, is allowing time not only for the village to provide residents with more information, but for a further engineering review of the plans, Russell said.

The project is part of the village’s multi-phase “Kenilworth 2023” Infrastructure upgrade of street, lighting, water and sewer systems. Planners believe the “Kenilworth 2023” program will eventually cost $23.7 million in three phases over the next 10 years.

The $9.64 million first phase included both water main and sewer improvements. It is being paid for largely with proceeds of a $9.75 million bond issue voters approved in April of 2013. A little over $1 million of the first phase funding went to water main upgrades that started in March and should be completed this month.

Some funds for the Cumberland-Roslyn-Melrose sewer project will come from a Metropolitan Water Reclamation District partnership grant for $993,000 in green infrastructure improvements.

Brennan said he expected that the delay could hike the project costs 2.5 to 3 percent, but Russell said making village residents comfortable with it was of prime importance.

“There’s no problem with us massaging the program in order to get the best solution for everyone,” he said. “Protecting the ambience of our village, protecting our trees and maintaining an environment that people traditionally expect in Kenilworth is very much what we want to do, while at the same time balancing that with the need for reasonable changes for environmentally responsible flood control.”

KENILWORTH 2023

WHAT: infrastructure upgrade program

TIME LINE: 10 years

TOTAL COST: est. $23.7 million

INFO: http://kw2023.com/resources

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