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Article updated: 1/25/2013 10:19 AM

Carol Stream could pay more for flood project

By Christopher Placek

Carol Stream Park District may have to pay DuPage County more than expected for stormwater storage space at soon-to-be constructed flood reservoirs in Armstrong Park.

Park district board members said they were surprised to hear the county's new price -- $550,000 -- for additional storage capacity intended to handle the district's proposed recreational projects, including raising ball fields and a parking lot. The first cost estimate was about $300,000.

As a result, board members indicated some projects might have to be deferred because the district only budgeted $1.3 million for work at Armstrong Park.

But this week, DuPage County Stormwater Management Department Director Tony Charlton said it was unfair to say project costs have risen, since the first price estimate -- which he labeled as $330,000 -- was likely a placeholder that park district staff devised during the budgeting process.

"The park district asked us for a cost estimate, but we declined to give it because we needed to do the engineering," Charlton said. "(We said) 'until we sit down and do the engineering, it's unsure how it will change.'"

The county first provided the district with its estimate this month, Charlton said.

Park district Commissioner Brian Sokolowski said the cost is "way, way, way more than what we originally budgeted," and also criticized the project's overall cost -- now estimated to be $8 million when county officials have been saying $5 million.

"To me, that's a deal killer," Sokolowski said. "It could be."

Charlton said the project's cost always has been around $8 million; the $5 million figure is just the amount the county will receive from a bond issue.

"We've always had to find an additional $3 million from additional funding sources," Charlton said. "We're still looking through some of those ... There's nothing over budget from original estimates."

The stormwater project was authorized by way of an intergovernmental agreement approved by the park district, village and county boards in 2011. Intended to ease flooding in the surrounding neighborhood, the stormwater system will consist of two reservoirs and a siphon that will release stormwater to a downstream point in Klein Creek.

All three governmental agencies will be able to review and approve final design plans before construction begins.

The park district is planning $1 million in recreation projects at Armstrong Park, including the addition of a new ballfield, sled hill, paths, playground and snack bar/restroom building.

Park board President Brenda Gramann said it's possible the park district could scale back its planned recreation projects or withdraw from the intergovernmental agreement, but right now "everyone will move forward in 2013."

"It's a friendly but complicated process," she said.

Currently at Armstrong, only a mound of dirt sits on the site of the stormwater project, while the county waits for final permit approvals from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The local office of the DNR has reviewed the project, but its Springfield office is still evaluating the project for dam safety, according to Charlton.

"It's getting to be a lengthy permit review from the state," he said. "But is it out of the ordinary? No. They do their best, but you have to wait your turn in line."

The county submitted plans to the state in August and the project is only a couple months off schedule, Charlton said.

It's unclear when ground will be broken until the state review is complete, but it's possible work could begin this summer or fall, Charlton said. Construction is expected to take a year.

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