Mayor: Warrenville focusing on flooding, development
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A soon-to-be completed study of the way a nearby dam operates could help ongoing efforts to alleviate flooding in Warrenville.
The analysis of Fawell Dam — which DuPage County operates along the DuPage River's west branch in the McDowell Grove Forest Preserve — was among several issues Warrenville Mayor David Brummel talked about Monday night during his State of the City address.
The mayor said flood prevention and mitigation continues to be a priority for the city, which is working with the county and forest preserve district to find solutions.
As part of that plan, the city asked county officials to analyze potential changes to how the Fawell Dam gate is operated "in order to maximize available storage of the flood pool," without compromising the Naperville properties the dam keeps dry.
Brummel said the results of the study are expected in two to three months. "At that point, staff from the city of Warrenville, the city of Naperville and the state of Illinois will meet to develop a path forward for modifications of Fawell Dam gate operations," he told an audience of about 40 people.
Meanwhile, enhancements to a berm at Bower School were completed last year, "giving the school a much higher level of flood protection," Brummel said. Bridges at Williams, Warrenville and Butterfield roads also are being rebuilt so they don't impede the flow of river water.
Plans also call for a multiuse path to be installed along the top of a berm along the east side of River Road.
"Warrenville will see much improved flood protection and mitigation," Brummel said, "and nearly all the funding for these improvements will come from federal, state and county sources."
Brummel also touched on the city's proposal to create its third tax increment financing district. The proposed TIF district would include two areas that Warrenville wants to target for redevelopment — the Civic Center near the intersection of Butterfield and Batavia roads and the Old Town section near the confluence of Warrenville, Batavia and River roads.
When an area is designated as a TIF district, property taxes paid to local governments are frozen for up to 23 years. Any extra property tax money collected within the area after the date the district is established goes into a special fund controlled by the city. The money in the fund then can be used to help pay for certain improvements.
If approved this May, the TIF district will be "a very useful tool to make quality community improvements a reality," Brummel said.
In the meantime, Brummel invited residents to participate in a Wednesday night discussion about a plan to realign the junction of Batavia, Warrenville and River into a roundabout. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at city hall.
"The best plans nearly always come out of collaboration between citizens and officials," Brummel said. "So please make time to attend public information meetings to be informed and have your voice heard."
Monday's speech also highlighted Warrenville's successes during 2012.
Instead of having to dip into its general fund reserves, the city was able to increase its reserves by roughly $685,000 by living within its means and being debt free, the mayor said.
"All of our revenues go toward providing staff and services at a level consistent with what our citizens have told us they want," he said.
Other accomplishments include the recent demolition of a "decrepit" former piano store at the corner of Batavia and Butterfield roads.
"I hope you have noticed that this long-standing, high-visibility community embarrassment is now conspicuous by its absence," Brummel said.
Another rundown structure, a house just west of the police station, also has been removed, Brummel said.
"Both of these buildings were demolished by their respective owners," Brummel said, "when they determined that it made more financial sense to remove them rather than to bring them up to the minimum property maintenance standards of the community."
Last spring, the city created a law that requires property owners to register their vacant residential and commercial buildings. After a building has been identified and registered, its owner gets two years to bring the building up to the city's property maintenance code or tear the structure down. Brummel said 68 vacant buildings have been registered so far.
"Because of this program," he said, "the appearance of our neighborhoods and our property values are going to improve, one way or another."
Ultimately, Brummel said he wants Warrenville to be "the place where others come to see how a small town does it right."
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