New Mundelein detention area holds enough water to fill a football field and end zones 30-feet high
Mundelein officials Tuesday celebrated the completion of a $9.16 million flood control project prompted by a deluge in July 2017 that inundated Division Street and Route 45 in the heart of town.
More than 6 inches of rain fell in 16 hours during that storm, overwhelming existing systems and sending village officials scrambling to find a solution to decadeslong problems.
"It was beyond terrible," Mayor Steve Lentz recalled during a brief event in Kracklauer Park to recap the drainage project and thank those involved.
Current and former village officials and representatives of engineering and construction firms joined Lentz next to the Seavey Ditch, an old channel that drains a 1,220-acre residential area to the west known as the Western Slope.
The neighborhood had been prone to flooding since it was built in the 1940s, before ordinances to regulate stormwater were enacted.
The solution included installing about 2,150 feet of 7-foot-diameter storm sewers along Division Street and 1,700 feet of sewers to connect side yards and intersections.
Runoff is channeled by the Seavey Ditch beneath Route 45 and Seymour Avenue into an immense, 8-acre detention area built to hold more than 13 million gallons. That's the equivalent of filling the footprint of a football field, including the end zones, to a depth of 30 feet.
"Trying to put the scope of this project into perspective is a challenge because the numbers are enormous," Lentz said.
The 2017 flood shook village officials and initiated a series of actions over the next four years to relieve flooding and provide other public benefits.
That included a purpose for the former U.S. Music Corp. site, which was demolished to make way for the detention area.
The stormwater project also provided a sense of urgency for the village to consolidate and relocate its public works facility. That was accomplished via a land swap that allowed the village to save millions, according to Lentz.
"Suffice to say, we were extremely fortunate in how this all came together," he said.
HR Green designed the detention area.
"For any community, it's a very large job," company Vice President Ajay Jain said after the event. "What was really unique was the village's vision and bringing all the pieces together."
A $500,000 grant was secured from the Illinois Department of Transporation, but the bulk of the cost is being financed through a $3 monthly stormwater fee for all village properties and a package liquor tax.
Tuesday's event celebrated the end of the engineering and construction of the stormwater project, but there is more to come for the water storage area and surrounding properties.
"We didn't want it to be a random, forgotten pond downtown," said Amanda Orenchuk, community development director.
The detention area has been planted with deep-rooted vegetation to filter water and attract wildlife, including monarch butterflies.
The next phase envisions a park with a stage and public art, along with a path encircling the detention area. Concepts also call for 116 apartments on 3 adjoining acres as well as a townhouse project on 6 acres.
"We're making sure it's a place, not a utility," Orenchuk said.