The Forest Park Village Council, Monday, made it easier for residents to apply for a flood prevention grant.
Not only did council members vote to eliminate the application deadline that has been in place since the program began in 2010, but they also recommended increasing the total amount of money available.
“When this program was originally established, it was new to us and therefore for budgeting purposes we established the Feb. 15 deadline so as to prepare us for the ensuing budget preparation,” Mayor Anthony Calderone explained in recommending the changes. “Several years have passed since its inception and we have learned that it can be difficult for residents to remember to make application during the winter months when flooding potential is nearly absent.
“My recommendation is to simply budget the line item with sufficient funds so that property owners could submit applications at any time during the year and that we would fund the project, provided we have not exhausted the budgeted amount.”
He recommended that the amount be increased from $30,000 in 2015 to $75,000 in 2016, noting that the appropriation has generally been $50,000.
In supporting the changes, Commissioner Dan Novak called the program a “great idea that is good for residents.”
When Calderone encouraged commissioners to publicize the program to residents, Commissioner Joseph Byrnes suggested informing residents undertaking flood prevention projects during the permit process.
Calderone suggested using the village’s email communication software or including flyers with water bills. Sally Cody, executive secretary, noted that information about the program is included in the current issue of the village newsletter and is scheduled to appear in the next issue as well.
The program offers grants to residents who install an overhead sewer, a backflow prevention valve or lift station. Each grant will cover 50 percent of the cost with a maximum of $1,500.
Property owners are encouraged to obtain multiple quotes from qualified, licensed contractors, with a minimum of two quotes. The program is limited to owner-occupied single-family or two-flat residences.
Eligible costs include the cost of excavation and exposure of the house lateral, including support of the existing structure, for reconnection of a new overhead sewer to the existing lateral; cost of a new sump pit, sump pump and associated electrical and plumbing work needed to lift drainage from basement plumbing to an overhead sewer; cost of trenching and concrete floor replacement; cost of installing a backflow prevention valve with a bypass and associated electrical and plumbing work; and permit fees.
Not covered are removal and replacement of interior basement walls and finishes; use of materials not meeting the village’s guide specifications; planting of new landscaping other than grass; new electrical panels; and upgrading the electrical supply.
According to Forest Park officials, flooding is tied to the fact that the village is served by combined sewers that carry sewage and storm water. During some intense rains, the capacity of the combined sewer system is not adequate to carry the combined flow, which results in pressurized sewers. When pressurized, the combined sewage can backflow through house sewers into basements.