Home News Wilmette officials mark the completion of the largest capital project in the town’s history with a celebration

Wilmette officials mark the completion of the largest capital project in the town’s history with a celebration

Wilmette officials mark the completion of the largest capital project in the town’s history with a celebration

The biggest capital improvement project within the history of Wilmette received its moment within the highlight Tuesday night.

Wilmette trustees heard a presentation from Brigitte Berger-Raish, the village’s director of engineering and public works, on the Dec. 12 Village Board meeting, and he or she highlighted what she called a successful large-scale Neighborhood Storage stormwater management project.

Berger-Raish told trustees the project “will bring flood relief to 1000’s of (Wilmette) residents” and he or she noted in a village memo that it has “significantly transformed the standard of life on your entire west side of the Village, which had an extended history of urban flooding.”

“Wilmette had a flooding problem — not only on heavy rain events but even in moderate rain events as well,” Berger-Raish said. “And I can’t let you know the variety of conversations I had together with your neighbors during and after storms they usually shared with me the physical, the financial, the emotional toll that these rain storms had on their livelihood. So today is a extremely good story.”

The project was first detailed greater than 10 years ago and since its inception has been discussed at greater than 50 public meetings.

Wilmette’s Village Board first approved the huge stormwater-relief efforts often known as the Neighborhood Storage Project in 2018. Lower than a yr later, the board approved an optimization of the project, which brought the extent of protection up from 71 percent to 98 percent for structures which might be vulnerable to flooding on the west side of Wilmette, officials previously said.

A renovated Community Playfields in Wilmette after the installation of an underground water-storage system.

To deliver the project’s central goal of flood relief, the village installed 13.8 million gallons of stormwater storage underground at Community Playfields, Hibbard Park and Thornwood Park and 5 miles of storm sewer under streets throughout the west side of town, Berger-Raish said.

Completion of the project reduces flooding by almost 2 feet within the worst-hit areas of Wilmette in addition to providing a big reduction in sanitary-sewer backups, based on Berger-Raish.

The performance of the project was put to the test instantly in March of this yr when the village experienced what was described as a 25-year storm event. The town received greater than 2 inches of rain over half-hour through the March 31 storm.

In 2013, when Wilmette faced the same rain event, nearly 400 houses flooded, officials said. In 2023, zero houses reported flooding, based on officials.

“The info here speaks for itself,” Berger-Raish said.

Trustees lauded and thanked village staff for completing what was described as an “amazing team effort,” “an incredible accomplishment” and “legacy project.”

“I actually have to think that that is even a greater final result than anyone could have ever anticipated,” Plunkett said, later adding that she’s “so pleased with our village for each step of the best way” and that the project is “something for (staff) and our village to be pleased with eternally.”

On the time of the optimization approval in 2019, the village anticipated the project would cost $68 million. But the full price got here in at nearly $7 million lower than what was first estimated. The ultimate cost was roughly $61.5 million, officials said. The project was funded by a stormwater utility fee that went into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

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