By Ted Schnell • BocaJump
City officials are preparing to embark on a $925,800 effort to assist homeowners along the Tyler Creek watershed to repair and stabilize the shoreline in an effort to curb erosion.
The funding for the program is from an escrow account that was started with the intent of building a regional detention basin for the watershed as Valley Creek subdivision and other developments were built, according to Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal.
But the regional detention basin idea was rejected as unwarranted by a federal agency, so the city intends to use the money to fight erosion problems along the creek.
“We finally have a program in place right now, where there’s residents who want to participate,” Kozal said.
Applications would be considered on a first-come first-serve basis until funds are exhausted.
The Tyler Creek Fund Streambank Assistance Program would allow the homeowners association to apply for funding, which can be in the form of a half grant, half loan.
Elgin Chief Financial Officer Colleen Lavery said the residents would be billed for repayments over 10 years, in the same way the city bills for special assessments – via the city’s water/sewer bills.
Under the plan, residents would pay no interest on the loans for the first three years.
To be eligible to participate in the Tyler Creek Fund Streambank Assistance Program:
- the property must be located in Elgin
- the work must be identified in the Tyler Creek Management Plan
- the project musty have support of the Tyler Creek Watershed Coalition
- applicants must agree to maintain the improvements and keep them in place for at least 15 years.
EPA grants sought, rejectedThe staff’s documentation for the proposal indicates that the city in 2010 prepared EPA 319 grant applications for four projects, which refer to a section of the Clean Water Act. The projects are:
- Eagle Heights streambank stabilization
- Judson University dam removal and streambank stabilization
- Spring Cove streambank stabilization
- Wing Park dam modification and streambank stabilization
The Eagle Heights, Spring Cove and Wing Park projects have received notification from the EPA that 319 funds are not being awarded at this time. The Eagle Heights and Spring Cove residents are undeterred and are moving ahead with the design and implementation of the streambank stabilization plans they have undertaken. Both associations are interested in a loan from the Tyler Creek Fund.
The design /engineering and construction for the Eagle Heights project is proposed to be $108,520. The design/engineering and construction for the Spring Cove project is proposed to be $50,650.
To date, the Spring Cove Resident’s Association and the Eagle Heights Resident’s Association have received $12,023 and $12,064 in funding, respectively, for their projects.
The Wing Park project will be revisited in August 2011 for a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their National Fish Passage Program to remove the dam in Wing Park along the creek and stabilization efforts.
The status of the Judson proposal was unclear on Monday.
Fund started with 1978 annexationElgin annexed Valley Creek subdivision in 1978, and the developer was required to pay toward the construction of a regional detention basin for the area as the subdivision was built out.
Valley Creek subdivision is north of Highland Avenue, south of Big Timber, east of Randall Road and west of Tyler Creek.
Detention basins are used to store water temporarily from storm runoff, which then is released slowly in the watershed to curb downstream flooding, according to the city staff report on the proposal. Regional detention basins operate in the same way but with better control than a series of smaller basins would provide.
The staff documentation state’s it is unclear why a regional basin was conceived for the area, and other developments that sprouted up along Tyler Creek also were required to contribute toward it. Ultimately, however, the regional detention basin plan was rejected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over watersheds and wetlands.
In the meantime, the city’s escrow account for the project had grown to $901,713, including interest.
With the regional basin rejected, staff documentation shows the city hired a consultant to examine the impact of the developments on the downstream flood plain. The consultant determined there was no impact to the regulated 100-year-flood plain, but there were impacts to the smaller 2-year to 10-year floods, which contribute to increased erosion, streambank destabilization and ecological degradation.
To address these impacts, another consultant was retained to develop a plan to address the un-detained impact on Tyler Creek by identifying projects to stabilize stream banks and provide various ecological improvements. This plan was completed in 1997.
The 1997 Tyler Creek Management Plan identified storm water management strategies for future development, such as storm water retrofit projects, stream corridor restoration and stabilization projects and wetland banks as part of a plan to improve water quality and reduce flooding. The Tyler Creek fund was to be used to fund these various projects.
In terms of stream corridor restoration and stabilization, efforts might include the use of rip-rap, streambank regarding, cut-and-fill placement of organic soil to re-establish a stable slope, planting of deep-rooted native vegetation and installation of rock riffle.
Three projects have been completed to date. Other identified projects could not be completed because they involved private property access or faced significant resistance from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the staff report states.