Council hears options regarding Geneseo Creek flooding

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic
Geneseo Creek floodwaters surround homesite
Geneseo creek flows through heavy brush as it works its way through town.

The Geneseo City Council met April 13. Aldermen Wachtel and Simosky were absent.

In a brief special meeting before the regular Council meeting, the motion was made to approve a bond in the amount of $4,200,000 to partially fund the outstanding obligation for police pension. The move is projected to save the City $2M in interest.

Loren Rains, Senior Civil Engineer with IMEG, brought a program on the study commissioned back in December regarding the Geneseo Creek, and the regular bouts of flooding that occur along it. The City originally commissioned a similar study in 2013, after extensive flooding along the creek, impacting many areas of the community. Known as the Hundred Year Flood Plain, historical photos showed calamitous flooding in 1920, 1969 and 2013 along neighborhoods that the Geneseo Creek flows through.

The study recommended several options. The first and most long term solution would be to purchase ground south of I-80, along the creek, and create a water retention area, either in the form of a dry retention area, or a manmade lake with an earthen dam, that would enable the capture of water during periods of severe rains, allowing the controlled release of floodwaters. The tentative cost of this option would be in the neighborhood of $3M. Grants to assist in the payment of the project will need to be researched.

The most affordable, albeit not permanent, would be requesting permits from the IDNR for properties along the creek, as well as permission of landowners in the area, and do a clean up of the creek. It would allow for the removal of downed trees and brush in the waterway, along with trash and debris. Any live trees would not be able to be removed. This would allow for water to move along unimpeded, but would only be temporary, and need to be done on a regular basis. IDNR has jurisdiction over most waterways in Illinois.

An oxbow culvert where Rt 82 turns north off of Oakwood, near the Pizza Hut, could be removed and replaced with a larger structure. This would help when floodwaters rush into town, and the bottleneck that occurs at that intersection. It is not a fix for the entire situation.

Maintain green space, such as the soccer fields at Richmond Hills Park. Although not optimal for spring sports, this gives floodwaters a place to go until they can make their way north to the Green River.

Alderman Keith Kennett commented that the best long term fix was to keep the water out of town. If a recreational pond is the answer, the City would need to look at available FEMA and wetlands grants. Community involvement in the decision should be encouraged.

In other business, two appointments were made to the City Planning Commission. They were Morgan Thurman and Julia McAvoy.

A purchase of .38 acres was made from the Francis and Mary Scranton Trust for $9166. The purpose is for the moving of the Prairie Street Lift Station. The acquisition saves $2500 in purchasing an easement facilitating access to the future location.

The Employee Recovery Plan was approved. This restores certain concessions made that were given by the employees when expectations that substantial revenues were going to be lost at the beginning of the Year of Covid.

The City settled the Preston case from 2016 for $10,000. The settlement should be covered by insurance.

A Committee to address the Cemetery situation has been created, they will bring back suggestions to the next council meeting. It consists of Bob Wachtel, Martin Rothschild, Chad VandeWoestyne, and Jill McAvoy.