Ward Meeting Minutes

The 3rd Ward meeting takes place on the second Wednesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. at Prairie Lakes Community Center. Please sign up for my eNewsletter to get the latest information about the meeting. Thank you to volunteer Ruth Bethscheider who takes minutes. The following notes are an informal account of these meetings.

Saturday
Sep122009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Prairie Lakes Community Center
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

In attendance: 19 residents; Alderman Matt Bogusz; Jason Bajor, City Manager, Timothy Oakley, Director of Public Works and Engineering

Introduction, Ald. Bogusz
New series of Ward meetings, “Des Plaines 101” will focus on specific topics
Attendees will become better informed
Attendees will be able to inform neighbors about issues

Presentation on “Engineering 101” by Timothy Oakley
See Powerpoint file

Questions from Residents answered by Mr. Oakley

Will permeable concrete be used more often in Des Plaines?
Yes, the “green alleys” are in test phase. As they are proven to work, the concrete will be used in more alleys and other rights-of-way that are not heavily traveled as dirt can fill the porous spaces, making it ineffective.

Will more street lighting be installed in Des Plaines?
The tradition in Des Plaines has been to illuminate residential intersections and commercial areas. The city does not fund street lighting. Most street lighting is developer-funded.

Will anything be done with traffic signals?
The city owns only one traffic signal—at White and Oakton. All other signals are controlled by IDOT. Des Plaines will be painting signals black for aesthetics.

Water pools at Third and Prairie during storms, and Public Works employees arrive to do something with the sewer that alleviates the problem. What are they doing?
They could be rodding or using a T-Valve; however, there isn’t a valve in that intersection. Will look into issue. Residents should clean debris off sewer covers to assist with proper drainage.

Why do sanitary sewers back up?
Due to defects in the household systems. The city recommends that anyone with sewer backup problems should install “overhead plumbing.” One resident confirmed that this resolved the problem in her home.

Why is there more flooding since the Deep Tunnel project?
The reason for the flooding has to do with higher rainfall amounts. The Deep Tunnel project is not complete because a reservoir has not yet been built for the tunnel to empty into.

What is the lifespan of residential streets?
The cycle of a street’s lifespan begins in 10-15 years with resurfacing; with resurfacing again in another 10-15 years, and then reconstructing after the next 10-15 year time. Street conditions are given ratings by Public Works. 

After Mt. Prospect Rd. was redone, why did they recently put holes back in?
Mt. Prospect cut out holes in the concrete and filled them in again. This was concrete patching on bad areas that had settled.

How long are road contractors responsible for their work?
1 year; longer if an extended warranty was purchased.

Is Des Plaines preparing for the effects on weather of global warming?
More revenue would be needed for capital improvements.

When will Dempster Ave. at the River be finished?
There was a delay due to a design change. It has been resolved, and construction should be complete this week.

Questions from residents answered by Mr. Bajor

How much is the budget down?
Due to a decrease in sales tax from merchants and car dealers, the budget is down $2.5 million. The size of government is large and currently not sustainable with the budget we have. Tough decisions will need to be made on day-to-day expenses. Adequate staffing will be implemented. Beautification is still important in order to attract businesses and increase revenue. Casino revenue will be used to improve streets and pay off debt service.

If a gas tax of 1-2¢ is implemented, how will it benefit us?
A tax increase from the current 2¢ per gallon to 4¢ (Park Ridge has 4¢ per gallon) will directly fund street improvements. An increase will not shut down businesses or affect consumer choice.

How much will a property-tax increase mean to homeowners per month?
A 1% increase on a $300,000 home will equal $2 per month.

What about red-light cameras?
Other communities who have failed at this endeavor have looked at where to make revenue first. Des Plaines will look at safety issues first using traffic studies to determine the most unsafe intersections, then install. Implementation of the ticket process will be reasonable and judicious.

Has a new fire chief been brought in to reduce the work force?
No, he was the best possible candidate. Life safety is a priority. The new chief will assist with determining the most efficient way to run the department including the deployment of various apparatus, the number of firefighters sent on calls, and early retirement options for staff so that firefighters will not lose jobs.

Why is the Sysco retention pond still full? (Ald. Bogusz). An update is coming out this week.

Informal poll of audience

Should Des Plaines implement a gas tax to fund street improvements?
Yes (13)
No (6)

Should Des Plaines implement the use of red-light cameras to improve public safety?
Yes (10)
No (9)

Saturday
Aug152009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Prairie Lakes Community Center
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

In attendance: 25 residents; Alderman Matt Bogusz; Jason Bajor, City Manager

Introduction, Ald. Bogusz
City Council and Staff met to form strategic plan for Des Plaines
Meeting to focus on strategic plan from 3rd Ward perspective
Attendees will break into three groups

Des Plaines Strategic Plan, City Manager Bajor
Plan to determine what we can do now
How much resources do we have
Create a list of priorities for city to accomplish
City Council and Staff met with facilitator
Identified S.W.O.T. – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
What city can accomplish in 2-10 years
Must accomplish
Would like to accomplish
Council will rank and prioritize priorities
To put online available to public
To act as punch list for staff

Question: What will Des Plaines be like in 25 years? (in order of comments given)
A safe, friendly community with good schools
The #1 place to raise families
A city with residential and commercial entities that keeps and attracts businesses
A place for multi-generational entertainment
Developed
Improved city and resident communication
Attractive, dynamic downtown and riverwalk
Flood-free
Major economic upturn with more retail
Destination for other communities, suburbs, and city
Lean government
Proud

Break-out sessions with three groups identifying Des Plaines’ S.W.O.T. (see notes)

Summary
City Council, Staff, and 3rd Ward residents on same page with list of priorities
Next meeting September 9, 2009
Prior, Ald. Bogusz will e-mail list of priorities to attendees to rank
Next meeting will look at results and compare with city’s
Will talk about Infrastructure 101

3rd Ward Meetings Held Every 2nd Wednesday of the Month




S.W.O.T.

Attendees were divided into 3 groups to identify Des Plaines’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (two in each category). Participants reported on findings.

All findings are in alphabetical order:


Strengths
Age/history
Banks
Family activities
Grocery shopping
Location
Parks
Tax base
Transportation

Weaknesses
Flooding
Metropolitain Square
Nothing to do
Railroad crossings hem us in
Retail
Unattractive business areas

Opportunities
Arts/entertainment/restaurants
Casino
Des Plaines Theater
Location
River
Tax base

Threats
Access to emergency health care if Lutheran General is full
Casino
Gangs
O’Hare – air quality and noise
Perception of city
River



Residents’ Views of City’s Priorities

Residents broke into groups again to determine 1) what significant priorities the city must confront now, 2) what priorities they would like the city to accomplish in the next 2-10 years, 3) what issue/them/plan that has been postponed should be looked at again, and 4) what “big picture” paradigm shift they would like to see occur. Participants reported on findings.

All findings are in alphabetical order:

Must confront now
Attract/involve more young people in the city
Build up downtown
Economic stability
Flood control
Railroad rights-of-way cleanup

Like to accomplish in 2-10 years
Attract more businesses
Create new space for city services: Police Dept., Fire Dept., City Hall
Improved education
Improved signage
Increase theater and entertainment options
Retail development

Postponed issues to be looked at again
Beautification of downtown and Oakton corridor
Re-location of Police Dept. and Fire Dept.
Renovation of Des Plaines Theater
Traffic and railroad issues

Big picture paradigm shift
Age of city
Diversity of population in race and age
Retail and residential foreclosures – who will move in?
Up-to-date look of city

Saturday
Aug152009

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Prairie Lakes Community Center
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

In attendance: 19 residents; Alderman Matt Bogusz; Holly Sorensen, DPPL Assistant Director; Jason Bajor, City Manager; Jason Slowinski, Assistant City Manager; Jim Prandini, Chief of Police; Mike Conlan, Community & Economic Development Director

Des Plaines Public Library (DPPL) Presentation, Holly Sorensen
In this difficult economy, the DPPL is busier
Circulation and foot traffic increased 30% in June
Use of library computers increased
Strategic Plan implemented 2 years ago to feature FREE services

Work
How to start careers
Job seekers group and “Help Now” service to proofread résumés. Log in from home using DPPL card number
“Learning Express” to hone job skills
Practice tests available for GED, real estate license, CDL, EMT, and more.
Series of books and DVDs on career help

Learn
Adult computer classes
Basic computer skills
Practice and Play which offers help in applications like e-mail and offers open lab time with in-person assistance.
Access to Consumer Reports Online
Access to Chilton’s Online
Access to All Data for vehicle dealer announcements
Local newspaper archives including obituary search
Genealogy database
Teen homework online help with live tutors
College prep seminars
ACT/SAT practice tests
How to write an application essay
How to fund college

Play
Books/audiobooks
Movies
Friday night documentaries and independent films at 6:30pm
Sunday afternoon feature films at 1:30pm

DVD rentals
My Media Mall for audiobook downloads to MP3 or iPod
Summer Reading program has 2,000 children registered
Teen Summer Reading program and movies
Seniors Wii bowling every Friday from 10:00am – Noon

Library Book Cart Drill Teams featured in July 4th parade to compete at conference
Blogs on DPPL Web site
PlainTalk: features videos
Positively Ellinwood: fiction, movies discussions
Kidding Around: for children and parents
The Blog of Awesome: for teens
The library has free Wi-Fi access in entire building

Resident Open Questions
Backyard/front yard flooding, Jason Bajor
Q: What is status of the stormwater master plan?
A: This is funded each year; however, funding may have run out for this year. City manager will address issues with individuals. City is looking into how this can be funded for the future. In the meantime, City engineers can give homeowners landscaping ideas about how to alleviate flooding without requiring a variance.

Q: Why has flooding increased around 2nd, 3rd, Walter and Greenview since road and sewer reconstruction?
A: Need to look again as to why this may be happening.

Q: Why is area around Grant Ave. flooding up to doorways?
A: Record water is testing system. Need to find out if stormsewer system is scheduled for reconstruction this summer.

Q: Are catch basins allowed in the front yard?
A: Yes, but maybe not at some elevations.

Miscellaneous comments
Barricading flooded streets takes time as city services are spread thin (Bajor).
Northwest Municipal Water Reclamation District has to consider chemical runoff into Lake Michigan when flood water is released (Bogusz).
New construction drainage systems seem to be causing more flooding on Forest (resident). We need more reservoirs.
Increasing the span, rather than the depth, of the DP River can alleviate flooding.
Most flooding in DP comes from the DP River, and land that is built-out doesn’t allow for drainage. The big-picture problem needs to be addressed further north first as the flooding issue is bigger than Des Plaines (Bogusz).
Common misconception that “flood gates” are opened by City of Chicago that immediately drains suburban homes. As the stormwater system starts to work, residences on higher elevations drain first, and evidence can be sudden and dramatic (Bajor).
If water can’t be moved, it has to be stored. Clay soil is a big problem because of its inability to hold water. Gradually building water storage, like the Big Bend Lake project, will make more of a difference than even the Levee. Big Bend homes would not be permitted to be built if they were building today.
All new construction is required to include stormwater storage. All new buildings in downtown DP have underground water storage vaults.

Sysco Issues, Mike Conlan
Water retention pond is actually a detention pond designed to hold water for 24 hour and slowly release it. City civil engineers and Sysco’s engineering department determined the pond was not working properly. Sysco will correct the drainage issue in the next three weeks.

City tested noise levels from trucks and back-up beepers and found them to be at safe levels; although, a nuisance. The neighborhood directly affected is on Orchard Court, which is 550 feet from Sysco. Neighborhood just north of Sysco, at about the same distance, has not complained probably due to high sound wall fence bordering Sysco’s northern edge. City asked Sysco to be a good neighbor and try to alleviate noise for southern neighbors; perhaps, with a sound wall fence and plantings. Sysco agreed. City will follow-up.

Traffic Circle, Jim Prandini
The circle is under control of the state and very difficult to work with to improve traffic patterns.
This is the #1 accident location in DP; however, most accidents are minor.

Fireworks, Jim Prandini
July 4th is busiest night for DP Police Dept. with extra officers on duty
This year was no busier than last year.
Residents in violation are given warning for 1st offense and fines/arrest for subsequent offenses.

Police Announcements
Residents interested in Neighborhood Watch meeting at the end of August should submit their names and contact info to Chief Prandini.
Residents interested in Senior Police beginning this fall on Wednesdays at 10am in the Frisbee Center should contact Chief Prandini.


3rd Ward Meetings Held Every 2nd Wednesday of the Month

 

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