Recession slows sewer work
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org September 4, 2012 11:20PM
Updated: October 6, 2012 1:58PM
JOLIET — The recession stalled progress in James Alston’s neighborhood and in a lot of other places around Joliet.
Alston went to the Joliet City Council meeting Tuesday to ask if the city could get back to work on a storm sewer project that has so far served just a portion of his Clearview neighborhood near Nowell Park.
“We’ve been getting flooded out,” Alston, who does not have the storm sewer, told the council.
Even in this drought-dry summer, a good rain like the one Saturday leaves lots of water in Clearview yards and driveways, Alston said.
The city is coming back to bring the storm sewer to more homes in Clearview but not until 2015. Even then, only a couple of more blocks of Clearview will be added.
It’s that way all over the city, said James Trizna, Joliet’s director of public works.
“These are typical situations that are developing because we ran out of NIP funds,” Trizna said.
NIP was the popular Neighborhood Improvement Program, which previously was funded with as much as $10 million a year in casino tax dollars to add curbs and gutters and improve storm sewers in some of the older parts of town.
“If we had 10 years more of NIP money we would have been able to get curbs and gutters in all the older areas of the city that don’t have them,” Trizna said.
Now, he said, the city spends about $1.1 million from its share of state Motor Fuel Tax dollars on neighborhood improvements. That’s even less, Trizna said, than when he first came to work for the city in 1987 before NIP was started.
NIP was funded with $7.5 million most years and as much as $10 million in some. About 50 blocks of city streets were improved each year.
Now, Trizna said, “We do about six city blocks a year.”
Trizna noted that many of those blocks have been in Joliet for decades, and the city wants to get to them as soon as money allows.
The Clearview neighborhood was annexed into Joliet in the pre-recession year of 2003 with the goal of solving the flooding problems with modern storm sewers.
An older area of 135 homes, Clearview was developed in unincorporated Will County adjacent to Joliet but without sanitary and storm sewers. The area had septic systems. But as for rainwater runoff? “They had a storm drainage here, a storm drainage there,” Alston said. “It was hit and miss.”
The city put the first section of storm sewer in the section of Clearview that needed it most, Alston said. And, the people there have been helped quite a bit.
“But,” he said, “The biggest part of us still get flooded.”