Welcome to 3rdWard.org, a website dedicated to communication and transparency between Des Plaines City government and you. This website, maintained by 3rd Ward Alderman Denise Rodd, is designed to keep neighbors informed about issues and engaged in our community.
Public Works Q&A: Record Rains
May 18, 2020
With more than eight inches of rain falling in the last four days, this month is on track to be the rainiest in history in the Chicago area. In response to the flash floods that happened during the rain event on May 17, the Public Works Department has developed this resource for residents.
1. Where has the river breached Des Plaines River Rd.? Why didn't the recent reconstruction help?
The river breached Elk Blvd and Rand Road; Thacker St and Oakwood Av. The reconstruction has provided some protection from river stages; however, at these locations the pavement remains in the flood plain.
2. Who should we call if storm sewers cause flash flooding in the street in front of our home?
Please call Public Works at 847-391-5464 (24/7 number) to report storm sewer issues on roadways.
3. Is there a storm sewer "switch" that someone controls to drain the streets? Why don't they flip it on before the rain starts?
There are no switches or valves in the City that control street drainage. The storm water drains by gravity.
4. When they open the Chicago River to flow into the Lake, does it help our street flooding?
Opening the Chicago River does not help because our streets drain into local streams and the Des Plaines River.
5. What is the "Deep Tunnel," and does it help with flooding in Des Plaines?
The Deep Tunnel is a tunnel and reservoir project owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District that helps prevent sanitary and combined sewer overflows and backups.
6. Our street was recently reconstructed with bigger storm sewers, but we still had water back up in the street. Why?
New storm sewers are designed to convey a 10-year storm (3.4” of rain over a 24-hour period). If the rain event is larger, the storm sewers will surcharge and temporarily hold water in the street.
7. Can Public Works televise our storm sewers? We're sure they're blocked under our street.
Yes, please contact Public Works at 847-391-5464 to report a possible blockage and we will follow up.
8. Our basement flooded. How can the City help?
See the following information regarding the City’s Flood Rebate Program and Sewer Lateral Program:
9. What are overhead sewers? Does the City install those?
An overhead sewer prevents sanitary sewer backup by raising the elevation of a home’s waste pipe where it exits the house. The basement’s plumbing would then drain to an ejector pump that discharges to the waste pipe. See Page 2 of the Flood Rebate Program for a diagram.
10. My back yard has standing water. What can I do to get rid of the water and prevent it from happening again?
Homeowners have installed rain gardens, dry wells, minor grading, and storm sewer extensions to the local public storm sewer to alleviate intermittent ponding in the yard. Of course, the effectiveness of these preventative measures depending on the extent of the standing water.
See my post from May 2019 below for additional links on how you can DIY a back yard ponding solution. Please be safe!
3rd Ward Meetings Suspended and Other News
April 1, 2020
As is required by Governor Pritzker's order to stay home during this time of COVID-19, I have suspended our 3rd Ward meetings until we are clear to gather again. Please reach out by email at email@example.com or phone at 847-514-6318. You can also follow the 3rd Ward Facebook at www.Facebook.com/DP3rdWard and website blog at www.3rdWard.org.
City of Des Plaines Updates
> Get updates on COVID-19 and other important news at www.DesPlaines.org and sign up for email alerts for News and Announcements.
> The Cook County Department of Public Health has an online dashboard with real-time data on reported COVID-19 cases in the county. Click the Map tab to view specific municipality statistics. Visit the Cook County Department of Public Health
The April 6th City Council meeting has been canceled. The April 20th City Council meeting will be held by video conference to comply with the Governor's directive on public gatherings. Special Illinois Open Meeting Act provisions will be in place in order to allow officials to attend and to make the meeting public. Specific details will be posted on the City's website.
Fire and Police
Fire and Police Department personnel are practicing safe distancing with each other, rotating shifts and isolating between buildings. They limit exposure to the public by reserving contact to emergencies only.
Personnel are also on a rotating schedule, and the water plant is staffed 24/7 with a modified shift schedule.
City staff members are committed to public service and keep City services running with rotating schedules in the building and working from home. The building remains closed to the public; however, business can be conducted by phone, email and case-by-case appointments as needed.
City Manager, Mike Bartholomew, and Assistant City Manager/Finance Director Dorothy Wisniewski, have instituted policies that protect the City from the financial impact of the pandemic:
- Hiring freeze
- Non-essential budget expenditures are on hold
- Non-essential capital projects are on hold including the theater renovation
With the uncertainty of revenue streams from the State and County, Mike and Dorothy are taking the most careful and prudent measures to stabilize the City's financial health.
A Word About Social Media
As a communications professional, I am a firm believer in the power of social media to keep people connected with each other. Without it, I wouldn't be able to send out important messages from the medical association I work for during this critical time. I wouldn't be able to keep tabs on family and friends around the world. And I wouldn't be able to share lighter moments like a neighborhood birthday parade to spread some positive energy.
What concerns me about social media is its use to create private "neighborhood" groups that gives followers a false sense of proactivity. I have seen these groups started with good intention and devolve into hollow echo chambers. Complaints and serious concerns about neighborhood and community issues bounce off the proverbial walls without going anywhere.
True neighbor-to-neighbor communication takes place through direct contact. We are realizing how much we miss this during social distancing. While we are limited with face-to-face interaction at this time, please make the effort to leave these neighborhood social media vacuums and either pick up the phone or send a direct message to connect with each other from time to time.
This is especially important when there is an issue that must be brought to the attention of the Mayor and Aldermen who are also your neighbors. We are here, and we are listening, but we can't respond if you're not speaking directly to us.
The Mayor and Aldermen are available by email and phone. Please reach out to them directly when you have a question or suggestion. Contact info can be found on the City's website here.
Staying Home Together
March 22, 2020
With the statewide Stay at Home order in place that essentially isolates us from each other, the irony is that we're all in this together. Whether you're working from home, homeschooling or taking on home projects that you've put off for a while, please know that you're doing this for the health of our community. It's not often - if ever - that we're called to some level of public service, but now is the time for each one of us.
Putting a pause on daily routines is certainly disruptive. Some of us are likely alone at home. Some of us can't work from home and will lose jobs. Some of us will get sick. Please know that the services available for help are still there - just in a different form.
While public buildings are closed - City Hall, Public Works and sections of the Police and Fire Departments - personnel are still at work. The City is asking that residents and businesses conduct City business online, by phone or by email.
For emergencies, continue to call 9-1-1. For non-emergency issues like local ordinance violations, please call the Police Department at 847-391-5400. Our public safety personnel are at the highest risk for exposure to COVID-19 and we want to minimize their contact with the public as much as possible.
Visit the www.DesPlaines.org for the latest updates and to sign up for email alerts.
If you have an appointment with a health care professional or need to see one, you've probably already heard from their office. Call first and see what options for telehealth are in place. National rules for virtual face-to-face applications have been relaxed during this time, and you might be able to get the help you need without leaving home.
The State of Illinois has a COVID-19 resource website that is updated daily. Visit the FAQ section for information about assistance for business, education and unimployment insurance.
High School district 207 has partnered with elementary school districts to provide meals for students, families and staff members in the greatest need. If you need assistance, call 847-696-3600. If you would like to donate to this effort, visit the COVID-19 Food Drive website
The Self-Help Closet and Pantry of Des Plaines is still serving Des Plaines clients with some adjustments. Food only, no clothing, is distributed at the regular hours. The Pantry may switch to a curbside pick-up option soon. They are asking that if you would like to donate,monetary donations are the most flexible at this time so the Pantry can purchase the basic, nutritional foods. Donations of in-date, non-perishable food is always welcome; however, they cannot accept donations of clothing at this time. Visit SelfHelpPantry.org for details.
Check On Each Other
Even if you aren't seeing your neighbors, a call or text to check in, especially on older residents, is still a good way to look out for each other.
Thacker/Dempster Construction Plan Goes On
April 1, 2020
Resurfacing of Thacker/Dempster Street from Wolf Road west to Elmhurst Road will begin on April 6, 2020 weather permitting. This is a Cook County Department of Transportation project which consists of full depth patching of sections of the existing concrete pavement; diamond grinding and then overlay of the entire road with a new asphalt surface. Also, consistent with their regional practice for their roadways of this width, they will be restriping the road to be four lanes with a center turn lane versus the existing four overly-wide lanes with narrow median. This new cross-section should actually help temper speeds and reduce any rear end turning crashes.
The County will also be adding a pedestrian refuge to assist the crossing guard at the intersection with Westgate Rd. for Terrace School students.
Road construction is an essential business as designated by the Governor.
Apply for Back Yard Hen Permits at City Hall
March 1, 2020
Starting on March 2, 2020, you can apply for a back yard hen permit by going to the 3rd floor of City Hall at 1420 Miner Street from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Be sure to bring a copy of your plat of survey with a sketch of where the coop will go. Learn more and download the permit online.
Also, review the Fact vs. Fiction: Common Concerns About Hens document presented at the December 2nd City Council meeting here.
Des Plaines Theatre: Update at the Next Third Ward Meeting
November 29, 2019
The next Third Ward meeting takes place on Thursday, December 12, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at Prairie Lakes Community Center. We'll talk about what's happening at the Des Plaines Theatre. Take a look at this video for a sneak peek.
Council to Discuss Eliminating Vehicle Sticker Program
November 16, 2019
Vehicle sticker sales generates about $1.2 million in revenue for maintenance of City streets. It also requires a considerable amount of administration and enforcement. Not to mention the frustrating annual chore of sending in payment, waiting in line or waiting for the mail and scraping the old sticker off to put the new one on! If we were to eliminate the program, like many municipalities have, we would have to make up the revenue somewhere else. The cost of street maintenance in Des Plaines is about $3.7 million each year, so vehicle sticker sales account for about a third of that.
Some municipalities such as Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village have increased property tax, food and beverage tax or sales tax in their cities after eliminating their vehicle sticker programs. With the State of Illinois recently passing legislation that allows non-home rule municipalities to collect three cents per gallon of motor fuel tax, this opens up the option to use revenue from gas tax to cover the loss if the vehicle sticker program were eliminated. Since Des Plaines is a home-rule municipality, we would not have to pay an administrative fee to the State if we were to put this tax in place.
Assistant City Manager/Director of Finance, Dorothy Wisniewski, did some number crunching and research on the potential impact to Des Plaines citizens who purchase gas in Des Plaines. Using data that shows the average number of miles driven in the US and the average fuel economy (miles per gallon) of vehicles, if citizens purchased gas in Des Plaines with an additional three cents per gallon, the annual cost would be less than a $30 sticker. The cost would range between $16 and $18 per year. Of course, for those who drive very little or not at all, or who drive fuel-efficient vehicles (hybrid, electric), the motor fuel tax cost would be less than that range or $0.
According to the memo, "Additionally, this revenue is not a direct impact on residents but will also be received from pass through traffic as well as commercial truck traffic and shipping and rideshare services." In other words, not all of the revenue will necessarily come from Des Plaines residents.
City Council will discuss and vote on legislation at the November 18, 2019 Council meeting at City Hall at 7:00 p.m.
Weed or No Weed?
July 14, 2019
As Des Plaines starts discussion of whether or not to allow the use and sale of recreational cannabis after the State law goes into effect on January 1, 2020, I'd like to collect residents' thoughts on this issue. Before you contact me, please read this packet of articles put together by City staff that outlines what has happened in other states. Also included in the packet is an article by the Chicago Tribune that cites a study done by a St. Louis real estate firm that showed cities that allow recreational cannabis dispensaries see an increase in home values:
States that legalize recreational marijuana have seen an immediate uptick in home values even before dispensaries open, according to Clever’s report. The study analyzed housing data from Zillow and controlled for population and initial housing prices. Cities with recreational dispensaries saw home values increase almost $23,000 more over the past five years than cities where pot was illegal. Medical dispensaries did not have the same effect, the study found.
To 4th Ward Neighbors: Sign Up for Alderman Zadrozny's Newsletter
June 5, 2019
Hey, 4th Ward neighbors, be sure to click here and sign up for the email newsletter from your new Alderman, Artur Zadrozny!
Re-Think Backyard Flooding
May 7, 2019
If your backyard looked like our backyard last week, then you had a new water feature courtesy of Mother Nature. With the largest amount of rainfall in consecutive days since 2017, Des Plaines wasn't the only community suffering in the wet season. In fact, if it seems like we get more rain than we have in the past, it's not your imagination. According to the US Government's National Climate Assessment study,
Heavy downpours are increasing nationally, especially over the last three to five decades. The heaviest rainfall events have become heavier and more frequent, and the amount of rain falling on the heaviest rain days has also increased. Since 1991, the amount of rain falling in very heavy precipitation events has been significantly above average. This increase has been greatest in the Northeast, Midwest, and upper Great Plains - more than 30% above the 1901-1960 average. There has also been an increase in flooding events in the Midwest and Northeast, where the largest increases in heavy rain amounts have occurred.
In the past, we used to think diverting the water into the storm sewer system was the best solution; however, that is no longer the case. As we have come to learn, putting more water into an already-stressed system, no matter how large we make it, causes problems for our neighbors downstream. The Des Plaines River is the end point of the watershed for most of the City. People who live along the length of the River, not just in Des Plaines, are seeing their homes threatened and even demolished because of the effects of flooding.
So what are we supposed to do? Depending on how long your backyard "ponds" stick around, there are DIY solutions and more-involved solutions that landscapers and landscape architects can design and install. These can be simply building a rain garden or having a French drain system installed. Any of these solutions will add value to your home. One of the best articles I've seen on this topic is in Family Handyman, "How to Achieve Better Yard Drainage," which details real solutions to managing the rain water falling and ponding in your backyard (rain water is better for your grass and plants too than the fluoride-treated water from the faucet).
The point is to think of backyard flooding as water that can be dispersed on your own property without pushing it off to your neighbor's next door or your neighbor's downstream. As we learn to deal with increasing heavy downpours as the new norm, we can do something ourselves to manage the water collecting in our yards.
If you have pictures of water runoff solutions in your backyards, I would love to see them! Post to www.Facebook.com/DP3rdWard.
The new Des Plaines Comprehensive Plan contains a section on the City's policy directive for managing backyard flooding.
Des Plaines Hiring Crossing Guards
December 29, 2018
The Des Plaines Police Department is currently accepting applications for school Crossing Guards (and Substitute Crossing Guards) to work 1-3 hours a day, Monday through Friday, as needed. Crossing Guards prepare crossing zones, assist children in crossing streets safely, and acts as a liaison for the Police Department with students, parents, and school personnel. This is a seasonal position that pays $15.00 per hour. Please apply online at: www.desplaines.org/Jobs
What's in store for DP's future? Read the 2022 Strategic Plan
February 4, 2018
I'm proud to introduce the new Strategic Plan that carries Des Plaines into 2022.
"The City of Des Plaines introduces its Strategic Plan for 2022, a new and dynamic roadmap toward an even more exciting future. As we honor Des Plaines’ 182 year history and all of the contributions made by its residents, businesses and community leaders, we build on past and recent achievements to take our City to the next level. The City of Des Plaines remains committed to utilizing the most progressive, sustainable and efficient service delivery and partnering to create a high quality of life with those that choose to call Des Plaines home."
Download the 10-page plan here to view details of the policy direction the Council plans to take.
New website for Pantry!
January 7, 2018
Visit the newly redesigned website for the Self-Help Closet & Pantry of Des Plaines by clicking here.
The Pantry has been serving Des Plaines residents since 1971. Visit the website to learn of donation hours and urgent needs, client hours and registration info, and more.
2018 Ward Meeting Schedule
December 26, 2017
The Third Ward meetings will take place at 7:00 p.m. at Prairie Lakes Community Center on the following dates unless otherwise noted:
Council to discuss back yard hens
July 31, 2017
The discussion of whether to change the ordinance to allow back yard hens in Des Plaines will take place at the City Council meeting on Monday, August 7, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.
Experts Ed Fuhrman and Jennifer Murtoff will be at the meeting to provide facts, dispel myths and answer questions.
Mr. Furhman is a Technical Trainer at Great Lakes Naval Air Station and founder of Chicago Land Urban Chicken Keepers - Round Lake Area. He is a long-time area advocate for sustainability and self-sufficiency and has lectured extensively on the topic of back yard hens in urban environments.
Jennifer Murtoff is a consultant for homeowners and organizations interested in setting up and maintaining back yard hens. She has worked with Heartland Housing, the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, Sunrise Lake Outdoor Education Center, and the Oscar Mayer Magnet School. She has taught classes and served as a guest speaker at local conservatories and the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Public comment is encouraged. If there is consensus from Council to allow back yard hens, they will direct staff to draft an ordinance to be presented for a vote at the August 21 Council Meeting.
Update on Wednesday, August 2, 2017
View the agenda packet for Monday's meeting to read the background material on the issue including the ordinances in place in other municipalities.
Update on Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Discussion Continues on August 21, 2017. Download the packet item for educational materials and a proposed pilot program.
Update on Monday, September 18, 2017
Council voted tonight (7-1) to deny the ordinance that would have permitted the keeping of back yard hens in Des Plaines. Mine was the sole vote to not deny the ordinance. I will bring this before Council again in 2019 when new Council members will be seated, and if it looks like we may have a favorable outcome.
Petition to allow back yard hens in Des Plaines
June 17, 2017
The Des Plaines Illinois - Chicago Land Urban Chicken Keepers (CLUCK)group of Des Plaines residents has created an online petition for residents to sign to show their support to change the City code to allow the keeping of hens in back yards. Sign the petition!
As we prepare to bring this topic up for discussion during a future Building Code Code Committee meeting, having signatures from residents all around Des Plaines will add strength to the case to change the Code.
Let's talk water reclamation
March 8, 2017
- When we get sudden, extreme rain events, the Des Plaines River has the potential to flood. With much of the City's storm sewer infrastructure a century old, we must contend with the challenges Mother Nature gives us.
While the City budgets each year for storm sewer replacement and road improvements (such as River Road) to mitigate flooding, what else is being done? Our guest at the next 3rd Ward meeting is Commissioner Josina Morita of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board (MWRD). She can update us on what the MWRD is doing with our tax dollars for stormwater management and what policies are in place that affect Des Plaines.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Prairie Lakes Community Center
515 E. Thacker St.
Meeting Room 2 (northeast wing)
Everyone is welcome, and please bring a friend.
Blue Sky development going to zoning board
February 16, 2017
The public meeting of the Planning and Zoning Board (PZB) where the request for a zoning map change from the Blue Sky developers will be heard on Tuesday, February 28 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall. The agenda can be downloaded from here:
This is a proposed multi-family development for independent individuals over the age of 65 to be built on North Avenue between Second and Third Avenues. The acreage is currently occupied by the now shuttered Era Tool plant located behind the single-family homes adjacent to the railroad tracks.
Citizens are welcome to attend and to address the PZB at the podium with their thoughts on the issue.
Next 3rd Ward meeting: Improved sidewalk and curb design around Hoffman Park
February 5, 2017
Winter will soon give way to construction season in Des Plaines. West Villa Drive in the Villas neighborhood is scheduled for reconstruction from Southeast Place to Northwest Place. As part of this work, an improved design of the curbs and sidewalks on Hoffman Parkway around the circular Hoffman Park will be implemented for the safety of drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
Our guest, Derek Peebles, Civil Engineer with the City of Des Plaines will explain the research that went into the new design and what this work will entail. Please come:
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Prairie Lakes Community Center
515 E. Thacker St.
Even if you don't live near Hoffman Park, come to hear Derek speak as he gives a very interesting and inside look into what goes into the engineering of roadway projects within the City of Des Plaines.
Desparately seeking Lustron!
December 27, 2016
I'm working on a project with the Des Plaines History Center on the Lustron homes in Des Plaines. If you or someone you know is living in one, please have them contact me at denise@3rdWard.org. I need photos!