4/12/2016 – Village Meeting

At the April 12th Village Meeting, Strand Associates laid out a four-phase plan to alleviate much of the flooding which would occur during a 100-year storm (the remit given them by the Winnetka Village Council) at a total estimated cost of about $57 million.

Phase 1 would create over 120 acre feet of storm water storage in the Forest Preserve west of Hibbard between Willow and Winnetka Avenue, adding wetlands and permanent standing water.  The Duke Childs fields – used for lacrosse and soccer – would be moved to the top of the landfill which would be leveled using material dredged from the Forest Preserve.  The old field location along Willow Road would be dredged to create a permanent basin with 18.2 acre feet of storage connected to the forest preserve wetland to accept water from the tree street area.

The Forest Preserve storage is the lynchpin for the rest of the project, since there are not many other open spaces for storing large amounts of water in the Village.  This reliance plays out in a couple of ways.  The timing of the whole project would likely be limited by the Forest Preserve (planning and execution of the first phase likely to take about 4 years, while subsequent phases could likely be planned and implemented in about 2 years each).  Additionally, the Forest Preserve has asked that 1) all Village options are first exhausted and 2) the water is cleaned before it arrives in the Forest Preserve.

Phase 2 envisions a set of pipes bringing water from southern Winnetka along Sunset Rd. and Mount Pleasant St. to Crow Island Woods.  Another pipe would carry the water from Crow Island to the forest preserve area from phase one.

The presented plan for Crow Island woods envisaged digging a basin with storage capacity of about 16 acre feet containing permanent 5-6 foot deep water in a canal between the Mt. Pleasant and Sunset pipes surrounded by some marshland, wet meadow, and tree plantings.

Strand noted that the entering surface water will be contaminated by fertilizers, chemicals, salt, and perhaps heavy metals, but that every watershed is different, so it’s hard to say in advance what the components might be.

The type of wetland proposed by Strand is an EPA-promoted plan for cleaning water.  The wetland plants will absorb many of the contaminants, while others will sink to the bottom of the basin which would be dredged about every 10 years.  Mechanical options are not really viable for storm water given that most of the water arrives in only a few hours a month, but green infrastructure upstream could filter out a small percentage of contaminants before arriving at Crow Island.  Strand alleged that the water would be safe, but that if we didn’t want these sorts of chemicals in our water, that we should, for instance, ban Phosphorus-based fertilizers on a Village level.

It didn’t appear that Strand had thought a lot about the consequences of deep water in a public area close to Crow Island School.  Deep water does help create a diverse ecosystem (which, among other things, usually controls mosquitos) and looks nice, but Strand received a lot of feedback about child safety, and indicated that the next version of the plan would be more marshy or with the deep water somehow shielded.

Phase 3 of the proposal would create storage (5.6 af) under the fields between Skokie & Washburne schools, and a pipe bringing water down Oak St ($4.7 million).  Phase 4 would make improvements along Willow, Provident, and an area north of Pine, as well as creating some storage in Winnetka’s Par 3 golf course and the forest preserve between the golf course and Forest Way ($13 million).


Four Phase Plan – Grand Total: $57.7mm

Phase 1 – $23.6mm

  • Forest Preserve DCC Hibbard Road stormwater storage project – wetlands, permanent standing water. $8.5mm
  • Duke Childs lacrosse fields – move fields on top of landfill, permanent standing water. $1.0mm
  • Winnetka landfill improvements – lacrosse field relocation. $2.3mm
  • Ash Street conveyance project. $5.3mm
  • Hibbard Road North conveyance project. $6.5mm

Phase 2 – $16.4mm

  • Crow Island South stormwater storage project. $1.8mm
  • Sunset Drive East conveyance project. $10.4mm
  • Sunset Drive West conveyance project. $2.8mm
  • Mount Pleasant conveyance project. $1.4mm

Phase 3 – $4.7mm

  • Washburne-Skokie school underground stormwater storage project. $1.4mm
  • Oak Street conveyance project. $3.3mm

Phase 4 – $13.0mm

  • Provident local storm sewer improvement project. $2.9mm
  • Willow Road local storm sewer improvement project. $5.3mm
  • North of Pine conveyance project. $2.5mm
  • Duke Childs / WPD Par-3 Golf Course/Forest Preserve DCC storage project. $2.5mm


4/7/2016 – Personal Conversation with Strand

I’m a Winnetka resident that relies on Crow Island Woods. I recently got involved in learning about the storm water alternatives study. Over the last couple of days, I’ve read the village storm water alternatives site and contacted many people. I was surprised by what I found.

Following are my notes from a conversation I had on 4/7/16 with Michael W. , the Strand Associates project lead for the Storm Water Alternatives Study. Michael quickly returned my call, was eager to talk in a transparent manner, stated that he seeks to improve Crow Island Woods and wants to discuss the issues. He wants an opportunity to show Strand’s vision of what the Crow Island Woods – South space looks like in concept.

Nevertheless, I still firmly oppose the Crow Island Woods – South and North projects. I do plan on attending the 4/12 meeting and listening to the vision presentation. I apologize in advance for any errors that follow…this is my best recollection…

Large Land Owners:
Strand talked with the three large Winnetka landowners about storm water solutions:

  1. Forest Preserve
  2. New Trier High School
  3. Cook county

Strand’s Proposal

Strand aims to have storage of at least 150 Acre-Feet (Ac-Ft). The next two sections indicate what will and will not be part of the proposed plan.

Yes, Part of the Proposed Plan:
No. Option Acre-Feet %-age Total Comment
1 Forest Preserve 124 Ac-Ft of storage 60% 60% of total 208 Ac-Ft
2 Crow Island Woods South 20-35 Ac-Ft of storage 13% Represents the largest part of plan that is not forest preserve.
3 Duke Child's Lacrosse Fields 12-16 Ac-Ft of storage 7%
4 Par 3 Golf Course 15-35 Ac-Ft of storage 12% Plan to re-sculpt par 3 course.
5 Washburne-Skokie fields 4-6 Ac-Ft of storage 2%
6 Local streets 6-20 Ac-Ft of storage 6% By implementing green infrastructure
No. Option Acre-Feet Comment
1 Duke Child's Ball Fields 24-332 Ac-Ft of storage However…the baseball fields are at the end of the list and that project may not be recommended (like lowering the baseball fields).
No, Not Part of the Proposed Plan:
No. Option Comment
1 Crow Island Woods – North Strand is currently not recommending putting North in the plan. If the Forest Preserve does not allow their lands to be used then Strand may look at Crow Island Woods North. The Forest Preserve land is a huge component of this project a lynchpin. The Forest Preserve wants to improve water quality on land not owned by the Forest Preserve ('improve water quality' means that the wetlands and distilling will provide a water treatment). The Forest Preserve has stated that their property should not be used for storm water storage. If the Forrest Preserve maintains the stance of no storage on their land then Strand might have to look at Crow Island Woods – North. The Forest Preserve is open to seeing Strand's proposal.
2 Winnetka Golf Course Higher in the water shed. By gravity couldn't get a lot of water in there without pumps. Size and cost of pumps is large.
3 Indian Hill Country Club Not much of this is actually in Winnetka. Would need pumps.
4 Homeowners 0 Ac-Ft of storage. Homeowner storage will be volunteer based.

Plan for Crow Island Woods – South:

  • Re-sculpt the area into water storage component
  • Add sedge meadow, bridges and trails
  • Aim to maintain trees that can be maintained. Will perform tree inventories, identify mature tree growth and design around it
  • Will recover and restore some trees
  • May lose mature trees. Plan to replace trees that are lost on Crow Island property.
  • Trees act as a significant buffer, so important to restore trees along property lines
  • Plan to remove ash trees
  • Crow Island Woods – South already lost a lot of tree growth from a “micro burst” a few years back. The Park District is already taking down trees
  • Will add a seeding area

Plan for Crow Island Woods – North:
– Similar plan to South–i.e., tree removal, Schmidt-Burnham Log Cabin removal, etc.

Strand’s arguments in favor of the Crow Island Woods – South project:

  1. Woods is not the original landscape. It will be returned it to its original landscape
  2. Implementing the proposed “vision” will make the property better than what it is now
  3. The forest had a micro burst event a few years back and damaged many of the mature trees. The Parks Department is already taking down trees.
  4. All of the land in the proposal cannot be Forest Preserve, so Crow Island Woods – South is a critical part of the solution


I’ve split the issues/argument between the South and North proposals, since the two options will be evaluated separately.

Select Issues – Crow Island Woods – South:

  1. Crow Island Woods is one property, not two. A change to the “South” naturally effects a change in the “North”.
  2. I do not think Strand has a majority of the public opinion regarding Crow Island Woods – South. We need to make our voices heard.
  3. It’s not called Crow Island “Park”, as stated in the study presentation. Rather, it’s called Crow Island “Woods”. Don’t remove the “woods” without a fight. 😉

Select Issues – Crow Island Woods – North

  1. Removal of American Indian Tribal Council Circle of trees
  2. No mention in the plan about the Tribal Council Circle of trees
  3. Strand did not contact the American Indian Center of Chicago to discuss the Tribal Council Circle trees
  4. Removal of Schmidt-Burnham Log Cabin, which Winnetka Historical Society owns and operates
  5. Strand did not contact the Winnetka Historical Society, which owns and operates the Schmidt-Burnham Log Cabin
  6. Removal of shelter, firepit, grass lands – although Strand did say they would try to design around that

Strand was conscious of funding–i.e., do what makes the most economic sense. Pumps don’t make economical sense. Is that challengeable?

Feedback to Date (4/7/16):

  • School District Feedback: Strand discussed Crow Island Woods – South plan with school district. As long as it fits within what Strand is doing, the School District is ok with going along with south side.
  • Public Feedback: Before the week of 4/4, the public feedback was in favor of Crow Island Woods – South. However, a lot of people have been concerned this week about Crow Island Woods.


  • 4/12 – Tuesday’s meeting is presentation of the plan’s “vision”. Thereafter, start dialog.
  • 5/10 – Strand to present findings and recommendations to Village of Winnetka. Hand off to Village of Winnetka
  • After 5/10 – Pick the projects. Determine project timing. Today, we are long ways away from implementation…but today’s choices affect tomorrow’s reality
Strand Associates – 4/12 Plan (Summarized)