By Bob Balgemann


Two state legislators have made $400,000 in funding opportunities available to the city, which would be used toward paying for $1.1 million in storm sewer projects.

State Reps. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, and Jeff Keicher, R-Sycamore, made the city aware of the grants through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DECO), for which there are no cost sharing or match requirements.

Budget and Finance Officer Becky Tobin presented those possibilities to the Committee of the Whole on June 8 and received a unanimous voice vote of approval. City council was expected to give final approval at its June 15 meeting.

There are two grants, for general infrastructure projects that are bondable. One, for $300,000, came through Sosnowski; the other, for $100,000, came from Keicher. Sosnowski represents the vast majority of Boone County and its municipalities, while Keicher represents a small portion of Belvidere and two townships.

Aldermen agreed with the recommendation from Tobin, Mayor Mike Chamberlain, and Public Works Director Brent Anderson that the funds be used for the storm water detention projects, which were included in the 2019-20 budget. Tobin recalled those projects were Dawngate detention improvements and the Low Flow Channel, from 6th St. to Appleton Road. Both are still under construction.

She said the $400,000 would free up general fund dollars for other projects.


There was some discussion during the committee meeting.

Alderman Clayton Stevens asked if waiting for the grant money to arrive “would hold us up from getting this work done this year.”

No, Tobin replied, as the money for those projects has been budgeted and moved into capital funds. Director Anderson interjected that staff was planning to have both projects finished this summer.

Stevens reported having talked with a resident of that area who was concerned with all the rain the city had been experiencing. He asked when she would be able to come to a meeting and talk about it.

To that, City Attorney Mike Drella said people could not come in and make comments, in person, to the committee or to council. He suggested she submit a letter with photos to him the Wednesday before the requested meeting, so they could be put in a packet for aldermen.

Anderson said the next committee meeting would be June 22.

Personal visit

Mayor Chamberlain said he received a phone call during that time about there being some flooding in that area and so, after the rain stopped, he got into his truck and went up to Bellwood. “I went through the whole neighborhood there about two hours after the rain quit, he said. “It (rain) was laying in some fields quite a bit.

“The next day Brent and I went and looked at the alley, behind Caswell Street, which perpetually floods and added that to our work list for the summer, to fix the alley as best we can. The problem is the alley is higher than the yards on the other side, and that’s a natural overland route when we do get rain. So we’re going to try and amend that to redirect it (water) to the storm sewers.”

Stevens remembered that time, and said, “I was there within minutes after the rain stopped and there was a lot of rain.”

“The interesting thing about that is if the rain quits, it travels away pretty quick,” the mayor said. “But if it continues raining for three to four hours and we’re getting a couple of inches an hour, there’s nowhere for it to go.”


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