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Palos Heights Aldermen Don Bylut (from left) and Jack Clifford, Mayor Bob Straz and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Kari Steele cut the ribbon to celebrate flood improvements at Arrowhead Lake on Friday. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Palos Heights Aldermen Don Bylut (from left) and Jack Clifford, Mayor Bob Straz and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District President Kari Steele cut the ribbon to celebrate flood improvements at Arrowhead Lake on Friday. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

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A sunny outlook after changes to Arrowhead Lake

By Jeff Vorva

A funny thing happened at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Arrowhead Lake on Friday.

It didn’t rain.

The ceremony was originally set for May 3, but it was raining like crazy in the morning and postponed.

A year Reclamation ago, when there was a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off this flood control project in Palos Heights, it was raining like crazy.

But Friday, the weather was sunny and so was the mood.

“The rain just shows that we really needed this project,” said Kari Steele, the president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. “But I’ll take the good weather and the sun, right?”

STEELE scaled

Kari Steele of the MWRD speaks before Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at Arrowhead Lake.

The work at Arrowhead Lake increases floodwater storage by more than 13 million gallons in the Forest Preserves of Cook County by replacing an existing dam and raising an existing bicycle trail along the lake in unincorporated Cook County.

The MWRD removed 70 structures from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Zone A flood plain in Palos Heights. On March 11, the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map was officially revised, providing protection, peace of mind and cost savings for current and future residents of Palos Heights, Steele said.

In addition to removing structures from the 100-year flood plain, this collaborative project restored, and improved forest preserve amenities at Arrowhead Lake.

Palos Heights Mayor Bob Straz was happy to see this day come.

“In our hearts, this started more than 40 years ago,” Straz said. “For all of those years, people were in a flood plain and each one of them had to pay $1,000 – if not more – a year in flood insurance.”

The only cloud covering the event was the fact that two people who tried to get work like this done over the years – Phil and Doris Tortorici – died in recent years.

“They never got to see those fruits of over 30 years of fighting,” Straz said. “Keep them in your heart as we go forward.”

 

STRAZ scaled

Palos Heights Mayor Bob Straz said the improvements to Arrowhead Lake solves problems that have been going on for decades.

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