NIU to propose renovations program

By Elizabeth M. Behland

Proposed renovations to restore and manage stormwater of the Watson Creek that links the East Lagoon with Eco-Park will be presented to the state legislature for approval of funding from the state budget.

Eddie Williams, NIU vice president for finance and planning, said, “We are talking about cleaning it (the creek) out and putting landscape along-side of the creek.” He said a pedestrian walkway will be constructed along the creek and decorated with trees and benches.

Williams said there will also be an “impact on storm water storage.” He said there are plans to manage the flow of water through the creek so there will not be storm water overflow to cause flooding on campus.

“There is a practical side, it is not just a (campus) beautification plan,” Williams said.

If approved, the flood prevention would include drudging out the creek and constructing banks along its sides, he said.

According to the Board of Regents Chancellor’s Report, bridges would be built so the culverts can be removed and the creek water can flow without obstructions. The report states the bridges will also allow pedestrians to cross the creek without the culverts.

The chancellor’s report states that the creek renovations have been requested by NIU for the past 15 years. According to the report, the Regents have continually approved the renovations and the Illinois Board of Higher Education has been supportive of the project for the past few years.

The state has not supported the project in its capital appropriations process and the Regents suggest NIU find other funding sources to begin the creek renovations, the report states.

According to the Campus Master Plan Executive Summary, the creek renovations funding has been requested in fiscal year 1992 capital budget.

NIU Physical Plant Director John Harrod said, “Our experience has shown the creek has flooded in a number of areas on campus (in the past).”

The creek water has flooded the first floor of the Neptune Central Residence Hall which ruined the carpets and tile, Harrod said.

The hall is currently protected from flood water by sandbag blockades which prevent the water from entering the lower levels of the building, he said.

The storm water also caused the creek to flood Lucinda Avenue in the summer of 1987. The flood caused local traffic to be rerouted, Harrod said.

Harrod said the proposed creek renovations are a good plan because flooding problems “are the kinds of things we need to worry about.”

“Last year we (the physical plant) have tried to clean it (the creek) up as best as we can so there is no obstruction” preventing the flow of the creek water, Harrod said.

He said, “There has been a desire by the community to manage the flow of the creek water into other parts of the city.”