Walking in Deerfield's North Trail subdivision recently, Mark Samuels stooped near the curb line, grabbed a chunk of asphalt that had crumbled from the road and flung it aside.
"There's no arguing it," said Samuels, an architectural photographer and North Trail resident. "It's obvious what has to be done."
"But it has to be done is symmetry with alleviating the water situation," said Melissa Hoffman, president of the neighborhood's homeowners association.
North Trail's problems are two-fold, residents say — crumbling streets and ineffective stormwater drainage. They are calling for a complete resurfacing of the neighborhood's streets, as well as improvements to the stormwater system, as soon as possible.
They showed up in numbers to a July 15 meeting to urge action from their village trustees, citing safety concerns after a late June storm flooded streets and some homes.
While village officials are examining the road and sewer issues, it appears unlikely North Trail residents will get any large-scale, immediate relief. It would cost about $2 million to resurface the streets, said Village Manager Kent Street, and that project isn't scheduled until 2015 because of other priorities. And it will take time and more investigation to determine why flooding in North Trail has worsened, Street said.
It's doubtful North Trail would be bumped to the top of the priority list, Mayor Harriet Rosenthal said in an interview.
"They're a couple of years down the road. We're going to do what we can to alleviate their concerns on a short-term basis," Rosenthal said. "Just because residents of a certain area think their streets are worse off than other streets in the village doesn't mean that's accurate."
Meanwhile, North Trail residents met this week with village officials to discuss what's next. Hoffman came away satisfied they were being taken seriously and that appropriate steps were being taken.
"They were very cordial. They really listened to us," she said. "I've had no issues with them in that regard."
In a previous interview, Street said the village will make recommendations to the village board after further assessment of the neighborhood's infrastructure.
"We're looking at how it compares with other streets in the village," Street said, about the North Trail street surfaces. "Will a significant patch job help? … We don't want to throw good money after bad."
But for Samuels and others, patching the streets is a temporary and unsatisfactory solution to a worsening problem. Loose chunks of asphalt create safety issues for motorists and pedestrians, they said, and the floodwater fill portions of the neighborhoods streets two or three times a year, hemming in residents for hours.
"I don't see how they think we're to make it to 2015 with how the streets are currently," Samuels said.
Improvements to the Briarwood Vista neighborhood's sewer and water mains are next on the village's capital improvement plan. That's not acceptable, said Mike Leiderman, a television producer who lives in the North Trail neighborhood.
"No one floods as bad as we do, number one. The streets aren't as bad anywhere else in Deerfield, number two. …They can push the deadline up," Leiderman said.
Deerfield officials have been aware of flooding in the North Trail area, Street said. Prior to the July 15 meeting, there were discussions with the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission on how to improve the drainage capacity of the middle fork of the north branch of the Chicago River, which is where North Trail's stormwater goes.
Over the years, Deerfield has minimized flooding in various parts of the village, Street said, taking measures such as building detention basins and implementing impervious surface regulations on new development.
As to why North Trail's system appears to be failing, Street said it's something of a mystery at this point. Recently, village employees removed "two chunks of railroad ties" from the storm sewer, he said, but that didn't appear to help with subsequent flooding. The village will be examining the engineering of the system in closer detail in the coming weeks, he said.
For Larry Dorf, the flooding issue hits closer to home than the cracked streets. He has two sewer drains at the foot of his driveway on North Avenue. Neither seems to work in heavy rains.
In the June 26 storm, floodwater crept from the street, up his driveway and into the garage. Safety is the primary concern, Dorf said, adding he's had to help pull people out of cars stuck in the flooded streets.
"I can only speak for North Avenue," Dorf said, when asked how his street compares to others. "But we have a problem and it's not getting better. It's getting worse."