Flossmoor homeowner: Butterfield Creek is carrying away my yard

Butterfield Creek looks tame enough, but has enough 
energy at one point in Flossmoor to take bites out of 
one property owner's yard.
(Photo by Tom 
Houlihan/HF Chronicle)

Butterfield Creek, a normally slow-moving stream as it passes though Flossmoor, is causing substantial property damage, a homeowner told the village board Monday.

Jeff Gossage, whose Dartmouth Lane property backs up to the creek, said he’s lost more than 25 feet of his yard in recent years due to water erosion. Following a heavy rainstorm this summer, the creek carried away about five feet of the backyard, he said.

“I’m not sure what course of action I am supposed to take,” Gossage told Flossmoor officials. Beside the village, he has contacted Cook County and the Army Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over state waterways, including Flossmoor Creek.

“Every year I look out of my back door and see that I have less of a yard,” he said.

Gossage said erosion along the creek is so bad that Commonwealth Edison has twice had to move utility poles that were compromised by the stream eating away its banks.

His house is close to the Dartmouth Lane bicycle bridge over the creek and a village walking path. There is a significant bend in the creek near his property.

Butterfield Creek flows from ponds west of Cicero Avenue in Matteson to Glenwood, where it joins Thorn Creek. After winding through Matteson, it travels through Olympia Fields and then makes a circuit of three country clubs – Olympia Fields, Flossmoor and Idlewild – before skirting the south end of Homewood and entering Glenwood.

The curve near Gossage’s house comes as the northbound creek turns east toward Dixie Highway.

John Brunke, Flossmoor’s public works director, said he believes Gossage will be able to take action to stop the creek erosion. However, he is likely to need an Army Corps permit to proceed with that type of preventive effort.

Brunke, an engineer, said the homeowner can probably use riprap, generally rock or other material that is used to build up shorelines and streambeds against erosion. He also said Gossage may consider using steel baskets filled with riprap materials. Brunke said he’d provide Gossage with a list of engineers who may be able to help him reinforce the creekbed next to his house.

Flossmoor is planning to rebuild the Dartmouth bicycle bridge in the next couple of years, and already has $250,000 budgeted for the work. That project will also include bank restoration, Brunke said. The project is yet to be designed but can include features that would prevent some erosion near Gossage’s property, he said.

Gossage said he would be willing to work with the village when the bridge project moves ahead.

Village Manager Bridget Wachtel noted that the bridge work probably won’t take place for two years.

“What can we do until then?” she asked.

Brunke said he’d stay in touch with Gossage. He said that what’s happening at the Dartmouth property may be “natural creek transition” but that there are steps that can be taken to prevent further erosion.

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