Get a grant, give two: Flossmoor secures $1.5 million for flooding project, helps restaurants

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Get a grant, give two: Flossmoor secures $1.5 million for flooding project, helps restaurants

November 17, 2020 - 13:00
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The Village of Flossmoor is to receive a $1.5 million grant to put toward its downtown flooding fixes.

Mayor Paul Braun announced just before the end of the Village Board’s regular meeting held Monday, Nov. 16 — via Zoom — that the Army Corps of Engineers notified the village it was awarded $1.5 million. Flossmoor is obligated to contribute another $500,000 to the project upon receiving that grant.

Braun said that is a big chunk of the proceeds from the recently approved $10 million bond referendum that will not have to go toward work on the Flossmoor Road viaduct — and areas upstream in Heather Hill and the neighborhood north of downtown — to address flooding. The downtown drainage improvement project is expected to cost between $5.7 million and $6.5 million. Whatever money is left from the $10 million in bond sales is to be used for street repairs. Flossmoor officials have said they are hoping to fund as much of the flooding project with grants as possible in hopes of completing as much roadwork as possible.

The bond referendum passed Nov. 3, with 82.03% of Flossmoor voters supporting the sale. Braun during the Nov. 16 meeting thanked the public, board, staff and a citizens referendum committee for their support on that referendum.

“I can tell you we will be very good stewards of that bond money,” Braun said.

 

Village grants to help Flossmoor Station, Bistro on Sterling

The Village Board voted 5-0 on Nov. 16 to approve two resolutions providing Economic Incentive Agreement Grants to two Flossmoor restaurants trying to figure out how to keep dining going despite recently renewed indoor seating restrictions and changing weather.

One grant is providing $3,600 to Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery to offset the costs of a tent and heater for November and December, while the other gives $1,000 to Bistro on Sterling to pay for electric heaters.

Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said the grants are in the interest of helping businesses trying to navigate the indoor restrictions implemented once again on restaurants and bars in suburban Cook County by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in an attempt to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions this time around come at a point where cold weather is making it harder for establishments to shift to outdoor dining options.

“We all acutely know how our restaurants are struggling,” Wachtel said.

Reports from Wachtel note the village has paid for tents in the public right-of-way in front of Bistro on Sterling and Dunning’s Market since late May. Flossmoor intends to keep them up through December and monitor usage over the last two months of the year to determine whether they might stay there longer.

The reports also note it is in the best interest of the village that the businesses receive assistance to continue operating and providing job opportunities. Braun said the grants were the best way to help without incurring the liability of directly purchasing anything for the restaurants.

“This arrangement would take the village outside of liability issues,” Braun said. 

Trustees said they supported the measures, but they also had questions about possible assistance for other businesses both downtown and elsewhere in the village. Trustee Joni Bradley-Scott, in particular, asked if the village should make efforts to reach out to businesses to see what they might need.

“They may not know to ask for help,” she said. “Should we extend an olive branch to ask other businesses? … If they need assistance, can we direct them to resources available?”

Braun said administrators could let the Flossmoor Business Association know the village is willing to help, if businesses have requests. The goal, he said, is to help Flossmoor’s restaurants find their footing as they adjust during the pandemic’s challenges.

“We’ll entertain that as it comes up,” he said.

Braun also encouraged people to wear masks when associating with others outside of one’s household and to practice social distancing as numbers around the country spike again. He reiterated a call to “flatten the curve” by also washing hands, avoiding nonessential travel and not touching one’s own face. He said taking necessary precautions will help everyone, including the village’s businesses, in the long run.

“Take responsibility for yourself,” he said.