by Susan O’Neill
Mallard Point residents still had questions for the village on Tuesday night after project engineer Mark Bushnell explained the findings of his inspection of their storm water management system.
Bushnell, a project engineer with Trotter and Associates, said he found mud and overgrown vegetation blocking the water flow from the subdivision, causing the neighborhood’s drainage problems and flooding. Bushnell said the blockages are likely the work of beavers and muskrats.
Blockages of the structures created to allow the storm water to drain has increased the level of the subdivision’s retention pond two feet higher and the wetlands to the south two-and-a-half feet higher than they should be. Bushnell estimated that there are 17 acres of excess storm water in the area.
The Village Board agreed to hire a contractor or have public works employees remove six inches of the vegetation blocking the structure at the southern edge of the development to allow the water to drain slowly to the south.
Village President Sean Michels said he was reluctant to clear out the entire blockage at once, because this would flood the property to the south. This property, which includes the retention pond, belongs to long-time area resident and Police Chief Brad Sauer.
But Mallard Point residents present at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting wanted to know why the village did not do more to protect the homeowners when the development was initially built.
When construction began on the Mallard Point Subdivision in the early 1990s, the developer improved an existing wetland for use as a storm water management facility. The first developer went bankrupt, and construction was completed by another developer who took over the project.
Typically, a homeowners association regulates maintenance in the common areas of a subdivision and collects fees with which to pay for it. Although there was a clause in the annexation agreement for the creation of a homeowners association, one was never formed.
During previous meetings with the village, Mallard Point residents have complained of standing water, flooded basements and excessive electric bills to continually run two and sometimes three sump pumps.
â€œMistakes were made, and the village needs to take ownership,â€ said Blair Peters, who lives on Brookhaven Circle within the subdivision.
Trustee Mary Heineman said that unfortunately, the village is now learning from mistakes that were made at the time the subdivision was built.
Michels said that once the debris is removed, the next step would be to identify a list of items necessary for ongoing maintenance of the property.
â€œThis would give us the ability to price that out,â€ he said. â€œThen, we’ll see what is involved.â€
Village attorney Steven Andersson said there is a clause in the annexation agreement, which includes the Rolling Oaks Subdivision, that would allow the formation of a Special Services Area. Through the SSA, the village could charge residents an annual fee for the ongoing maintenance of the storm water system.
Trustee Mari Johnson said that although she sympathized with the Mallard Point residents, she wanted to make sure they understood that the trustees were not making a commitment for the village to fix the problem. She said there were a number of neighborhoods with drainage and flooding issues, and the village has to be fiscally responsible to the entire community.
Trustee Tom Renk said he believes it is the role of government to step in and take care of things that the residents cannot. Although he added that the homeowners have some responsibility for fixing the problems, he said he felt a commitment to work with them.
â€œA whole bunch of things have fallen through the cracks,â€ he said. â€œI think it’s our duty to follow through on this process.â€
However, he added that the village could not write a blank check.
After the meeting, trustee Kevin Geary, also a Mallard Point resident, said he did not think that anything was resolved. He said that during the most recent rain, he had three inches of water in his own basement, and he did not think that dropping the height of the blockage by six inches would take care of the problem.
â€œRight now, we’ve got residents whose basements are flooding,â€ he said. â€œIt’s a life-safety issue.â€
There are approximately 250 residences in Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks combined.