Tag Archives: Brad Sauer

Sauer named interim KC Coroner

by Cheryl Borrowdale
SUGAR GROVE—Retired Sugar Grove Police Chief Brad Sauer will reprise his role as an investigator for the next four months, as he steps into the role of interim Kane County Coroner.

Sauer was sworn in as interim coroner on Aug. 14, after the Kane County Board approved his selection by Board Chairperson Karen McConnaughay. Sauer, who retired from the Sugar Grove Police Department on July 1, will serve out the remainder of the term of Charles West, the former Kane County Coroner who died on July 4 and had been under indictment for official misconduct.

McConnaughay said Sauer was the “most well-rounded candidate,” citing his 24 years in the Police Department, including nearly a decade as police chief; his six years as a Kane County Board member between 1990 and 1996; and his stint as president of the Kane County Forest Preserve.

“There were 10 or 11 candidates, and they had a wide variety of backgrounds and were all good candidates,” McConnaughay said. “I thought that because Brad Sauer had a background in law enforcement and in county government and in administration, he was the best qualified for the position.”

Sauer will hold the office through Dec. 1, when he will be replaced by the winner of the Nov. 6 election. The two candidates running for the coroner’s position are DuPage County Sheriff’s Deputy Rob Russell, a Republican, and Tao Martinez, an Aurora Democrat and founder of ArchAngels BioRecovery, a company that decontaminates death scenes following accidents, suicides, homicides and other deaths.

In the meantime, Sauer said he hopes to prepare the coroner’s office so that there is a smooth transition between administrations.

“Really, not even a week into the job, I’m still trying to sort out quite a few thing and try to determine what is the biggest task so that I can leave the office in the best possible position for whoever the person is who starts Dec. 1,” Sauer said. “I want to try to get as much accomplished as possible to help out the office, try to make it accountable to the citizens of Kane County and make it run smoothly. The goal is to winnow the chaff from the grain and set priorities.”

Though Sauer said he considers the Coroner’s Office to be both a law enforcement position and an investigative position, he said it is different from his role as a police chief.

“The police department tries to find the people that caused the death, while the coroner’s office tries to find out the cause of death, and we let the police department go from there,” Sauer said. “For me personally, it’s working with the chief deputy coroner and the deputies and trying to determine what needs to be done in the investigation to come up with the answers that we’re looking for.”

Though Sauer will receive a pension for his years in the Police Department, his position as interim coroner will not increase that pension or make him eligible to receive a second pension, he said.

“I’m not taking any pension, not taking any health insurance or anything, just what the board determines is the starting wage for the coroner,” Sauer said. “It’s not adding to a county pension, and the (police) pension which I will be getting one of these days (as soon as the paperwork goes through) is from downstate. They can’t mix. You have to have seven years to be vested in the county, and I only had six (when I was a board member). The few months I will be here won’t be enough to make it seven years, so I can only get back what I put in originally. We got it straightened out that I wasn’t trying to collect two different pensions.”

Village welcomes interim police chief

by Cheryl Borrowdale
SUGAR GROVE—Interim police chief Ron Moser has been on the job for just a week, but he already has several goals in mind for the Sugar Grove Police Department.

Among them are doing more emergency management exercises within the department, as well as potentially creating a citizen volunteer program to help during emergencies.

Moser said other priorities include continuing training initiatives, which will include officers using the shooting range at the St. Charles Police Department for training exercises, as well as expanding citizens’ notification efforts through electronic means. The Sugar Grove Police Department will also potentially be looking at upgrading or replacing in-car video equipment, he said.

“The village has established action plans for the department, so I have those goals already,” Moser said. “I’m also trying to make a smooth transition for the next chief, and I want to have good internal communication with officers and staff and to foster good working relationships within the department and with allies, citizens and elected officials.”

Village President Sean Michels welcomed Moser to his new position on July 17, when he swore Moser in before the Village Board.

“The village is extremely glad to have Chief Moser on board,” Michels said. “The trustees and I feel that he will be a perfect fit in this interim period as we work toward a plan for the future and work through the hiring process.”

Michels praised Moser’s long career in law enforcement, which he has worked in since 1977, noting that he has outstanding credentials and a thorough knowledge of disaster planning. He started his career as a patrol officer in the Rock Island Police Department, and after stints in Peoria and San Jose, Calif., he moved to Ottumwa, Iowa, where he served as police chief. Moser came to Hanover Park, Ill., in 1998, where he was police chief for 11 years. He then served as the village’s manager for three years, until his retirement on June 14, 2012.

“Chief Moser will be an integral part of the day-to-day Police Department operations and aid us in determining what will be required of a departmental leader. We urge everyone to welcome Chief Moser to our community,” Michels said.

Though Moser lives in Hanover Park, he said he is familiarizing himself with Sugar Grove.

“As a community, my first impression is that this is a nice place to live,” he said. “The elected officials have been very pleasant and welcoming, and the officers show a real willingness to work with me.”

Moser said he expects to serve as the interim chief for up to a year, as the village begins searching for a permanent replacement for Brad Sauer, who retired on June 28 after serving as Sugar Grove’s police chief for a decade and working in the department for 24 years.

Pat Doyle, secretary for the Sugar Grove Police Department, credited Sauer with overseeing a dramatic expansion of the department, which went from six officers to 18, during his tenure as chief.

“We hired more police officers, purchased more cars, upgraded our computer system, and converted the garage to the officers’ squad room,” Doyle said. “He really increased the staff and modernized things.”

The search for a permanent replacement for Sauer hasn’t begun yet, Doyle said, because of the upcoming village election in April.

“They’re going to wait until the next election’s over,” she said. “It depends on who’s elected village president.”

Throughout both the election and the replacement process, Moser said that his goal is to keep the Sugar Grove Police Department on a steady path.

“My main departmental focus will be to maintain stability and continuity in police operations to help ensure that, when a chief is selected, there will be a seamless transition,” he said.

Down the drain?

Sugar Grove ends Mallard Point drainage negotiations
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The solution to the drainage problems in the Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks subdivisions in Sugar Grove just became more complex.

Two months after the Village Board approved four resolutions for improvements and an extension of the drainage system in the two subdivisions, Village President Sean Michels announced on Jan. 4 that the village was walking away from a deal with the Rob Roy Drainage District No. 2 and three land owners (one of which is the family of Sugar Grove Police Chief Brad Sauer) to allow for the installation of a pipe—18 inches in diameter and 8,800 feet long—that would convey water from the subdivisions to the Drainage District ditch located near Jericho Road and Route 30.

The landowners were involved in the deal because the pipe would have to travel through their property to reach the Drainage District’s concrete ditch. The Sauer family owns the largest of the three properties.

The cost of the project was estimated at $1.7 million, with Kane County slated to kick in $171,000 toward that cost. The Drainage District, during the last 17 months, has spent in excess of $100,000 in engineering and legal fees related to the project, according to Drainage District President Mike Fagel.

“The position of the village is that we’ve reached the end of our negotiations. We negotiated with the Sauers and the Rob Roy Drainage District and could not come to terms,” Michels said. “Therefore, the village is moving on to look for other alternatives to rectify the situation and help out the residents with their drainage issue.”

Michels, who has been village president since 1999, cited control of drain tile (after installation), price of easement and wetlands as reasons why the village chose to end negotiations.

“The big (reasons) are (with) the Sauers. With Rob Roy, it was the permitting process and some of the fees that they were requesting,” he said. “We had been negotiating since May with Rob Roy and since August with the Sauers, and in late December when we received final proposals (from them), that was when the village made the decision to move in another direction.”

According to Fagel, the Drainage District on Dec. 26 agreed to waive the $18,000 connection fee. The district maintained that the village should pay for engineering costs, with a $10,000 cap.

“The permit process protects all of us, but we do not want to stand in the way of this project,” Fagel said.

Mallard Point resident Jim Stone spoke during public comment at the Village Board meeting on Jan. 17, stating his frustration over the fact that the village didn’t send out a hard-copy letter to notify residents of its intention to cease negotiations with the Sauer family and the Drainage District. Instead, the village sent out e-mails to Mallard Point residents who had signed up to receive electronic notices from the village.

Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said during the meeting that the e-mail-only notification was “maybe an oversight.”

“The fact that they pulled out of the agreement … that’s just pathetic,” Stone later said. “My basement is in horrible shape (because of flooding), and so are a lot of other basements in this subdivision.”

Mallard Point drainage concerns
documented 20 years ago

A letter from attorney Bruce A. Brown, representing Rob Roy Drainage District, to attorney Leonard Stoecker, dated July 21, 1992, states, “The drainage district is obviously concerned that the proposed development could unduly burden the downstream landowners and the drainage district system. In view with past contracts with this developer, we are also concerned that this project may be an ‘on again, off again’ proposition.

Brown urged the Village Board to reconsider their position on the project in light of the “drainage problems in (the) plan.”

A document from former village engineer/administrator Joe Wywrot to the Plan Commission, dated Feb. 10, 1995, states, “Based on wetland requirements, a number of lots in Mallard Point “are not buildable. The plat should indicate that the wetland in the area is to be mitigated if that is (the) intention.”

According to Fagel, developers in 1993 installed Mallard Point Unit 1 detention pond without the inclusion of a bypass pipe to reconnect a damaged drain tile at the location. A document dated April 7, 1998, from then-Village Engineer Brian L. Schiber states, “As a reminder, we are still awaiting the completion of the drain tile replacement around the wetlands.”

So, why wasn’t the bypass tile ever installed? According to Sugar Grove Township Supervisor Dan Nagel, an effort to install the pipe resulted in workers digging into running sand, which halted the project for good.

Kane County take
facilitator role in talks

In spring 2009 Kane County began serving as facilitator among all three negotiating sides in the deal to fix the drainage issue once and for all. Board representative Drew Frasz (Dist. 26-Elburn), the point man during these talks, said the board has a relationship with both the village and Drainage District, and wants to see the flooding issue through to the end.

“(The negotiations) have been a continual forward movement in a positive direction. It’s been slower than I would’ve liked to see it, but that’s just the necessity of getting all the facts down and engineering right,” he said. “Our goal was to communicate with all parties, find out what’s important to them and what they can bend on.”

Frasz said the 800-pound gorilla in the room during negotiations was the fact that, even if the three sides found a solution to the drainage issue, there wasn’t a funding mechanism to make it happen. Kane County then acquired a stimulus fund (otherwise known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act) of approximately $16,800,000 in fall 2009.

“Chairman (Karen) McConnaughay proposed that we make this funding available to any governmental agency in Kane County, to be used on drainage- and water-related projects,” Frasz said. “The Mallard Point issue was the impetus for that idea and, of course, the prime project that we wanted to fund with that money.”

Fagel said Kane County has been a true partner to the Drainage District in these negotiations.

“The County Board Chair, County Board member Drew Frasz and the Water Resources department have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us in the investigation, solution, financing and potential resolution (of the drainage issue),” he said.

As part of the deal, the Drainage District was slated to receive a $330,000 loan out of recovery bonds from the county.

“Those bonds have to be paid back, but it’s long term, low interest,” Frasz said.

If the drainage project is completed, Mallard Point residents will pay 50 percent of the project’s cost over 20 years.

The Sauer family was set to receive $275,000 from the village for the easement. Frasz said that during the negotiations, the village did not express a concern with the dollar amount.

According to Frasz, Sauer himself owns a small parcel of wetland on the north end of his family’s property and is willing to donate that land to the village as part of the easement deal.

Sauer said that he did not want to directly comment on the negotiations.

Letters from the Sauer family and Rob Roy Drainage District, including a cover letter from Kane County, were delivered to Village Hall on Tuesday. All three letters urged the village to reconsider its stance and re-enter negotiations with the other two sides.

“It’s entirely up to the village to decide if they want to move forward (with negotiations). As far as (Kane) County’s position, I’ve made it clear all along that the county is not ready or willing to give up on this project or the residents, whether they are in the municipality or in the unincorporated areas,” Frasz said. “We want to get the project done and we want to get it done this year. It’s really the village’s call … we ask them to look at the current situation, which is greatly improved, and reconsider jumping back into this thing with both feet.”

Letter: Frequently asked questions about Rob Roy Drainage Districts

The district sent a mailing to all property parcel owners regarding the requests for maintenance to the courts for August 2011.

The district has asked for a flat rate of $10 per residential parcel for its annual maintenance assessment, as well as $5.14 per acre on agricultural lands, an amount that has not changed since 1979, when the assessment was set at approximately $1 per acre.

In 2009 and 2010, properties were assessed at 3.87 cents per property pin number.

From 1980 to 2009, there were zero assessments being made to keep this district operational.

The situation changed in 2008 when events not in control of the district occurred that required our attention.

Additionally, through the efforts of Kane County, the district has been able to participate in a larger county bond issue for us to borrow money from the bond, guaranteed by the farm properties in the agricultural lands annual repayment assessment of $6.73 per acre over 20 years to effect repairs to the district’s tile system, which has been in place since 1906.

There will be zero dollars assessed to the residential property owners for the bond repayment program.

Questions can be directed to the district office, at Rob Roy Drainage District II, P.O. Box 465, Sugar Grove, 60554.

Thank you.
Mike Fagel,
Scott Jesseman,
Brad Sauer
Rob Roy Drainage District

Village create working relationship with Red Cross

SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday voted 5-0 on a resolution authorizing the board to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the American Red Cross (ARC).

According to a document from Bradley Sauer, Sugar Grove chief of police, the purpose of the MOU is to create a working relationship between the ARC and the village in response and preparation to disaster situations at all levels, and also assisting emergency response efforts.

Preparation helps village handle record snowfall

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove village officials intent on keeping local roads clear and village residents safe during wintertime had their work cut out for them last Tuesday and Wednesday, thanks to over 20 inches of snowfall.

Despite concerns about whether the village had enough personnel to man snowplows to handle the intense snowfall—and whether residents would heed the village’s warning to stay off the roads—the village was able to get through the storm’s aftermath without any serious incidents, which is a testament to how prepared the village was for the dramatic snowfall.

“You have to give Public Works Director Anthony Speciale credit. He wanted to be prepared for the big snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, so he started putting (employees) on 12-hour shifts on Monday,” Village President Sean Michels said. “Those guys were out throughout the whole night (on Tuesday).”

“I thought we were well prepared for the storm. We had snow chains installed on our front-line ambulances and our rescue squadron engine on the Tuesday morning before the storm, and they helped tremendously with what we had to deal with,” Sugar Grove Fire Chief Marty Kunkel said. “We cover 34 square miles, and it’s all wide-open spaces. We were really busy during the heavy period (of the snowstorm) between 7 p.m. (Tuesday) and midnight.”

Kunkel said the department had three ambulance calls during that five-hour span, and then stranded motorists started to arrive at the Fire Department, which served as a warming center during the snowstorm.

“We ended up with 20 people spending the night here,” he said. “We weren’t really prepared to have them spend the night—no cots or anything—but we provided them with blankets, water, pop, a warm place to sit, and then we went and got breakfast for them in the morning. The last person probably left around 4 p.m.”

According to Michels, there were a couple of instances during the storm when plow truck drivers had to deviate from their route and lead police and ambulances out to Route 56 in order to bring in stranded motorists.

“I think they picked up three people on one trip and then picked up two people on another,” Michels said. “A few of the motorists were stranded right by the Galena Boulevard ramp.”

A family from Canada was stranded overnight on Dugan Road, north of Route 30. However, that family was in a camper and wasn’t in any serious danger.

“They were extremely happy to see the plow truck pull up,” Michels said.

There was also a stranded motorist who was rescued by DeKane Sno-Trackers snowmobilers
Michels hopes to meet with Kunkel, Speciale and Police Chief Brad Sauer to talk about the possibility of having snowmobiles on standby for when the village needs to go out during a winter storm and search areas where people could be stranded.

Michels also wants to suggest the addition of light bars onto the Dodge Dakota pickup trucks that serve as vehicles for the Public Works Department. The Sugar Grove Police Department used the trucks during the storm.

“We might want to get some lights on those trucks so that they can be used either as police vehicles or rescue vehicles,” he said. “Right now they don’t have any high lights on them.”

Kunkel said the Fire Department will look into having snowmobiles on standby, but he doesn’t believe they were necessary during the storm.

“I’m not sure (snowmobiles) are the best way to go, but we’ll certainly look at that,” he said.

Kunkel is also asking all Sugar Grove residents with a fire hydrant on their property to shovel out around the hydrant if it is in any way blocked or covered with snow.

Sugar Grove in step with amended FOIA

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday identified four Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officers, in compliance with the updated law, which went into effect Jan. 1.

As part of the new requirements, governmental bodies are required to appoint FOIA officers to respond to all future requests for information made through the FOIA process. The Village Board named Village Clerk Cindy Galbreath, Public Works Director Tony Speciale, Police Chief Brad Sauer and Community Development Director Rich Young as the village’s FOIA officers.

The Act requires that all information held by a public body be given to anyone who asks for it, with very few exceptions. One of these exceptions is private information, such as social security numbers, home or personal telephone numbers and personal e-mail addresses. Among other FOIA changes, public information requests will not have to be written on a village-specified form and can be submitted in a variety of ways, including verbally.

The new FOIA law also requires municipalities to provide the first 50 pages of public information free of charge, and can charge no more than 15 cents for each additional page. In addition, the law requires municipalities to provide public information electronically if requested, when it is available in that format. Municipalities must also provide the requested information within five working days, as compared to seven days under the old rules.

Recent concerns raised that the e-mail addresses of e-news recipients of a public body would no longer be considered private is not something Sugar Grove residents need to worry about, Galbreath said.

“Please rest assured that the village of Sugar Grove has always taken precautions to ensure that your e-mail address is private and remains private,” Village Clerk Cindy Galbreath wrote in an e-mail to residents. Galbreath said that Sugar Grove’s E-News database is grouped by geographic area and all addresses are classified as private.

To view Sugar Grove’s Freedom of Information Act procedures, visit www.sugar-grove.il.us/VFoiaListing.htm. To view the Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140/1), visit www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/government/index.html.

Galbreath said that if anyone has questions or concerns regarding the village’s policy, she can be reached at (630) 466-4507, ext. 24.

Fire leaves SG family with nothing

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—A fire in Sugar Grove last week left a Kaneland family homeless and two youngsters and their mom with nothing but the clothes they were wearing at the time.

The fire, which started in the garage of the Lawrence family’s townhome on Capital Drive on Aug. 5, gutted their home and did structural damage to their next door neighbor’s homes on both sides.

Jordyen, a Kaneland High School freshman, her brother Ryan, a sophomore, and a friend were home at the time. All three escaped the house unharmed. Sugar Grove firefighters rescued one of their cats, but the other is unaccounted for.

“It took an hour to get the fire under control,” Fire Chief Marty Kunkel said. “Unit C (the Lawrence’s home) will have to be torn down completely,”

Although the fire is under investigation, Kunkel said there is nothing suspicious about its origin.

Sugar Grove Police Chief Brad Sauer said that a number of people within the community have stepped up to help the family.

“It’s a bad time for this to happen,” Sauer said. “People are getting ready to go back to school. Just think of it. They literally had nothing left.”

Kaneland High School Assistant Principal Diane McFarlin has been in touch with Melissa Lawrence, the mom. The family is temporarily staying with some friends in the area.

McFarlin said that the family’s friends, neighbors and church community have all been ready, willing and able to help.

“It’s been awesome,” she said.

Castle Bank employee Lisa Lund said that since Melissa and her children are currently staying with friends, they are still in the process of figuring out what they need.

“She’s just pretty overwhelmed,” Lund said.

In an emergency, be self-sufficient

by Susan O’Neill
The village of Sugar Grove has a plan to protect its citizens from tornadoes and other emergency situations.

But Sugar Grove resident Michael Fagel, who has more than 30 years experience in public safety, law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire rescue and emergency management and helped create the plan, said people need to be responsible for their own actions first in a disaster.

“People can’t depend on the government in the time immediately following a disaster,” Fagel said. “They need to be prepared to handle emergency situations in their homes.”

Tornado season began in March and officially runs through July. But Sugar Grove Police Chief Brad Sauer said they can and do happen during any month of the year. Both Sauer and Fagel said that each household should have its own weather radio.

“If a tornado is sighted in the area, the emergency sirens are activated,” Sauer said. “But outdoor sirens are for people who are outside. You can’t hear it in your house.”

Sauer said the first thing an individual or family should do in the case of a tornado is to seek shelter.

“If they are already inside, they should go to the lowest level of the structure they’re in,” he said.

Family members should also have a plan for how they will contact each other during an emergency, Fagel said.

“Cell phones will collapse in a disaster,” he said. “If 30 people are in the same parking lot, 28 people will get a busy signal.”

Other preparations an individual or family can make ahead of time include answering the question, “If you had five minutes to leave your house, what would you need to be resilient and pick up the pieces?” said Fagel.

After spending time helping out in other locations during disasters, Fagel said he would be gratified to offer his assistance should it ever be needed in Sugar Grove.

“My goal is to make people as safe and informed as possible,” he said.

Residents seek flooding resolution

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.

“Mistakes were made, and the village needs to take ownership,” 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.

“This would give us the ability to price that out,” he said. “Then, we’ll see what is involved.”

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.

“A whole bunch of things have fallen through the cracks,” he said. “I think it’s our duty to follow through on this process.”

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.

“Right now, we’ve got residents whose basements are flooding,” he said. “It’s a life-safety issue.”

There are approximately 250 residences in Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks combined.

Flooding still problem for Mallard Point

2/12 updated: On page 7A of the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of the Elburn Herald, Sugar Grove resident Tom Scales’s comments were misconstrued. The flooding he referred to while describing children losing their shoes while walking on the grass was on the local baseball field, not in the yard of his home.

by Susan O’Neill
More than 100 residents of the Mallard Point subdivision in Sugar Grove attended a meeting on Tuesday called by the Village Board to listen to flooding and drainage concerns. One by one, the residents located their lot on a map of the subdivision and told their specific problems.

Most said they had sump pumps that either never shut off or that run every few minutes. A number of residents said their basements flood every time it rains; others said they have yards with pools of standing water.

Tom Scales said there is so much flooding in his yard that his children lose their shoes in the grass the day after a rain.

For some, the problems have been ongoing. According to an Elburn Herald article in June 2000, resident Laurie Geary said that she and her husband had already had extensive work done to solve the drainage and flooding issues.

“Ten sump pumps later, we discovered our dream house is built on a water aquifer,” she said then.

For others, like Leo Brown, the problems are just beginning. Brown, who has lived in Mallard Point for 10 years, said his sump pump had cob webs in it for the first eight years. He said now it goes on all the time, with a substantial increase in his electric bill as well.

Problems with the subdivision date back to the mid-1990s, when Mallard Point was first built. After the first builder declared bankruptcy, two others took over before the development was finally completed. Difficulties determining who was responsible for what problems go back to the beginning.

Although the annexation agreement called for the establishment of a homeowners association, one was never created. There was also some discussion about establishing a special services area. This would have meant Mallard Point residents would have been charged an additional tax that would pay for maintenance of the property and other outstanding issues, but that did not take place, either.

According to Village President Sean Michels, the development was built with inappropriate grading, causing many of the flooding and drainage issues.

Brad Sauer, who owns the property directly to the south of the subdivision, said that Mallard Point’s drainage problems have destroyed the crops and made that land, once farmed, unusable.

“I know some people think I’m the bad guy,” he told the crowd gathered on Tuesday. “I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to fix the problem, so I’m with you. I want this problem fixed, too.”

Karen Romero, who lives on Brookhaven Circle, attended the Jan. 6 Village Board meeting to see if she could get any assistance from the village. Romero told the board her basement had flooded three times since the beginning of 2008.

She said when she initially approached village staff in October 2008, she was told the problem was a leak in the water line on her property, and it was her responsibility to fix it. She said it wasn’t until she had someone dig up her entire lawn that she discovered it was not where the problem was. She said she has been through three sump pumps and now the sewer line is backing up into her basement.

Romero said that so far, she has spent about $5,000 trying to fix the problem on her own. The last tradesperson she hired told her it was a drainage issue.

“I just don’t want other people to have to pay all this money like I did,” she said.

Trustee Kevin Geary, who owns a home in Mallard Point with his wife Laurie, said he did not feel the village had been responsive to Romero’s concerns and those of other Mallard Point residents. He and village presidential candidate Perry Clark held a meeting with residents several weeks ago.

“I’ve been getting phone calls from everyone,” Geary said. “My opinion is that the village did not want to be bothered with it.”

Village attorney Steve Andersson said the Village Board has asked him to research what the rights and responsibilities are for both the village and the landowners, including the Mallard Point residents and Sauer.

Although several residents said they wanted a timeframe in which the village thought the problem could be solved, village officials were reluctant to set one.

Trustee Mary Heineman said she has spent 12 hours so far talking to people and reading through previous meeting minutes to get a better sense of the problems. She asked the residents for their patience while the village takes steps to come up with both short-term and long-term solutions.

“While I know you all want a timeline, we don’t know the extent of the problem, so we can’t determine how long it will take,” trustee Melisa Taylor added.

Andersson said he will review the annexation agreement, and work with the engineers to determine the problems, as well as attempting to determine what is village-owned and what is not.

The Village Board is expected to approve a contract with the engineering firm Trotter & Associates at its next board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 3, to evaluate the problems.