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.
â€œTen sump pumps later, we discovered our dream house is built on a water aquifer,â€ 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.
â€œI know some people think I’m the bad guy,â€ he told the crowd gathered on Tuesday. â€œI’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to fix the problem, so I’m with you. I want this problem fixed, too.â€
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.
â€œI just don’t want other people to have to pay all this money like I did,â€ 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.
â€œI’ve been getting phone calls from everyone,â€ Geary said. â€œMy opinion is that the village did not want to be bothered with it.â€
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.
â€œWhile 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,â€ 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.