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Council, Residents Find Few Agreements on Valley View Pond Issue

Residents still uninterested in pond naturalization, maintain desire for dredging.

Much like during the , little common ground was found between village officials and residents concerning what to do with Valley View pond during Tuesday night's council meeting.

The pond, located in the Valley View Estates subdivision west of Main and north of 75th, suffers from poor water conditions, odors, algae blooms and more as a result from sediment buildup, waterfowl presence and a lack of substantial vegetation.

During the June 19 council meeting during a “workshop” session on the subject, the two primary options presented were to either dredge the pond at a village-estimated cost of nearly $1 million or “naturalize” the pond, converting it to a sustainable marshland for nearly half the estimated price of the dredging. Naturalizing the pond would stabilize the sediment, adding additional fill and native vegetation in order to make the pond aesthetically pleasing and ecologically sustainable. Village staff were in favor of naturalization and saving money while the subdivision's residents—many with property that backs up to the pond—wanted to dredge the pond, leaving its aesthetic makeup unchanged. The price difference between dredging and naturalization didn't phase the residents, who felt a dredging was long overdue anyway and the overall price was a relatively small price to pay to maintain the integrity of their neighborhood's centerpiece.

On Tuesday, the item shifted from being workshopped to being on the meeting agenda's “first read” portion, and village staff returned to the table again pushing for the naturalization, this time with a motion to award a design-build contract to ENCAP, Inc. in the amount of $538,740.50 for the naturalization of the pond. Village staff maintained dredging of the pond would need to be repeated on a 20-30 year cycle in order to maintain the open water pond the residents want, which they felt limited the dredging option's long-term sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

However, even though naturalization was still the primary recommendation, village staff also presented other options for what to do with the pond. “Option 2”, as it was referred, consisted of dredging the pond and implementing a Special Service Area to pay for the incremental cost of dredging. The SSA would create an additional amount that would be levied on the property tax bills for all of the properties within the SSA boundaries. The third option presented would consist of conveying the pond property—which the village ended up in control of as a result of litigation in 1988—to the residents of the subdivision, leaving them to pick up the tab in full for all pond-related maintenance. In that scenario, the village would convey the property and give a one-time financial contribution to the homeowners association created to take ownership of the pond.

Most council members stressed their preference for naturalization but maintained they were keeping an open mind about other options, particularly options involving an SSA.

“I do believe that naturalizing the pond is the most sustainable option,” said commissioner Becky Rheintgen. “I just don't feel comfortable using public tax dollars to maintain a private pond. If the residents truly want it, I think they should pay to maintain it.”

While a couple of residents were curious about the SSA option and wanted more information, others were still set on dredging, going so far as to solicit their own quotes from independent contractors on how much the dredging would cost. One resident told council members an independent contractor he had come out and give a quote for the dredging said the dredging could be done “well within” the $500,000 parameter set by the naturalization cost. When residents heard that, a lot of subsequent comments throughout the evening conveyed a distrust of the village's dredging estimate of just under $1 million.

Much of the discussion throughout the night highlighted philosophical differences of opinion between the residents and the village. The residents view it as a pond (and occasionally a lake), a selling point of their home, and a community gathering space where they can fish and ice skate. The village sees the pond as a stormwater detention pond and little more. The residents view it as a public pond that everyone in Downers Grove is welcomed to enjoy. The village sees it as a private feature of the subdivision that most residents of Downers Grove doesn't know exists and will probably never see.

The pond itself was man-made by the developer of the subdivision in the 1970s as a way to meet detention requirements and as a feature that could be marketed to potential homeowners. It was agreed upon during construction that if the developer installed the pond to the standards the demanded the park district would take ownership of the pond. When it was installed, there was a dispute between the park district, village and developer on whether or not those standards were met, and the park district never took ownership.

After nearly two hours of discussion, village staff were instructed to flesh out the SSA options for the residents and answer any lingering questions before the next council meeting in August.

Robert Bykowski July 18, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Something is definitely going to be done about the pond. Whether it's dredging or naturalization, I don't know, but the village seems fully committed to fixing the issues with the pond one way or the other.
Bob Barnett July 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Yes, the Village does “naturalize” similar troubled ponds or creeks – even on the North side ;-). And no, the Village generally does not dredge, clean and rebuild ponds. There is existing policy, adopted in 1995 and signed by then Mayor Cheever which specifically says “That it shall be the policy of the Village to preserve wetlands and natural stream configurations in the Village in order to utilize inherent water cleansing action and flood control potential, and to protect wildlife habitats, in accordance with Chapter 26 of the Downers Grove Municipal Code.” That’s what naturalization would do at this basin. The policy can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/NAeFtI Related ordinance here: http://bit.ly/NXKDCv The AWPA notes that “… Undisturbed land or land returned to a natural state through native landscaping, enables greater stormwater infiltration which, in turn, minimizes runoff, erosion, and potential for downstream pollution. “ More on this can be found at AWPA’s website. Continued …
Bob Barnett July 19, 2012 at 12:00 AM
… continued Recent examples of this on the North side of town include the area adjacent to Orchard Brook along the West side of Main Street, the detention area at approximately 40th and Glendenning and the recently constructed facility at 2nd and Cumnor. The policy is clear, long standing and reflects what are generally accepted best management practices for storm water basins. Barth Pond is one exception – it will be dredged at some point in the future at the Villages expense – but that is only because of an old, pre-existing agreement with the Park District – one we likely would not voluntarily enter into again. As Mr. Bykowski said, your Village is committed to reclaiming the effectiveness of this basin for storm water management – it serves a fairly large watershed beyond the immediately adjacent homes. The question before us is how best to proceed in light of the adjacent neighbor requests, immediate costs, long term “life-cycle” costs, best management practices, and storm water runoff quality and future maintenance responsibilities. Hope this helps. Bob Barnett
Dawn Tuskey July 19, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I feel empathy and compassion for the Valley View Pond (VVP) homeowners. Their situation is one more negative straw on an already overloaded & overburdened, middle-class, camel. As we all have painfully learned since 2009, paying more for a pond-side home (or any home) does not, sadly, translate into a guarantee of that pond-side home keeping or growing into a higher market value through the years. VVP's point of view is valid ... but for an economy, home value, and middle-class, world that no longer exists. In my humble but compassionate opinion, the Village is being fair & reasonable. "Compromise" has been the key to American success where others have failed. To have a "my way or the highway" stance on this issue could leave all VVP homeowners with no resemblence to the type of help they need or want. For any money in excess of the Village's solution for an immediate & long-term fix would be fiscally irresponsible at best. As I said earlier, I believe VVP homeowners have valid points of view but their solutions are for a social mindset & economy that no town can afford any longer. Hopefully, they will take an offer and run instead of risking being empty handed. I would think that a win for all DG redidents.
Georgia March 29, 2013 at 04:45 PM
The town is taking all the sediment and clean up from the watersheds and pushing it upstream in Prentiss creek by woodward and 63 rd. Then the town plans on getting rid of most of our water and doing plant lands. Which is basically a forest preserve! The town originally said they were going to do a wetland restoration this would reduce sediment. How is getting rid of practically all of our water and planting seeds everywhere wetland restoration? The homeowners in Beverly Glen didn't get questions and answers posted on the town website. I love how the town uses our backyard for their dumping grounds. Thanks for lowing the values of our home!

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