The Kishwaukee River with a little help from her Mother Nature has its ways to command respect. Those living closest to her shores often receive the wrath for disrespect. That’s what worries Lee Newtson and other residents of Edgebrook Mobile Home Park in Sycamore.
They’ve seen debris building up in the river as it cuts a snarly path on its way by the mobile home park, under the Coltonville Road bridge, through a snake of twists and turns northward on its journey. Debris can cause flooding to occur with consequences that can be life threatening and/or expensive property damage.
Newtson has concerns about natural disasters. He puts in a lot of time volunteering and raising donations for families facing the aftermath of tragedies. Perhaps the issue of the Kishwaukee River debris is selfish as he is a resident of the mobile home park and he’d like to prevent a flood disaster before it happens.The debris has been collecting wind blown material from area construction. Residents have seen maintenance personnel cut down trees and throw the limbs in the river. It’s a problem by and for all of the surrounding neighbors.
Meetings have been held. A plan emerged that the neighbors and community could be proud of. Property owners along the river were notified that they were responsible for preventing their debris from getting into the river. The plan was for an excavation company to remove debris from this snarly section of the river. Each of the property owners would participate in the cost involved.
Newtson employed all of the proper channels. He contacted his alderman, Steve Braser, who told him to report it to the County. He emailed Jeff Metzger who referred him to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and he met with Conservation Police Officer Tony Lazzell about past flooding from the river, the debris blockage and needed removal.
But then Zeman Homes, owners of Edgebrook Mobile Home Park, informed the collective group that they would not participate in the costs of the clean up, according to Newtson. He says Zeman, through the park manager, said they might pursue damages against the other neighbors even though they were willing to pitch in and despite residents having witnessed the maintenance man throw limbs and debris into the river.
There are rules and regulations for living along the river. Enforcement, as always, is lacking.
Newtson’s last contact with Lazzell was not encouraging. He was informed that Lazzell was not allowed to disclose information about an investigation until the case has closed. Once the case has closed Newtson may submit a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) to the IDNR Office in Springfield. Lazzell will advise Newtson if a report was submitted when the investigation closes (not all cases require a report).
In the meantime it’s still flooding season and the debris is still collecting. Newtson and his neighbors remain worried that they may suffer the consequences of others’ inaction.
Zeman Homes is busy with another problem over at its Cortland Moble Home Park. But they should never be too busy to be a good neighbor and responsible property manager.
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