Riverside mulls legal action on dam removal

Army Corps, IDNR called on the carpet

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By BOB UPHUES

Depending on what officials hear at a meeting scheduled for Thursday morning, the Riverside Village Board may consider taking legal action against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Illinois Department of Natural Resources for hiding figures that showed water levels will be lower than advertised once the Hofmann Dam is removed.

On Wednesday, Village Manager Peter Scalera sent out notice of a special meeting of the village board for Friday, April 27 at 6 p.m. at the Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road, to discuss "probable or imminent litigation" related to the Hofmann Dam project.

But the meeting could be avoided if representatives from the Army Corps and IDNR provide answers for why the agencies used one set of numbers regarding river flow and water levels during a public hearing back in September, and hid from view a second set of numbers that showed a potential greater impact to the river if the dam is removed.

"The [Friday] meeting is dependent on tomorrow's meeting with the Corps and IDNR," said Scalera. "The board will discuss the legal options available to the village if the concerns that have been raised are not properly addressed."

The village will be represented at the meeting by trustees Lonnie Sacchi and James Reynolds, Scalera and Public Works Director Edward Bailey. The Army Corps' project manager, Jeff Zuercher, will also be on hand, while Arlan Juhl and hydrologist Rick Goesch of the IDNR will attend by phone.

Also invited to the meeting were Maplewood Road residents Jeff Miller and William Anderson, Frederick Law Olmsted Society President Tim Ozga and Rich Rankin, representing the Riverside Residents for Flood Prevention.

"They're coming tomorrow to talk about the two numbers and why they are using one set of numbers over the other," Scalera said. "Our goal is to determine what the true impact will be to the river once the dam is notched."

Information about the second, lower, set of water flow figures was made public last week after Zuercher confirmed the alternate set of figures in an email exchange with Miller on April 19.

The revelation prompted Maplewood Road residents, many whose own homes are yards from the riverbank, to demand work be stopped pending an investigation and explanation. The Frederick Law Olmsted Society followed up on April 22 with its own call to suspend work until the matter was investigated.

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