Almost a year ago, Riverside received the news that after a decade of waiting around for funding, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers had finally received the go-ahead to move forward with the removal of the Fairbank and Hofmann dams and the re-grading of Swan Pond Park.
Great news. Obsolete, dangerous dams would be removed to restore the waterway. Swan Pond Park – a morass of weeds and stagnant water after recent floods – would be getting some much-needed attention.
Work to remove the Fairbank Dam was to begin in December/January with Hofmann Dam coming out in 2012. Progress. Finally.
Where are we a year later? In a holding pattern as the Army Corps of Engineers decides whether the demolition contractor’s work plan for the Fairbank Dam passes muster. Meanwhile, final plans for the notching of the Hofmann Dam and re-grading of Swan Pond continue behind closed doors over at the Army Corps.
As of Monday night, village officials still hadn’t seen those plans, which are supposedly going out to bid by the end of the month.
Earlier this year there were two meetings involving the Army Corps and IDNR in Riverside and neither shed a whole lot of light on what actually was going to happen once work crews arrived on the scene.
It’s high time for those agencies to begin opening up the process and letting in a little sunlight. Riverside deserves to know exactly what the hold up is all about and exactly when this work is going to begin – if it ever does.
Riverside, which has been mighty patient in the face of much Army Corps dithering, deserves to see – and give input on – the final plan for the notching of the Hofmann Dam and especially on the plan to improve drainage in Swan Pond Park, which is after all not a federally controlled waterway, but part of Riverside proper. Not just part of Riverside, but a critical element in the landmark design of the village.
We still believe in the concept that removing the dams will in time improve the conditions on the Des Plaines River, both ecologically and recreationally. We believe that in time the re-aligned banks of the river above the Hofmann Dam will be lined with native vegetation and not become the mud-flat eyesore predicted by some detractors of the project.
But the performance of the Army Corps to date in getting this smallest aspect of the project off the ground does not inspire a whole lot of confidence. The fact that the Army Corps has now pulled the initial project manager off the project (temporarily, they say) does not inspire confidence either.
It’s time for some information, solid information, to start coming from the Army Corps and for Riverside to begin flexing whatever muscle it still has to begin getting the information it needs and the giving the input it requires.