Being a very proud resident of the village of Riverside for more than 25 years, I was totally amazed at what I heard and witnessed at the meeting held Thursday at P.J. Klem’s in Lyons with the village leaders, Corps of Engineers, IDNR and other powers that be regarding the Hofmann Dam project.
First, this project was sold to the residents under the guise of flood prevention, which everyone is in favor of regardless of where you live in the area or how you think it should be done. However, now that this project has started, the village, the Corps and all the bureaucrats involved have fully admitted that there has been bad information, misinformation and basically some very duplicitous actions.
They also have recently been adamant about the fact that this project will not provide any flood control, maybe in a few areas an inch or so. Yet half the residents and half the people that attended the meeting, for some unknown reason, are unable to understand these words.
We must all be speaking different versions of English. So in order to clarify this I will introduce a third version of English with common definitions to these words “removal of Hofmann Dam will not prevent flooding,” which means “removal of Hofmann Dam will not prevent flooding.” There, now that we all are speaking the same language, let us move on.
The bureaucrats have done a good job of dividing the community to serve their purpose. So it looks like this project is going through regardless of consequences. Keep in mind now that our leaders have their hands on that $7 million budget and you can bet they intend to spend it “come hell or high water.” I had to say that!
There has been no real consideration given to the effects it would have on Olmsted’s entire plan, definitely no consideration to property owners whose properties are directly impacted financially let alone historically.
Nor have they budgeted for any of the potential unknowns, which is a bureaucrat’s way of doing things. Let us remember that Riverside is a jewel of a community with its splendid parks, treasured streets and painted lady houses.
Situated around the foundation of Riverside is the winding Des Plaines River. This is the heart of our community. Now we all know that once this project is over the bureaucrats will move on, the Corps and the IDNR will be on to the next project and we as a community are awarded with the after effects and destruction.
At the core of this destruction is Maplewood Road. I happen to live on Maplewood Road, literally in the river. Maplewood is a very unique street in the village for those of you who don’t know.
It is home to 20 or so homes that line the east bank of the river and contribute to the brilliance of what we all admire about Olmsted and his vision of keeping us in balance with nature.
Fifteen of these homes on Maplewood have seawalls or what one would call retaining walls. When the dam is removed and the water level drops, all the foundations will be exposed to the winter icing and thawing just like a house foundation. This is why you keep water away from your foundation. Seawall foundations, however, are designed to constantly be submerged so as not be affected by this icing thawing phenomena.
So what will happen to these homes after everyone is gone? Over time the foundations and seawalls will crumble along with the stairs and patios because of their new exposure. It will become an eyesore and another hatching area for mosquitoes and stench, because of the newly exposed mudflats adjacent to these residences that will also accompany this man made destruction.
Let’s address the issue of debris. As we all know we have huge fluctuations in water levels at least a dozen times a year. Every time this happens we see a tremendous amount of logs and debris being swept along the river. Currently these logs and debris flow right on through to the dam. With the narrowing and lowering of the river levels, the logs and debris will jam up all along the river. So have we budgeted for this additional maintenance? Of course not!
Not just the homeowners but all the residents of our village will lose a very special part of our community that will now become a blighted landscape. So not only can we credit ourselves for defacing a part of Riverside, but be proud of our actions as good stewards ignoring these historical properties because we as a community have a better vision then old man Olmsted.
In addition, we can also be proud of our village leaders and their posse to divide and conquer leading us down this path. When you put this all together we obtain property destruction, blight, stench of the newly created mudflats, mosquito infestation, log and debris jams, and to top it off no flood prevention. So where is the upside?
Sometimes I think our village leaders have aspirations of Springfield, where projects mean money and money means power. Springfield is where, I am sure, they would fit right in. After all this is Illinois! I personally will go off into the sunset saying, “I remember when.” And maybe with a little luck, I’ll run into old man Olmsted in the next life. If I do, I can tell him I tried, and then we can talk about the flood of 2014!
Jeff Baron is a resident of Riverside who owns the property often referred to as “The Boathouse.”