Residents of a Downers Grove subdivision and local officials remain at odds over the future of a pond that homeowners want to protect.
Village officials want to create a flowing, creek-like system by lowering the grade on the west side of the pond in O'Brien Park, allowing the water to circulate from east to west. The process, called naturalization, will help clear the sediment that would not clear out in a stagnant pond, thereby improving water quality, officials said.
But residents say that would essentially convert the pond to a marsh or swamp.
"Most of the residents around the pond have this fear of mosquitoes, West Nile (virus), rats, snakes, and we don't want that," said Louis Stankaitis, an engineer who resides on the west side of the pond. "On top of that, it affects the value of our homes, it affects the safety of our children."
The village is considering a $550,000 contract with Sycamore-based ENCAP Inc., which officials believe would lower groundwater slightly, but still maintain the pond.
During a meeting this month with Deputy Village Manager Michael Baker, residents said they would prefer to see the 35-year-old pond dredged, an option ruled out by the village in part because of its $950,000 price tag, and its need to be repeated every 10 to 20 years.
"It's a multifunctional pond," Stankaitis said. "We skate on it in the winter, the fishing is great."
But Baker said staff determined that naturalizing the pond was the best option in terms of cost, long-term maintenance and storm water functionality. While the process means people could no longer fish in the waterway, he said he would not describe it as a marsh or swamp.
"It's going to have the appearance of a naturally occurring waterway," Baker said.
Baker said that there is no set date for considering the contract and that staff would provide a written summary of the meeting with answers to the questions about environmental sustainability, how they determined the water level would not drop significantly and whether the $550,000 price tag is realistic. Residents also challenged the village's commitment to the area, noting that residents have mowed the grass and picked up trash in the past.
Baker said he understood the residents' point of view, noting that the village has performed maintenance at the site, much of it at the request of the nearby homeowners.
"We feel they're trying to appease us by listening to us," Stankaitis said after the meeting. "We feel they're going to go with naturalization."
Baker said no decision has been finalized.
"We haven't had the opportunity to see if the modifications residents proposed would be feasible," he said Monday. "We're certainly open to alternatives but we haven't totally discarded naturalization as the best long-term option."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun