Kirkland officials explain water retention project, IEPA loan rationale
KIRKLAND – After the village of Kirkland built a subdivision on prohibited wetlands decades ago, the Village Board is seeking public comment on obtaining a $934,698 water pollution control loan through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
As part of the loan’s requirement, the board held a public meeting Thursday night at the Kirkland Municipal Building about creating a better water retention area near Bull Run Creek in the Kirkwood subdivision. Village trustee Mary Micele was absent.
Chad Clauson, staff engineer for Fehr Graham and the village’s engineer, said the project would improve water quality, provide wildlife habitat and help protect homes from flooding.
“We’re basically just digging a hole along Bull Run Creek to provide area for floodwaters to go to in the event of flooding so that it wouldn’t go into buildings or anything else in that area,” Clauson said.
Village President Ryan Block said homes were built on the marshland when they really shouldn’t have been from 1993 to 1998. He said the state’s Department of Natural Resources, IEPA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency repeatedly told village officials to stop building and selling houses in the high-risk floodplain, which is between the creek and Malta Road.
“I have no clue what [the village’s] motive was and why they continued to do so,” Block said.
Block said the tipping point for the village to finally return the wetlands to the area was the threat of IDNR and FEMA pulling the village’s flood insurance. He said that would mean shutting down its wastewater treatment plant.
Currently, water users are charged $17.65 every other month for the first 4,000 gallons of water used, plus $4.40 for each additional 1,000 gallons, according to IEPA documents. The village intends to add a flat fee of $14.54 as a line item for each water bill for stormwater capital improvements. The new charge would start May 1.
About ten members of the public attended the hearing. Only two questions about the location of the project and clarification that it is not eligible for tax increment financing funds were asked about the project. None of the attendees spoke outright in favor of or against the proposed project during the public hearing.
Kirkland resident Paul Naugle said he does not live in the affected area and would not be directly affected by the work. He said he came to the meeting to better understand the project and how it will affect residents financially, since revenue to pay back the funding is coming from their pockets.
“That’s probably everyone’s concern,” Naugle said.
Block said the public has until Jan. 27 to submit additional written comments to the board or the IEPA before the final documents are submitted to the state agency. He said next steps include getting the loan approved in time to start digging and clearing low brush and trees in March and completing the project