North Aurora OKs studying removing dam
If the state wants to pay for a study about knocking down the North Aurora dam, the village board is for it.
The board Monday approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Fox Valley Park District and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
According to the deal, the state agrees to pay up to $500,000 for an engineering study to see how the dam could be removed, how it would affect the Fox River, and how the millrace behind village hall could be saved.
"The key to this is it is really at our own discretion," Village Manager Steve Bosco said. He stressed that approving a study does not mean the village has decided to take out the dam.
The IDNR will pay for the study once all parties have signed the agreement. The park board will vote on it at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Cole Center, 101 W. Illinois Ave., Aurora.
IDNR spokesman Chris Young said the state has set aside another $2.5 million to remove the dam, but won't "obligate" the money until a plan is designed and a contract is let.
Trustee Laura Curtis voted against the measure. She said she was "shocked" to learn removing the dam could cost $3 million, even if it would be the state paying the bill, not the village.
"Is this something are we going to get $3 million worth of benefits from?" she asked. She said the money could be better used for other items, such as burying electrical power lines along Route 31 through the village. "We should be pursuing other projects."
Trustee Chris Faber noted, however, that the state is not offering up money for other projects. Faber is a member of the North Aurora River District Alliance, a nonprofit group looking to improve North Aurora's downtown and riverfront.
Bosco said engineering must be finished within 18 months of all parties signing the agreement. The next step is for the village and the park district is to decide what's needed in the engineering report.
"There is a long way between now and if and when the dam is ever removed," Village President Dale Berman said.
The current dam was built in 1975. It is a 375-foot run-of-the-river lowhead dam.
In 2007, the IDNR released the "Evaluation of Public Safety At Run-of-the-River Dams" report. It recommended full or partial removal of the North Aurora dam. State officials believe most of the dams are no longer needed, and that removing them would improve the safety and environmental health of the Fox River.