2 million-gallon water storage tank not welcome in Vernon Hills neighborhood
Having water available in high demand or emergency situations is a good idea, but building a 2 million-gallon storage tank near a community park is not, contend residents in one Vernon Hills subdivision.
Residents of the Carriages at Grosse Pointe Village condo community bordered on the north side of Route 45, just east of the Mundelein village limit, are leading the charge against putting a 100-foot diameter reservoir -- a capped concrete structure mostly below ground -- just south of Carriage Green Park.
An online petition opposing the possibility is circulating, and residents led by Kathy Knapp last week attended village and park district board meetings to make the case against the site under consideration by the Lake County public works department.
"We understand they need water storage. We don't think this is the right location," Knapp said. She contends there are alternatives in town to a highly visible facility that would take up green space, result in the removal of mature trees and hurt property values.
Village officials agree.
"The water reservoir is absolutely needed in Vernon Hills," said David Brown, Vernon Hills' public works director/village engineer. While supportive, the village thinks there are "some other viable locations in town," he added.
So does the park district, which owns the land but is encumbered by an easement enacted around the time Lake Michigan water was extended to area communities in the early 1990s.
"We support the project but this just isn't the right location," said park district board President David Doerhoefer.
Residents want the county to abandon the easement to eliminate the site from future consideration.
Knapp said the spot south of the 8-acre park came up two years ago. Residents are surprised it has resurfaced given comments from then-county board Chairman Aaron Lawlor, who represented the area at the time but is no longer in office.
In an email, Lawlor told Knapp he had asked public works to eliminate Carriage Green Park as a possible site saying the reservoir would encroach on an "already undersized community park" and create potential for injury, accidents and liability.
In January, the Lake County Board authorized a $262,779 agreement for final engineering design service for a new Vernon Hills water system reservoir. Design and site selection is underway, according to county spokesman Alex Carr.
The county has been working with the village to review and evaluate several locations, he added. Carriage Green Park is one spot being considered but a final decision hasn't been made, he added.
"Why if former chairman Lawlor so clearly said, 'No,' and now all of a sudden they've flipped on it -- I'd really like to have someone from the county come in and explain that," village Trustee Thom Koch Jr., serving as mayor pro tem, said at the July 22 board meeting at which Knapp and others addressed the board.
As proposed, about 30 feet of the reservoir would be underground and 10 feet above ground. A pump building would also be constructed.
The Vernon Hills water system serves about 25,000 residents in the village and nearby area. More storage is needed to protect users in the event of increased demand, emergencies or disruptions, Carr said.
Late last year, for example, customers were asked to conserve water while the agency that supplies Lake Michigan water repaired one of its primary lines, he added.
"We think there are some other options and we need to continue the discussions with Lake County public works," Brown said.