CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake City Council members could not strike a deal with McHenry County officials to share maintenance costs for the concrete wall on Walkup Road, leaving the structure to remain in its current state.
City and county officials had been swapping financial deals for months to figure out which body should have primary responsibility for maintaining the 466-foot-long concrete wall on Walkup Road adjacent to Veteran Acres Park that was constructed as part of a road widening and bike path project.
The county initially proposed a 50-50 split that would cost both sides $37,000 with the city taking on all costs for future maintenance. City Council members – who never wanted the wall – said in May they should go for a better deal and countered with a 75-25 split that would cost the county $84,000 and city $28,000, with the county picking up future maintenance costs.
But the county recently responded with a less favorable option than its first proposal, calling for a 75-25 split that would keep the county’s contribution at $20,000 or less with the city to pay $92,000 and all future upkeep costs.
Crystal Lake Mayor Aaron Shepley said he hoped offering to share the cost of the decorative stone veneer would convince the county to pay for maintenance, but because it did not, the city will not add any beautification to the wall.
Because the city is not making modifications to the wall, the maintenance remains with the county.
“I have to say the perpetual maintenance by the city is a no vote for me,” councilwoman Ellen Brady Mueller said. “I’m not paying to maintain that wall for the rest of time.”
Councilman Brett Hopkins said he was disappointed a deal could not be made to improve the aesthetics of a wall that took a pleasant view from some residents.
“The wall to me right now is still offensive and it burns me we allowed it to be put in our town,” he said. “But at this point in time I’m not willing to pay for it.”
The proposed veneer would include materials that prevent moisture from penetrating the wall and make it easier to clean graffiti to minimize maintenance costs.
“I guess we negotiated against ourselves,” councilman Jeff Thorsen said.