Residents of unincorporated Lake in the Hills breathed a sigh of relief Thursday night as trustees changed course and agreed to not sell the neighborhood’s water system.
In a 5-1 vote, trustees agreed to not sell the unincorporated water main system south of Algonquin and Pyott roads at their Thursday Village Board meeting and agreed to work together to devise a solution for a water system that is in dire need of replacement. On Wednesday, the neighborhood saw another water main break.
Trustee Ray Bogdanowski said not selling the water main system was one of the most difficult decisions the board has had to make.
In July 2017, Central States Water Resources approached staff about selling the system for $1, and it generated staff interest to sell, Bogdanowski said. There was a sense of urgency to sell based off fear that the water company would walk away, he said.
“I do feel there are integrity and moral issues here based on promises and intent from previous village boards,” Bogdanowski said. “The presentation given Tuesday showed me that residents affected by this have an understanding of the situation and are willing to work with us on resolving this.”
Trustee Stephen Harlfinger agreed to create a committee with unincorporated residents, village trustees, a member from the Algonquin Township Board and a member from the McHenry County Board.
Bogdanowski and Trustee Dave McPhee will serve on the committee, which will brainstorm solutions to make the water main system self-funded or maintained.
“Making the decision to sell the system is smart in the business sense, but the moral obligation weighs heavy for me having lived here pretty much my entire life,” Harlfinger said.
Unincorporated resident Rachel Zastrow said she is a bit daunted by the large amount of work ahead, but she is relieved.
“At the beginning, this did feel very sprung upon us with votes happening in a few days, so it felt like we were being picked on, and it created an adversarial relationship. But this has restored our faith in humanity that we can make a difference,” Zastrow said.
Trustee Suzanne Artinghelli voted in favor of the sale. She said after strategic planning was done in the fall, the biggest goal was to shorten the village’s finances, and the sale was a way to reduce costs.
“I feel that my responsibility is to the residents – the voters – and I don’t want to saddle them with any additional cost,” Artinghelli said. “It’s not that I want people to not have water. The breaks like what happened [Wednesday] are going to keep happening, so it’s a viable solution in my mind.”
Artinghelli said she wished more residents came and spoke at meetings because she believed the public discussion was very one-sided.