Lakewood Village President Paul Serwatka Reflects on Last Meeting and Future

From Lakewood Village President Paul Serwatka:

In dealing with all the flooding issues, I’m just finding time to report on our last village board meeting of 7/25/17. This was a very long meeting, lasting nearly four hours, with several significant issues I want to report on. To do this more effectively, I will need to provide this report with a few follow-up installments.


Present at our last meeting were engineers from both firms involved in the design of our sewer system and lift station, as well as our Public Works Supervisor, Wastewater Operations Supervisor and a representative from the contracting firm that was authorized to begin assessing the 95 manholes in the east side of Lakewood.

Mike Walter, the engineer who designed the new sewage treatment lines and pumping station, Baxter and Woodman’s engineer and representative of the firm that is going to examine each of old Lakewood’s manholes for water infiltration.

*Worth Noting – We were reminded that our current sewer system was approved to be installed back in 2013 by our previous village manager, Catherine Peterson with direction from a previous village president and a previous board of trustees, when they made the decision to disconnect from the Crystal Lake system and install our own. The cost of this new sewer system was approximately $2.4 Million.


Public comment period during the July 18th Lakewood Village Board meeting.

We began the meeting with 2-hours of open dialogue and questions/answers between residents, board members, engineers, contractors and our wastewater supervisor. As expected, things got pretty heated at times as residents shared their stories, expressed their despair and voiced their anger & frustration that there was no immediate, clear-cut solution to this problem.

SPEAKING FRANKLY (Learning from our past)

Without trying to “pass the buck,” or get off topic, I want to make certain that residents understand that the management/administration that had been running our village and making these critical decisions/indecisions for the last 15 years or so (and up until very recently) is no longer present.

New Lakewood Village Board

I also want to make certain that residents understand that the village president and all but one trustee that were responsible for setting policy and providing the required oversight of the former management/administration for these same years is no longer present.

Old Lakewood Village Board before Jason McMahon took Ken Santowski’s position.

As I stated at this meeting, for those who may not know, I have spent a substantial amount of time and personal money, over the last couple of years, fighting our past Board & Administration and creating an awareness among Lakewood residents, of the very mismanagement and malfeasance that has led to our current state of inadequate infrastructure and disorganization – all while this same past Board & Administration was focused on

  • “Lakewood boundary expansion”
  • “future development” and
  • a “new village hall”

– even going so far as to spend nearly A MILLION DOLLARS on purchasing land and engineering & legal fees in their pursuit of a speculative, proposed future development at Rtes 47 & 176.

My Commitment – My Promise Moving Forward

Although this didn’t ease the suffering, or assuage the anger/frustration, I emphasized my commitment to address this issue in a timely manner.

I promised that this issue would not go ignored any longer.

I committed, that as village president, I would serve to govern as I believe municipal governments are supposed to – with a focus on first providing essential services, i.e.;

  • adequate sewers,
  • safe water
  • safe roads and
  • professional/trained public safety (Police, Fire, EMS)

– and as trustee Phil Stephan continues to say: with “an elevated standard of living and increased property values always in mind.”

I pledged that, as our new village president, you will never hear me speak of

  • “expanding Lakewood boundaries”
  • “future development” or
  • a “new village hall”

until such time as our current infrastructure is safe and sound… until residents can live safely in their homes… and even then, only when such endeavors can be done responsibly and advantageously for residents, and with protective measures in place for Lakewood taxpayers.

After closing Public Discussion, the board went on to retroactively approve the contractor that I had previously authorized to begin inspecting and assessing the 95 manholes in the east side of our village.

There are several more important issues from this meeting that I will report on, soon.

Please bear with me as I try to get caught up on reporting while catching up on some other responsibilities that went neglected while dealing with our recent nightmare.

I will follow up on the more salient issues from this meeting soon, including:

  • Disbanding of the Lakewood Planning and Zoning Committee (important)
  • Lakewood Police Dept. New Participation in Mutual Aid Agreement
  • Hiring of New Police Officer
  • Re-Organization Recommendations of Village Administration (Very EXCITING)
  • Hiring of Julie Heather Meister as Chief Administrative Officer (Very Exciting)
  • Resolution to Censure Trustee Jason McMahon

= = = = =
Part 2 will come soon.


Lakewood Village President Paul Serwatka Reflects on Last Meeting and Future — 15 Comments

  1. Lakewood residents should be very pleased with the actions of the new Board and its new President.

    They truly have their priorities straight and will be very good for the Village.

    No more “pies in the sky”.

  2. Dude sure can use the first pronouns in his letters.

    It’s really sad to see folks who seldom share leadership, but can assess blame very quickly.

    I base this on his writing; I don’t know Paul personally.

  3. Tom, please explain.

    He speaks of a promise/commitment that he made.

    He should hold others to his promises and commitments?

  4. He’s probably not as good at writing as he is as leading and doing, but he and the others are certainly breath of fresh air!!!

  5. I think Serwatka should have more accurately written ‘mismanagement/misadministration’ in his report as follows:

    “I also want to make certain that residents understand that the village president and all but one trustee that were responsible for setting policy and providing the required oversight of the former management/administration for these same years is no longer present.”

  6. Villa park offers $1000 for installation of sewer check valves.

    Oak Park $3500.

    Does Lakewood have a program?

    If not, maybe it should?

    Seems like a quality of life issue and protection of real estate values would benefit.

  7. He never mentioned that the system that was installed has more than enough capacity for Lakewood, as well any future expansion projected.

    When you do something like this, consultants come in and show potential savings.

    Also Engineers come in and make sure the system, which Lakewood’s state of the art, will do the job necessary.

    The Village Manager and President take all the information possible and make an intelligent decision.

    Having someone as bright as Erin Smith and Catherine Peterson was a huge plus for Lakewood.

    Putting that system in was smart and cost effective.

    Literally months after she leaves office, the new President allows citizens to put their rain/storm water into the sewer system.

    The system is not able to handle it and it caused a huge problem and led to this issue.

    The new Prez never thought that ignoring this problem would lead to sewage in peoples homes, but his neglect coupled with unprecedented rain caused that damage and the buck stops with this new administration.

    I smell a new Prez who every time something goes wrong is going to be looking for the missing and deleted emails.

    What was the end result?

    Big brother had to come and save us.

    Thank you Crystal Lake!

    Can we join you!


  8. Pass a petition seeking a referendum to join Crystal Lake, if you feel so strongly about the subject.

  9. CitizenX (former disgruntled deputy manager, Shannon Andrews)

    Can’t pass a petition.

    Due doesn’t live in Lakewood.

  10. Lakewood is a laughing stock now.

    We are the joke of McHenry County.

    By the way, I am sure Shannon is busy with her family and not too worried about the clowns she left behind.

    She got out just in time.

    Let them clean up the mess that she warned them could happen.

    The reason Phil or Paul think this is Shannon is because this info is true.

    That there was a problem with the citizens putting storm water into the sewer system and they think only Shannon knew.


    The whole building knew.

    There are eyes everywhere.

    As far as a petition goes, I doubt it will be long before one is put out.

    Only 250 sigs is not much.

    Big brother would never be so petty over salaries and trying to make all these crazy changes.

    At least they bailed us out with the sewers.

    They are an experienced group that knows what it takes to run a professional local government.

    They empower their employees and let them carry out the running of the city.

    Which was named a top 100 small town in America recently.

  11. Citizenx, sounds like you have information you want to keep secret . . . sticking your head up like this is a distraction to what might be going on, or fear of what might be found out.

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