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.
*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.
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.
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.
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.