Lakewood Meeting Peaceful Compared to Two Weeks Ago

Missing from the Lakewood Village Board on Tuesday were Jason McMahon and Richard Ritchie.

The meeting of the Village Board of Lakewood was calm compared to the one two weeks ago when basements were flooded. (See Part 1 and Part 2.)

Chief Administrative Officer Heather Meister reviewed what had been done to fight flooding problems in a comprehensive report.

“I think we’ve done everything in a timely manner…a complete manner,” she concluded.

Identifying the underlying problem for the 2007 and 2017 flooding is the next task; then, in the longer-term, figuring out how to prevent it from happening again.

Meister identified three needs:

  1. a disaster recovery plan for various challenges
  2. figuring out what happened and finding the “root causes”
  3. regular maintenance of “what we own”

The manhole camera work has been completed and an initial review of the report before Tuesday’s meeting showed no significant problems, according to wastewater treatment operator Gary Zickuhr.

Zickuhr explained that the pumps are adequately sized for sanitary sewage.

In fact, he pointed out they will take five times the estimate sewage volume.

But, he continued, they will not take “ten times” what the pipes were designed to handle.

The system is designed to handle about 100,000 gallons a day from 320 homes.

Carl Davis

“We’re pumping a million [gallons a day] when it rains,” Zickuhr said.

Agreeing, Trustee Carl Davis said, “The problem is the storm water.”

“The linch pin to solving the problem is [to get rid of that storm water].”

While there is much interest now, he predicted that six months from now there will be “not so much.”

“It won’t be cheap.  I can promise you that,” Davis warned.

Zickuhr pointed to the old clay pipes leading from homes to the sewage pipes in the streets.

“It’ only takes 15-20 sump pumps to overwhelm the system,” he explained.

Paul Serwatka

Village President Paul Serwatka explained that relief from the flooding problem was gong to take the cooperation of residents.

Inspections of sump pumps would be necessary, that he didn’t want to have to “find a way to force ourselves into your basement.”

There were many fewer members of the audience that attended two weeks ago.

One was Peter Olsen, who lives on Hampshire Lane.

“Good job with your response.”

Then, he urged Board members “to move away from personal opinions.”

He noted that until recently audience members could not get answers to their questions.

“We weren’t allowed to ask questions.”

“We had to hire a lawyer to get you to listen” to objections to allowing a home to be built in another’s back yard.

Peter Olsen

He quotes former Village President Erin Smith as having said, “It’s a done deal.”

He reviewed past Board actions, including

  • wanting to build a new village hall for $4 million
  • planning to spend $16 million to run a sewer line out to “empty corn fields”
  • buying RedTail [golf course] for $4 million, which is now worth $1 million.

Olsen added that he disagreed with Trustee Richard Ritchie’s wanting to discuss a new police building.

“Shame on him.”

Olsen laid out what he thought should be the role of village government:

  • We deserve to be protected.
  • We have valid concerns [about flooding] which were proven two week ago.
  • Be fiscally responsible.
  • Don’t ignore residents who have valid concerns.

Responding, Trustee Phil Stephan said, “We’re on the needs, not the wants.”

Olsen then moved onto his motivation for attending the meeting:

“We’re sick of having sewage in our basements.”

He suggested a drainage pond be dug on the west side of Huntley Road where empty lots are for sale.

That would be “simple, easy, cheap, effective.

“Control your surface water, you control your storm water.”

The meeting was not crowded, as it was during the flooding two weeks ago.

One flooding topic on the agenda was postponed.  That was to hire American Underground to record what is in the sewage pipes and pipes leading to them from homes.  The cost was listed as about $40,000, the cost being $,75 per linear foot.

Paul Olszak being sworn in.

After the flooding discussion finished, the village board hired two to be full-time police officers:

  • Edwin Cole, who has been part-time for 3-5 years, according to Chief Michael Roth
  • Paul Loszak, who retired from the Crystal Lake Police Department after 28 years, and, according to Roth, brings multiple skills to the department

Edwin Cole taking oath of office.

In other police business, a new four-wheel drive Dodge squad car was purchased from an Indiana firm, Thomas Dodge, which charged $900 less than McHenry’s Sunnyside and through in a spare tire and LED lights.

Heather Meister was hired as the village’s permanent Chief Administrative Officer at a salary of $157,700.  She will also handle the books.

Unlike previous village administrators, there will not be a four-year contract nor a severance package if the Board becomes dissatisfied with her performance.

She can be let go at any time.

Approval was given for a second person to sign all checks as part of the re-organization of village employees recommended previously by Meister.


Lakewood Meeting Peaceful Compared to Two Weeks Ago — 5 Comments

  1. No need to go inside initially, smoke test the pipes, it will show if the down spouts are connected to the Sann.

  2. Chief Administrative Officer at a salary of $157,700.

    Is that figure correct?

  3. As was explained, the new Chief Administrative Officer position comprises/replaces What was formerly two positions.
    – The Village Manager at $133,000 salary plus a $30,000 pension/benefits package – for a total of $163,000.
    – Finance Director at $115,000 salary plus a $30,000 pension/benefits package -for a total of $145,000.

    The total cost to Lakewood taxpayers, for these two positions was over $300,000.

    Furthermore, Lakewood’s village manager has historically come with a 4-year employment contract including hefty severability clauses including Severance packages as much as 4-6 months of salary if employment is terminated.

    This new Chief Administrative Officer agreement is entirely “at will employment” with NO contract period and NO severability clause/ severance package guarantees. Lakewood can terminate at anytime should they deem necessary.

    This transition was a quite brilliant and very strategic move.

    The goal was to find a qualified candidate to perform both the managerial and accounting roles. A CPA with high level managerial experience.

    Great emphasis was also placed on finding someone with more private sector experience and less of a municipal government “indoctrinated” mindset.

    Meister’s credentials were more than impressive. Her credentials along with her vast experience in Fortune 1000, NPO, and the ABA arenas put her light-years ahead of both Andrews and her predacessor Peterson.

    I also noticed her in her credentials that were previously posted, that she was also a Forensic Auditor as well as a Certified Fraud Examiner. Those skills alone may very well prove to be with their weight in gold, in Lakewood.

    This move along with the selection of Michael Roth as Lakewood’s new Chief of Police have will catapult Lakewood into the arena of legitimate and efficient government working to SERVE the residents rather than the other way around.

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