Erosion fix in Rockford development moving forward

The Rockford City Council meeting of Aug. 14 focused heavily on how to handle water issues, and associated costs, concerning properties in the Hurst Woods Development.

Several months ago, a property owner in the Hurst Woods Development approached staff and council due to water issues that were resulting in severe erosion, This was determined to be an issue of concern by the city’s engineer, and the council has been trying to move ahead to see this remedied, but has faced some hurdles of its own in regard to the cost of an effective fix and how it will be covered.

The city contends that this issue is the responsibility of the developer, who should pay for correcting it. The city, through its attorney, has been in talks with Shelard Investment over this issue, and sent a letter announcing intent to draw on a letter of credit to satisfy the cost of the project.

Attorney Bob Ruppe, standing in for Bob Couri, reported to the council that through negotiations it was learned that Shelard Investments does not have assets and cannot meet the letter of credit. A possible recourse would be to sue Shelard, but Rappe warned that it could be costly. He suggested negotiating may be more beneficial to the city, and reported that Shelard had offered to contribute $35,000 to the project.

A quote on a channel project that would correct the water issue at hand, and alleviate possible affected properties down the road, came in at a low bid of $42,000. An alternate bid for a “base” improvement came in lower, but the engineering hours were also considerably fewer. Discussion ensued over how many engineering hours this project warranted. In that discussion, points were raised over the growing scope of the project, and how future engineering time, if needed, would impact the city after Shelard paid the $35,000 and had no future responsibility,

The property owner who brought the erosion situation to the council’s attention said that he had investigated the low bidder on the project, with a favorable outcome, and offered to contribute monetarily if the council supported the scope of that improvement.

The council approved accepting the $35,000 settlement offer from Shelard with the stipulation that all engineering bills incurred to date regarding the project are paid in advance of the city moving forward.

In other news, the council moved forward in trying to fulfill another land issue. Due to a fire two years ago, a residential property has posed safety issues as its excavated lower level remains open. City staff has communicated the council’s concerns and expectations repeatedly, but the situation remains unchanged.

The council voted for staff contacting the property owner again and giving him written notification that the unsafe excavation needs to be filled within 15 days, or the city would do so and assess the cost to the property.

The owner, most recently, proposed surrounding the site in question with a black metal fence.

The next regular meeting of the Rockford City Council is Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Rockford City Hall, 6031 Main. St.