Rockford Leaders Plan Flood Action

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

"Well, here we go again," says Rockford Alderman Nancy Johnson.
For the second time in less than a year, Rockford's city council is facing how to fund flood repairs and storm water management, and they say this time they can't afford to wait.
"We've been warned once, we've been warned twice. We dare not let this happen again," says Rockford Alderman Frank Beach.
The Alpine Dam is one of council members' top concerns. They announced plans Monday night to hire a consultant by mid-September, bid out construction over the winter and begin work next spring. The million dollar plus repairs would include fortifying the the spillway's concrete floor and improving the way the dam raises and lowers. The money would come from sales taxes.
"We will coordinate with the Army Corps of Engineers on this project and will continue to seek federal funds for these repairs. But we will not wait any longer," says Rockford City Administrator Jim Ryan.
But that's just one small piece of the puzzle. Aldermen say the south end of Keith Creek is really what causes the trouble, not the north end contained by the dam. Now city leaders plan to move ahead with a Keith Creek Basin Study, also with sales tax money.
"We've also allocated dollars to do a comprehensive storm water management plan. You'll see that proposal go out within the next 30 days," says Ryan.
But many flood victims say they don't want to hear about plans and studies anymore. They say real action is long overdue and about 100 residents are planning a lawsuit against the city.
"I got five feet, six inches of water in my basement a year ago and they have done nothing to fix that problem since," says Ronald Cash, a member of the class-action suit.
Aldermen say they are working as quickly as possible and ask for just a little more patience.
Also at Monday night's meeting, the council approved annexing a pocket of Winnebago County land that falls within Rockford's city limits, on the east side of town. But several residents of the Bradley Heights neighborhood are now considering legal action, because they say they cannot afford to pay Rockford's taxes.


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