Winnebago County Prepared to Buy Flood Prone Properties

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STATELINE (WIFR) – Winnebago says they now have the money and are ready to start buying flood prone property from people living on Blackhawk Island and along the Edgemere Terracearea near Roscoe.

Some people living those areas don’t want to move, but some are willing to at least listen to the county’s offer.

"From what I heard today...I think they'll work with all of us,” says Alan Terrell. He’s lived on Blackhawk Island for nearly fourteen years.

Terrell and nearly fifty other people were told the flood relief money is in, and the county is offering to buy their property.

"If they give me the price that I think I should get for my property and my home, then I'll pack up and move," said Terrell.

The county says they want to turn the flood-way into greenspace where people can no longer build homes in harm’s way. Not everyone is a fan of the idea.

"Change isn't always good, you know,” said Dillon Singley. He’s lived on the Island his entire life. He said, “I love my neighborhood I really don't want to see it change, you know. It's tight nit...there's pretty much three families that live there. We've known each other... we've grown up with each other."

The county says homeowners don’t have to move out, but are encouraging them to consider the offers.

"They're actually going to get more value for their home that they would in today's market,” said county director of development services Jim Hughes. “We're not going to force them out, and maybe when they get to retirement age they'll want to be bought out…we're certainly going to be there and be available to purchase their homes."

County leaders say although it can be difficult for some to leave their homes, it’s a move that should be made for their safety.

"It's been a long time coming,” said Jack Petersen. He’ll be negotiating with the property owners on the county’s behalf. “It's a good feeling to help them get rid of this terrible situation that they're in."

The county says they announced the grant money they’ll use to buy the properties early last year but didn't expect the state to take until this year to give it to them.

Petersen says he expects negotiations to last at least six months.

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