Guest Column: Roscoe Sports Complex: Feels like retribution from 13 years ago
• Roscoe Township is putting a driveway into a huge sports complex through our subdivision
By Sally Wallace, Jackie Russell and Sue Duhigg
Hononegah Country Estates residents
As we have gotten further along in our investigation regarding the traffic problems that will be created by the sports complex, it is beginning to feel as if the residents are being subjected to retribution by certain Winnebago County Board members and Roscoe Township Trustees for an event that happened 13 years ago.
The residents of Evergreen Manor and Hononegah Country Estates were able to join forces in 1999 to halt the development of a large subdivision by Tom Dickerson on the landlocked 42 acres now known as the Roscoe Sports Complex.
We now realize that 130 homes built on those 42 acres would have generated almost $400,000 a year in taxes. Had construction on the homes been completed by 2003, and not counting the construction years, the county and township would have received $3,600,000 in taxes. This does not include the money Dickerson would have made building the houses. I guess that’s enough money for them to still be angry with us.
This dispute over creating an alternate driveway into the sports complex is about the tax money the county and township are not getting, and the fact that Dickerson was not allowed to build the subdivision.
Gary Jury’s (R-7) comment July 11 at the county board meeting when Steve Schultz (R-3) asked for help from the Planning/Zoning Committee to solve the traffic problem certainly adds credence to this thought. He made a very angry comment along the lines of, “The subdivisions should have let the houses be built, and then we wouldn’t have this problem.”
Jury then went so far as to seek out Frank Schier, editor and publisher of The Rock River Times newspaper, at a dinner to crow over the fact that the restrictions had been lifted after the water test was done and the volatile organic chemical levels were found to be below acceptable levels (which we pushed the township into doing — they weren’t going to do it on their own). The restrictions had called for no human contact with the water.
“The whole incident was very strange. Suddenly, Gary Jury was at my elbow crowing about water testing results in Roscoe. He was very, very avid. He obviously had sought me out. I kind of felt sorry for him,” Schier said.
Jury also waited for Schultz for two hours while the most recent Finance Committee meeting was being held. He wanted to make sure he got to be the one to tell Schultz that the restrictions on the well had been lifted.
Since the area around the sports complex consists of two superfund groundwater contamination sites, safeguards were put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep the public safe. The Roscoe Township went to the Winnebago County Board, and they performed an end zone run around those safeguards to pass an ordinance allowing an irrigation well to be drilled in the superfund groundwater contamination site. They never consulted the EPA or the Winnebago County Health Department about this well until after the fact and then sought a permit to drill the well.
Now, we have Kyle Logan proposing a $300,000 personnel budget cut against the Winnebago County Health Department. What a coincidence that this is happening right after the WCHD tried to protect the citizens with restrictions on the irrigation well in the sports complex.
People we have spoken with, when told about the traffic issues and the sports complex being built within our subdivision, are appalled that the Roscoe Township is putting the driveways into the huge complex through our subdivision. Schultz has helped us negotiate with the Catholic Diocese for an easement through their property, which gives the complex an entrance at the corner of Straw Lane and Hononegah Road. Renee McNitt, township supervisor, refuses to return Wayne Lenell’s, CFO of the Catholic Diocese, phone call to even discuss it. We believe this is because Tom Hawes won’t let her.
Have you ever been to Mud Volleyball? Have you seen the traffic at that event? That is what is going to happen to our subdivision on a regular basis. Mud Volleyball is once a year. We will have this traffic/parking nightmare eight months out of the year.
The township is putting 90 parking spaces in at the complex. Roscoe Rockton Lions Football uses at least 300 parking spaces per game, with four games in succession on Saturdays in August, September, October and early November. They will also play two games on Tuesday/Thursday nights. We haven’t even gotten numbers about the soccer teams or baseball teams that will use the complex. The township is also putting in two sand volleyball courts. We will be inundated with cars on our streets on a regular basis. Have you ever seen how fast parents drive when they are running late to get their child to practice or to a game? Our streets will be speedways.
We’ve been told a sports complex will add to the value of our homes. Well, it certainly will not if we can’t sell them. One neighbor put his well-cared for, attractive home up for sale by owner. People came to see it and really liked the house. They were ready to make an offer, then saw the driveway to the sports complex right next to it and asked what was happening. The prospective buyers walked away and were never heard from again.
There will be a large, long, deep retention pond that will form on the entire east side of the sports complex. The township installed dry wells and overflow pipes. The overflow pipes make it very clear how high they expect the water to get. Sadly, a teen-ager drowned in the Chicory Ridge subdivision retention pond in 2008. This sports complex has a children’s playground — lots of young kids will be playing there. Many of the older ones will be unaccompanied because they live around the complex. Who’s going to protect them? Are there plans for a fence around the retention pond?
There are homes on both the east end and west end of Rollingsford lane where small children live or visit their grandparents on a regular basis. They will not be able to ride their bikes on what used to be very quiet dead-end streets. They will not be able to take walks with their parents and grandparents because of the traffic. The neighbors who walk on Cedar Brook Road to get to the bike path will be taking their lives in their own hands to get to the bike path.
We have tried, to no avail, to reason with the Roscoe Township Trustees. Tom Hawes sat with his back to us at the last meeting and refused to look at us. Approximately 50 people attended the July Trustees meeting, and another 30 people attended the August Trustees meeting to protest the current entrance and exit plans. We have presented a petition to the trustees with 322 signatures asking for a driveway to the sports complex that does not pass through the subdivisions.
No one is going to want to buy any of these homes in these neighborhoods. Our new neighbor on Cedar Brook got hoodwinked – he just moved in this summer. He knew nothing about the debacle going on down the street or the fact that he had just bought a house on what’s going to be one of, if not the busiest street in Roscoe. You would have thought his realtor would have at least mentioned it.
If this doesn’t feel like retaliation, we can’t image what could. The Roscoe Township Trustees have ignored us at every turn. They seem amazed that so few people even knew about this project. They say it wasn’t a secret, so why did they use sports parent meetings to satisfy the DNR grant, not neighbors to the sports complex? By the time they had a meeting to tell the residents of Evergreen Manor and Hononegah Country Estates about it, it was fait accompli.
We are appalled at the machinations of our local governments in their efforts to further punish the residents of Evergreen Manor and Hononegah Country Estates for their efforts 13 years ago to protect the integrity of their neighborhoods.
We have a new “No Confidence” online petition. please go to: http://tiny.cc/8pmhkw. It’s also on our Facebook page; please go to “Roscoe Field.”
The September meeting of the Roscoe Township Trustees will be tonight, Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Township Hall, 5792 Elevator Road, Roscoe, Ill.
From the Sept. 12-18, 2012, issue