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Downers Grove

Residents remain skeptical of Valley View pond naturalization

DOWNERS GROVE – Neighbors surrounding Valley View pond are dreading spring's heavy rain after last week's storm led its water level to encroach back yards.

Ron Zarek's backyard sits on the pond, and he and other neighbors are worried that the village's effort this fall to turn it into a wetland may have contributed to the high water mark.

Downers Grove Assistant Director of Public Works Andy Sikich said the high water was caused by debris, trash and a piece of seed blanket from the project that clogged a drain, and not the project design itself.

"The naturalization of the pond in no way increased flooding," Village Spokesman Doug Kozlowski said. "3.1 inches of rain fell on Downers Grove in approximately 24 hours from Wednesday evening into [Thursday] evening, which is a significant rainfall event."

Zarek, his neighbor Louis Stankaitis and others remain skeptical of a project that nearly 40 Valley View residents opposed last year.

"The concern is if a really good rain event happened, then it will start coming in our basement windows," Stankaitis said.

The pond filled in with sediment over the years and became home to foul-smelling algae.

Neighbors first asked the village, which owns the pond, to dredge it to bring it back to its original depth. Dredging would have cost in upward of $900,000, according to figures provided by the village in 2012, and so staff recommended the naturalization project. It cost substantially less and should require no maintenance following a three-year monitoring period, officials said.

The village board last year approved a $542,610 contract with ENCAP, Inc. to do the work, with a 5 percent contingency.

The project adds native plants to the 2.5-acre pond, located between Robey Avenue and Valley View Drive, turning it into what village staff has described as a wetland, but what some neighbors are afraid will be more like a swamp.

Zarek and Stankaitis add that they and others paid a premium for their water-front homes and the village's plan to turn the fetid pond into a marsh would ruin their investments.

"The homeowners believe this is going to turn into a garbage dump, slash wildlife refugee, slash mosquito swamp," Zarek said.

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