Batavia park board agrees to let state remove dam
Chicago Daily Herald
By Gala M. Pierce Daily Herald Staff Writer
By a close vote of 3-2, Batavia park officials endorsed the city
council's vote last Thursday - to allow the state to remove most or all
of the north dam.
Board President Britta McKenna said that neither the plan's dam removal
nor the full-width whitewater rapid option, a recreational 900-foot
ramp, were ideal, but it was time to move forward. While she was
worried about the narrowing of the river, she was just as enthusiastic
about the prospects.
"I am actually excited about some of the possibilities," McKenna said
at Tuesday's park board meeting.
The river may produce wetlands, and an interpretive boardwalk area
could be designated, she said. The city could rely on the Batavians for
a Healthy River Committee to help with the river's transition.
"We have a group of volunteers who are willing to step up and help
restore the shoreline," she said.
The motion mirrored the council's suggestion to remove or reduce
structures called riffles that impede sedimentation in the Fox River
from floating downstream and maintain the river's width and depth.
City council member Linnea Miller explained she anticipates some kind
of structure in the river if not riffles, especially at the forest
preserve district's Causeway Island.
In July 2002 and in December, the park board voted for reducing the dam
to about 5 feet at the dam's current location and a 3-foot tall check
dam located 520 feet upstream - an alternative the Illinois Department
of Natural Resources would not pursue.
They felt the alternative best met the park board's objectives of
maintaining the integrity of Depot Pond and the riverwalk, improving
the quality of the river water, and recreation.
Their 2002 vote differed from the city council's, which endorsed dam
removal. That prompted an advisory referendum in April of last year
that indicated residents wanted to keep the dam by a margin of 62 to 38
Board member Tony Barajas felt the state failed to cooperate with the
city and felt the dam removal plan fell short of improving the
riverwalk and the downtown. Pat Callahan did not state his reasons for
voting against the motion.
Both Scott Burkitt and Alan Leard, who voted yes, felt it was time to
close the issue and move on.
The board allowed 10 minutes for advocates and opponents of dam removal
The only person who spoke was Jessi DiMartini, a leader for the
Batavians for a Healthy River Committee.
The Batavia naturalist urged the board to make a decision, so that the
state would not allow the consultants' contract to expire, which would
shelve the Batavia project. Then she recited a poem, "Green Algae and
Dam," playing off "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss, which triggered
many smiles and chuckles from the board and audience of about 15
"I do not like that gooey sediment muck, nor the roller current that
kill fishermen, down on their luck," she read.
Miller hopes the decision prompts the state to record the deed of the
dam. The city first gave it to the state in 1994, but the state has yet
to take ownership of it.
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