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  • Megann Horstead

Officials face backlash for proposed wastewater treatment plant


Plans for a regional wastewater treatment faced opposition from residents amid the New Lenox Village Board of Trustees’ efforts Feb. 12 at a regular meeting to work toward securing a land deal.

A pending agreement for the purchase of approximately 80 acres of land off Delaney Road has become a source of contention for many of those living on the Village’s south side.

Consider Rick Shafer, a resident of the Royal Meadows subdivision, who has lived in New Lenox for 22 years.

“The boundary of that land is a quarter-mile, [or] 1,300 feet, from my backyard,” he said. “It got my attention. It got it pretty quick, actually.”

Shafer wanted it to be clear that he is not trying to stop the Village from progressing, but he is concerned for the size of the proposed plant.

“It’s important to us how big do we go, what’s been planned, what’s responsible planning,” he said.

The approximate $60 million facility, if it is built off Delaney Road, is anticipated to handle up to 5.5 million gallons. Existing wastewater treatment plants in New Lenox have reached capacity at 3.3 million gallons.

Maureen Pinta, a resident of the Royal Meadows subdivision since 2000, referenced the site of the Aux Sable Plant in the City of Joliet and held up images of the facility, which she said she has been told is similar to what could be proposed for New Lenox.

“I know there are things that we can do,” she said, referring to the plant’s design of and related buffering. “I know we’re not at that point, but this is concerning.”

Pinta called into question the Village’s projected growth moving forward and said something doesn’t add up.

“With the question all of us have on our minds is, who benefits?” she asked.

Pinta questioned if communities, like Manhattan and Frankfort, are going to utilize the wastewater treatment plant, as well.

“Mayor Baldermann and Village trustees, with all the negative pushback you’re receiving from many citizens of New Lenox and the backlash you have read about in the newspapers, some might say you have significant challenges ahead of you,” Joe Winslow said. “However, my family and I, we’re are looking at this from a whole different perspective. We see that you’re faced with a golden opportunity. You have the opportunity to do the right thing. You have the ability and the time to change the course of action … and focus instead on locating a more suitable location.”

Larry DeSando referenced some land near the Cherry Hill Business Park as another site the Village could look into purchasing and said it would be much more suitable, given that it’s 1.1 miles away from the nearest home.

Mayor Tim Baldermann did not dispute the idea, but said that land faces it share of issues.

The Village is currently examining two alternative sites for the facility.

There are a number of different variables that come into play when considering where to build a regional wastewater treatment plant, including cost and access to a water source.

Baldermann wanted residents to rest assured that officials are not closed-minded.

“We always keep an open mind,” he “We’re always going to do what we think is best for the entire Village of New Lenox.”

Baldermann said there’s no advantage to doing something that’s a disadvantage to the Village’s residents.

“Hopefully, we can come up with a solution that is a win-win for everybody,” he said. “That’s absolutely our goal.”

The Village will hold a meeting at Village Hall to address the matter in more detail 6 p.m. Mar. 5, at which point engineers will be on hand.

Round it up

A brief recap of action and discussion from the Feb. 12 regular meeting of the New Lenox Village Board of Trustees:

  • Old Plank Trail Community Bank presented a check in the amount of $10,000 to the New Lenox Township Food Pantry.

  • A series of motions were passed to approve plans for Briarwood Place. The project, as presented, will bring on line new townhomes with a groundbreaking set for March.

  • A motion was passed to approve a site plan for the exterior remodeling of KFC.

  • A motion was passed to approve an $11,766 proposal to Midland Standard Engineering & Testing, Inc. for geotechnical services related to the approximate 80-acre site located off Delaney Road, which is in talks to house the Village’s regional wastewater treatment. The measure, as presented, is a matter of due diligence New Lenox officials needed to take in their effort to work toward acquiring the property.

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