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Oswego may take over Ogden Falls streets : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Oswego may take over Ogden Falls streets
Board members approve resolution; ask staff, attorney for more info

by John Etheredge


Homeowners in Oswego's Ogden Falls Subdivision have been paying their homeowners association to maintain streets in the subdivision since it was developed nearly 15 years ago, but that may change.

Following a lengthy discussion Tuesday evening, village board members unanimously approved a resolution authorizing village "staff and the village attorney to execute the dedication of Ogdens Falls Subdivision private streets to the Village of Oswego."

Ogden Falls is located along the south side of U.S. Route 34 at U.S. Route 30.

Streets proposed to be turned over to the village are:_Waterbury Circle, Wingate Drive and Court, Mandy Lane, Bridgeview Drive Primrose Lane, Alex Court, Christina Court and Dylan Drive.

The board acted at the request of Frank MacDonald, a former president of the Ogden Falls Homeowners Association. The association represents 320 households in the subdivision.

During a committee meeting last week, MacDonald told the board the homeowners association has spent nearly $750,000 since 2001 repairing and maintaining just over two miles of association-owned streets in the subdivision.

He described the streets as being in "poor and unacceptable" condition.

The association, he said, also pays to snowplow and salt the streets and maintain adjoining streetlights.

He recalled that when the association took ownership of the streets in 2001 it had to immediately install seven additional streetlights to adequately light the subdivision and correct what they deemed was an unsafe situation.

"What HOA in Oswego has to put in streetlights on property dedicated by the developer? We had to," MacDonald said.

He continued, "We, as a subdivision, have shown good faith, but quite honestly we can't handle the responsibility of a public works department. We lack the knowledge, skills and funds to maintain our streets."

MacDonald added, "I come alone asking you (the board) to right this wrong and please consider taking over the streets in Ogden Falls. We are the only subdivision in the Village of Oswego that has this situation. We feel left out and abandoned."

A previous board approved the private streets as part of the original development agreement for Ogden Falls.

Steve Jones, village administrator, said it is unusual for a municipality to permit private streets "unless it is a gated community or for some incredible level of esthetics that only a homeowners association wants to maintain above and beyond (municipal) requirements."

Jones added, "If you can't tell it's a private street than it really shouldn't be."

He also cautioned the board that if they eventually agree to take ownership of the Ogden Falls streets other subdivision homeowner associations in the village may ask the board to accept ownership of their stormwater retention ponds and other privately owned properties.

Rod Zenner, the village's community development director, told the board the Ogden Fall streets are the only privately owned streets in the village.

Karl Ottosen, an attorney for the village, described the situation as "pretty unique to the village" and suggested the ownership of the streets could be transferred to the village as part of a "streets-only" real estate transfer application.

When questioned by board member Scott Volpe, MacDonald said he is certain that the vast majority of subdivision residents would be agreeable to turning over the streets to the village.

"We could get that support, hands down," he said.

Board member Tony Giles voiced support for the village assuming ownership of the streets. Noting that village officials have been hearing complaints about the private streets from Ogden Falls residents for years, Giles said, "I think it's a good idea for us to do."

Board member Gail Johnson also voiced support, but said she would like more information from village staff and attorneys.

'I'd like us to know what it will cost us and what it will add to our capital plan," she said.

Village President Brian LeClercq said the prior board's decision to approve the private streets in Ogden Falls as part of a development agreement for the subdivision in the late 1990s was something that his predecessor, Craig Weber, later regretted.

"I know President Weber felt bad about it," LeClercq said.

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