GALESBURG, Ill. — Galesburg is putting the brakes on a plan for major changes at Lake Storey. Galesburg aldermen decided to hold off on a decision to expand the lake and create new residential development on the land located on the city's far northwest side.
It's a 26 million dollar project to be done in different phases over several years. It’s good news for some residents who feared they were losing a voice over their own homes and property.
One of those residents is Donna Swigart. For her usually quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of Galesburg there’s a lot of chatter right now.
Swigart saying everyone is talking about the potential expansion. “We are constantly talking about it and everybody is opposed to it.”
Donna Swigwart lives with her husband overlooking the woods. It’s woods that could eventually be under water. Swigart says she did not see this project coming. “It was shock. Total shock that they would make the lake bigger.”
There are eight house currently in the path of the new lake, Swigart’s included. Those homes would have to be bought by the city for the project to move forward.
The city released the findings of phase one on December 17th. On January 4th at the city council meeting the decision was made to push back the vote on whether or not to move forward with phase two.
Phase one findings found that the project was financially possible without raising property taxes. If it moves forward, phase two will do a more in depth survey of the land as well as the opportunity for community input sessions.
Parks and recreations director Tony Oligney-Estill says it will provide ample room for growth for the city of Galesburg. “It will give the community of Galesburg an additional recreational source. People can go tubing and jet skiing and water skiing and do all those kinds of motorized fun things to do. Aside there is potential to develop homes.”
Phase two is the part of the project the Swigart’s have been waiting for. It’s the part where they get to voice their input. For them there is plenty of concern about the $135,000 dollar phase two of the overall project.
Swigart says, “I think the way they are going about it is the wrong way.”
Oligney-Estill saying the city couldn’t justify seeking input when actual change is so far off. He says its still unclear that the project will even make it far enough to consider negotiations with home owners in the path of the expanded lake.
“It’s hard for me to go to a homeowner and say hey in maybe four years we might put your house under water if all these things align.”
For now it’s a project years away, but it’s a fact that doesn’t set Swigart any more at ease. “If we have to leave our home it’s going to be hard and I don’t want to have to do it, because we love it here.”
Alderman have not yet decided on when they will revisit the vote on phase two of the project. They did say they want to give more time for people in Galesburg to review the documents in phase one.