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Batavia alderman looking at reviving dam discussion

BATAVIA – Third Ward Alderman Dan Chanzit believes it is time to address the continued deterioration of the north dam on the Fox River in Batavia.

“Eventually, the dam will fail completely, and that will alter the banks of the Depot Pond as well as the beautiful vista south of Fabyan Parkway,” Chanzit said. “If we don’t act, then Mother Nature will make a decision for us.”

The dam, built about a century ago by Challenge Windmill Company, is near the Batavia Riverwalk. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources in the past has talked about removing the dam in an effort to improve water quality and aquatic life, and also because it is no longer functional.

Chanzit said the city should put an advisory referendum on the ballot so residents can vote on what should be done with the dam. Batavia residents, in an advisory referendum several years ago, voted in a 2-1 margin to keep the dam.

Chanzit said he discussed the dam with Arlan Juhl, director of water resources for the IDNR, during a recent trip to Springfield.

“I got a verbal commitment from Arlan to engage in further discussions if we could get all the interested parties to agree on a permanent solution,” Chanzit said. “I’m sure we could find a compromise that will make the Fox River healthier and safer for recreation while maintaining the visual impact created by the pool behind it.”

Chanzit said he would like the dam preserved, but be modified to make that area healthier and safer.

Dinesh Sudhakar-Uckoo, 26, of Bloomington died Saturday as a result of drowning after his two-person kayak fell over a dam in Geneva.

Sudhakar-Uckoo became caught in the boil in front of the dam, Geneva fire officials said.

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke on Wednesday said the dam continues to pose a danger and would like to see it removed.

He said Depot Pond should be closed off and a pumping system installed to ensure its existence.

“It would be a gross misdirection of taxpayer dollars to replace the dam,” Schielke said.

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