[Shaw Media file photos]
[Water rushes over Batavia's Fox River dam, producing a boil that creates a dangerous undertow. The city will install signs and lights to warn pedestrians and boaters of the hazard.]
BATAVIA – The ownership of Batavia’s Fox River dam may be murky, but clearly remains the city’s problem.
That was evident June 18 when the Batavia City Council approved a $71,000 contract to install warning signs and lighting near the crumbling dam.
Meanwhile, city aldermen are pressing ahead with plans to obtain a declaratory judgment to settle the question of the dam’s ownership once and for all.
Known as the Challenge Dam, the aging concrete structure extends from the tip of the peninsula north of the Batavia Government Center to the east bank at the Challenge building.
Work to install the warning signs and lights is expected to be completed this summer. The city’s insurance carrier is requiring the improvements as a condition of providing liability coverage against an injury or death.
The city’s legal team, most aldermen and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources contend that the dam belongs to the city, although Seventh Ward Alderman Dave Brown and 1st Ward Alderman Michael O’Brien say the dam is owned by the state of Illinois.
Mayor Jeff Schielke said that the dam, more than a century old, was privately constructed to provide water power to factories on the river.
“There’s no deed that exists that shows the city of Batavia has any ownership of that dam,” Schielke said at a recent committee meeting.