Fight Over The Big Island Levee Continues In The Courtroom - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Fight Over The Big Island Levee Continues In The Courtroom

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The fight over who owns a levee in Rock Island County returned to a courtroom.

The City of Rock Island is battling the Village of Milan and the Big Island River Conservancy District over it.

Rock Island leaders want to alter the levee for a new development. In order to build a multi-million dollar shopping development called Jumer's Crossing, the city would have to modify a portion of the Big Island levee to construct a road to get to the Crossing.

Rock Island is proposing to remove 300 feet of it and then build 600 more feet of levee to make room for this new road.

That's where this whole argument began: residents on Big Island, the Big Island River Conservancy District and Milan don't want Rock Island to modify what they say is their levee, worried about flooding and liability issues.

The big argument in court today... who owns the big island levee?

"It was all built and constructed, ponding areas, pump stations, pipes that run underneath it, all of that is owned by the local sponsors," said attorney for the Village of Milan and BIRCD Carrie Hermeling.

Local sponsors meaning the Village of Milan, the Big Island River Conservancy District and the residents of Big Island. They said they're authorized by the federal government to maintain the levee and have been for the last 40 years.

The City of Rock Island island begs to differ.

"This is not a federal levee," said attorney for the City of Rock Island Robert McMonagle. "They may have built it, but right now the City of Rock Island owns the levee and while the district attempted to minimize the effect all they had was simply the right to enter our property to maintain the levee."

Then, arguments whether Rock Island's plan to modify the levee for a new section of road is considered a Local Improvement Project, which Rock Island attorneys said they complied with...

"The local improvement act simply identifies the ability to take public or private property for public use," said McMonagle.

Or from what local sponsors say is just a means to an end...

"I think Rock Island might be using this idea of a local improvement and the assessments as the attorney said, kind of a way to get to a certain end and if that's the only way they can do it, I think that's not a good thing," said Village of Milan Mayor Duane Dawson.

Mayor Dawson said he's not opposed to Jumer's Crossing being built or any kind of economic development. He said he just doesn't want to put his citizens in jeopardy to do so.

"If they can figure out another way to get to that property, which they own I suppose that's feasible but right now I don't see anyway that they could other than building a bridge," said Mayor Dawson.

The Judge has not yet indicated when her ruling will be ready.

Mayor Dawson they're looking forward to a conclusion in this case, as they've already accrued tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees.

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