Crest Hill has crossed Gaylord Road, and residents on the Sunnyland side of the street are not happy about it.
They are especially unhappy because Crest Hill wants to build a city well that likely will take water away from at least some of the private wells in Sunnyland, an unincorporated area of about 300 homes that runs along Gaylord Road.
“Don’t let Crest Hill steal our water,” reads one large sign near the fenced-in lot that Crest Hill acquired in June for the well.
“No city of Crest Hill municipal well in our neighborhood,” reads another.
The city well would draw off the same aquifer that Sunnyland residents depend on, longtime Sunnyland resident Mark Myers said.
“We’re worried about the impact on our wells,” Myers said.
Crest Hill city officials acknowledge their well could have an effect on Sunnyland water.
Mayor Ray Soliman said the city is seeking the cooperation of the neighbors before deciding whether to move forward with the well.
“We are trying to do our due diligence,” Soliman said.
He said the city still needs to determine “if its even feasible to have a well house on that property.”
Crest Hill needs to determine what effect the well would have on Sunnyland and how much the city would have to spend to remedy water loss.
“We certainly are not looking to de-water anybody’s wells,” City Administrator Heather McGuire said.
The city sent a survey to collect information on Sunnyland wells as it studies the feasibility for its own well, McGuire said. The survey also could be used to address potential water loss before a city well is dug, she said.
The survey asks residents to provide Crest Hill with information on the depths and diameters of their wells, maintenance history and locations of their septic systems.
It also asks for authorization to inspect their wells.
It asks for too much, Myers said.
“They wanted us to sign the thing and send it back to them, giving them the right to come onto our property and inspect our wells and sewer systems,” he said. “They have no right to do that.”
About 300 surveys were sent in August. As of last week, Crest Hill got back fewer than 15.
The surveys were meant to introduce Crest Hill’s plans to the Sunnyland residents.
But weeks before they were sent, Myers came across a Crest Hill truck on the well lot and found out what was going on. Word about Crest Hill’s plan to dig a well spread through Sunnyland.
“It comes down to a lot of mistrust with Crest Hill,” Joe Hadamik said.
Hadamik said mistrust preceded the well episode. Once residents found out about the well, it deepened suspicion. By the time the surveys arrived, he said, it was too late.
“I’m not going to cooperate with you when you guys were not open about that,” Hadamik said, pointing to the potential well site.
Crest Hill should put together a brochure explaining their plans and send it to the residents so they can make up their minds about cooperating with the survey, he said.
Sunnyland residents went to one Crest Hill City Council meeting to talk about the well but left unsatisfied. Plans to have a subsequent community meeting never developed.
Now, it appears to be a standoff.
“If they want to dig, there’s nothing we can do to stop them,” Hadamik said. “But if they dry us out, it’s going to take a long time to put us back in order.”