Lebanon Council hears proposal to repair flooding concerns

Lebanon Mayor Rich Wilken listens as Rhutasel and Associates, Inc. Project Engineer Mark Rujawitz presents his ides for fixing two decades worth of flooding issues on Roger Drive and Merrill Street. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Angela Simmons)

By Angela Simmons

LEBANON – Rhutasel and Associates Project Engineer Mark Rujawitz updated the Lebanon City Council and concerned residents about his survey of the flooding areas at Roger Drive and Merrill Street. He shared his ideas for multiple different aspects of the project and advised on the possible use of of Motor Fuel Tax funds. 

Rujawitz recommended some grading along Roger, replacing one 30 inch pipe with a 36 inch pipe, adding two box culverts or manholes, having the pipes turn, and adding a ditch in an easement near the worst of the flooding that would connect to a culvert at McKendree University, “at least five feet wide” and would be lined with rip rap. He did add that there is also potential to widen the pipe on Roger Drive to 36 inches, but said “It may be easier in the long run to add a retention pond across the road, but I know that’s McKendree’s property. There’s several areas here that need to be looked at and decided on.” 

The estimate for widening one pipe and adding in the box culverts is $60,000 in construction costs alone. “That doesn’t include the grading, or anything around McKendree. Some of the funding could be motor fuel tax, and some could be general funds, and you could use multiple funding sources and one contractor to do as much as possible,” Rujawitz explained. 

The materials are also not included, however Alderman Frank Almeter has already purchased one 36 inch pipe that’s waiting to be installed. 

Audience members and aldermen lamented that there were no visuals, and Rujawitz will be sending his plans to the aldermen. 

Streets and Alleys Superintendent Jody McNeese and Mayor Rich Wilken have previously met with representatives from McKendree University but do not seem hopeful that the university will install a retention pond. “If anything goes into that land that they own, by ordinance, it’s going to require a watershed engineering report. They are aware of the state of things,” Wilken said. 

Resident Terry Weil pointed out that the property in question used to be the site of Neverman Lake before it was closed in. 

Work would begin at the downstream end, and Rujawitz would recommend replacing the culverts at McKendree Park and replacing the pipe that runs from Roger along Merrill Street. 

Alderman Al Gerdes  has concerns about the box culverts, which would be made thicker to be part of the roadway, being grated. Gerdes said he keeps a rake in his car to help clear off the existing grates, and the gumballs and leaves would continue to build up. 

McNeese said that he did not want to have to return to this spot every few years and suggested materials that might make the ditches more permanent, but Rujawitz said having a wide base should be enough. 

The aldermen will review the plans and maps, and move forward from there. 

In Other News:

• There will be no committee meetings on February 4. The Lebanon Planning Commission will meet on February 5, and there will be a public hearing at 7:00 p.m. to discuss proposed amendments to the comprehensive plan and revision of the planned use map. The finance, water and sewer, and personnel committees will meet on Wednesday, February 6 at 7:00 p.m.

• The council approved changes to the city’s burial policy, including allowing burial on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The policy will aign with the state of Illinois’ Burial Rights Act. There will be fee changes for opening graves. Monday through Friday burials will cost $750, and weekend and holiday burials will cost $1,500. The cost of the plots and funerals are separate. Aldermen Almeter and Gerdes voted against the proposal. 

• City Attorney John Long updated the council on his research into changing ordinances regarding business licenses and special use permits, and said that Lebanon’s current ordinance mirrors multiple court decisions. 

From the 1961 case of Jones vs. Carbondale, Long read “A special use is a permission by the board to an owner to use his property in a manner contrary to the ordinance provided that the intended use is one of those specifically listed in the ordinance, and provided that the public convenience will be served by the use.” 

With legal notices, public hearings and ordinance amendments,  the entire process for business owners could take 60 days. 

“It’s unfortunate that it’s cumbersome, but there’s a reason for this, and cumbersome as it is, those are the rules,” Wilken said.