Monday, January 17, 2011

47 HP residents paid $237,046 to the City of Highland Park under coercion…

The City of Highland Park finally provided documents in response to a request based on the Freedom of Information Act. While I thank the City for turning around these documents fairly quickly with only a delay of a week, and for sending them by e-mail in a PDF (making this very convenient) and for waiving the costs (actually very much appreciated), frankly, I know it is missing some documents. So I'll take that up separately with the City.

Meanwhile, based on the 43 pages they delivered, we learned the following:

  • In 2008, 47 HP residents were billed and/or paid in the aggregate $237,046 for City of Highland Park infrastructure improvements.
  • $5043 was the average invoice for unnecessary repairs to sanitary lateral sewer lines on these residents' private property for the alleged benefit of enhancing the City's sewer infrastructure.
  • The highest amount on the list was $7044.77 for repairs to a sanitary lateral sewer line on private property for a Ridgewood Drive address.
  • The least amount paid by an involved HP resident was $2079.12 for property on Sherwood Avenue.
  • Here were the streets involved in the initial onslaught against HP residents:

Audubon Place


Brook Road


Clifton Avenue


Harvard Court


Hill Street


Hyacinth Place


Ridgewood Drive


Sherwood Avenue


Sumac Road


Summit Avenue


Sunset Road


University Avenue


Western Avenue


  • In addition to the above table of current HP residents, it appears that bills were issued to and paid by two former HP residents, one that moved to Riverwoods and the other to Winthrop Harbor, who paid $4989.60 and $5,498.84, respectively. As we have advised previously in this blog, the City's demand letter arrives at your door with no warning. So, while we haven't spoken with these former HP residents yet, the ill-conceived Sanitary Sewer Program doesn't allow you to budget for these (unnecessary) repairs. And, if you have already entered into a sales contract with a buyer and you then receive the demand letter, your purchaser is going to make you pay for those repairs (unless you agree otherwise and, frankly, what purchaser would agree to absorb the costs of an unnecessary expense?). However, there is documentation that includes frantic e-mailing that goes back and forth between the HP resident who is trying to close on his house sale and the City's John Welch. The correspondence goes on and on and on…and, clearly, the closing was complicated by this inane Sanitary Sewer Program. In any event, the seller likely walked away with $4989.60 less than he anticipated, not including the additional legal expenses he likely incurred with his real estate lawyer.

We were also provided some documentation of residents who were opposed to the Sanitary Sewer Program and/or who ended up with a sanitary lateral sewer line problem after the "repairs" – problems that did not exist before them. We'll cover some of that correspondence in this blog in the days ahead.

It's not just a question anymore of whether the Sanitary Sewer Program should be abandoned. We can see that our City Council adopted this program proposed by David Limardi with the least amount of personal investigation and debate. That's bad enough. However, we need to address the fact that there are real Highland Park residents who have suffered substantial economic harm as a result of this program and who have been treated, not just disrespectfully, but inequitably by the City. They deserve their money back and they deserve it now.

Please help your fellow HP residents while you are helping protect your own hard earned cash. Insist that the City of Highland Park reimburse each one of these individuals now. Don't support any mayoral candidate until she steps up today to do the right thing. If she won't do the right thing before the election, what makes you think she will do the right thing afterward? And, if neither of them will step up to do so today, then we need to look for other leadership to be on the ballot.

1 comment:

p said...


I was given this blog address by one of your readers. I have a lot of questions about your experiences with this program and the City's approach overall.

As a candidate for City Council I think I owe it to you and your readers to be able to articulate my positions as best as possible, but I simply need more information before I can do that.

Can you email me with a phone number and a convenient time to talk?

Thank you
Paul Frank
Candidate for City Council