RI steps up compensation for properties damaged by water main break


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Originally Posted Online: March 18, 2013, 9:31 pm
Last Updated: March 18, 2013, 11:29 pm
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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

The Rock Island City Council has agreed to increase compensation to three homeowners whose properties were badly damaged by a city water main break in December.

Earlier this month, City Manager Thomas Thomas had proposed offering 50 percent or just under $80,000 of the estimated cost of the damage to the owners of 1523, 1525 and 1527 36th St.

But at Monday's council meeting Ald. Joy Murphy, 6th Ward, proposed increasing the compensation to as much as $160,000 combined. She received unanimous support from the council.

A nearby water tower was drained of 500,000 gallons of water in a few hours as a result of the water main break.

The homes at 1523 and 1527 36th St. were left uninhabitable after water gushed into the basements of the properties on Dec. 27. The home at 1525 36th St. suffered significant damage, but was not condemned by the city.

Under state law, the city had no obligation to pay any money to the homeowners unless it could be proven the city knew the water main was defective before the flood.

Homeowners on 37th Street whose properties were damaged by a water main break last fall received compensation equal to 50 percent of the cost of the damages. But Mayor Dennis Pauley said the flooding on 36th Street was "unique" because the damage was so severe.

As part of the agreement, the city will take ownership of the two condemned properties and demolish them.

Lynette Anderson, whose basement at 1525 35th St. was damaged by the water main break said she was pleased by the council's decision. She was to receive about $10,000 in compensation, but now will receive more.

"It sounds like a good outcome," she said.

City Attorney Ted Kutsunis will negotiate with homeowners to determine exactly how much compensation each will receive.

Brandon Foley, who lives at 1527 36th St., was to receive about $40,000, or half the value of his $80,000 home, which the city has condemned. He said he considered legal action and previously criticized the city for only offering to cover half the cost of the damages.

In other business on Monday, the council agreed to provide $135,000 to cover part of the cost of a project to build three new homes across the lots at 606, 608, 614 and 618 10th St.

The money will be used by the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation and includes $90,000 in tax-increment-finance funds from the North 11th Street TIF.

Property tax assessments are frozen in a TIF district. But as property values increase, revenue above the frozen assessment all goes to the city and can then be spent on development projects.

The total cost of the project could reach $600,000, according to council documents, and money from a state program also will be used to support the development.

Also at Monday's meeting, the council agreed to pay $260,000 to engineering firm Missman Inc., of Rock Island, to design construction plans for improvements to 11th Street and 9th Street, and perform a traffic corridor study.

The improvements will support a new development at the intersection of 11th and 9th streets where the new Black Hawk adult learning center is being built. The Black Hawk facility is moving from Watch Tower Plaza on 11th Street to clear the way for a new Walmart Supercenter.



















 



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