Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014, 11:55 pm

Candle Light Community owner addresses Coal Valley board about water, sewer fees

Comment on this story

By Sarah Hayden, shaydenqconline@gmail.com

COAL VALLEY -- Trustees on Wednesday heard from Candle Light Community mobile home park owner Walter Blackard, who raised issues with water and sewer fees and abandoned trailers.

Mr. Blackard said he has been overcharged for water and sewer service since he bought the park in 1995.

"My goals are to get something accomplished or go to whatever the next step is," he said. "I'm being overcharged, and it has to stop. I'm paying an average of $10,000 a month. For $10,000 a month, I'm getting nothing."

Mr. Blackard buys water from the village and sells it to park residents, charging them the same rate as village residents, who pay $9.29 per 1,000 gallons.

Coal Valley gives Mr. Blackard a dollar discount per 1,000 gallons of metered water. He said the discount does little more than help pay for maintenance of pipes, valves and for the employment of a full-time plumber to maintain more than 4.5 miles of underground plumbing.

He said his main complaint is that water from Coal Valley is not clean enough to distribute without being chlorinated first.

"Now that I'm a satellite supplier of your water supply, I have to comply with EPA regulations," Mr. Blackard said. "I had to put over 1,000 pounds of chlorine in the system in December, and over 1,200 (pounds) in January. That's over $1,000 just to get the water pottable. I'm spending a fortune to keep the water safe for people to drink."

Mr. Blackard also said the village's flush valve is near Candle Light Community and when it is opened, his property floods.

"I have to pay to pump it out of the property. I can't have standing water, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. So, my property will never be dry. I have mosquitoes and other problems," he said.

He said he also pays about $900 each month for mobile homes that are not connected to water service.

Mayor Emil Maslanka suggested Mr. Blackard meet with utilities superintendent Stephen Mullen and physically walk the property to count the number of active water taps.

Mr. Blackard appeared with his attorney Glenn Ruud who presented board members with the draft of an agreement asking the village to obtain the titles to abandoned mobile homes at Candle Light Community.

"If you don't use the correct legal procedure, you risk the lien holder or homeowner showing up," Mr. Ruud said. "Occasionally, Walt has been able to go in and purchase the home in a tax sale. Beyond that, if it's abandoned and doesn't have any value, it doesn't make sense for Walt to bid, just to haul it away to a landfill.

"We're looking for some sort of cooperative agreement with the village. This would remove Walt from being the village removal agent."

Mr. Ruud said there would be minimal cost to the village for obtaining titles, but it would benefit Coal Valley to have the abandoned homes gone.

Mr. Blackard said it costs him $1,500 to remove and scrap a mobile home to the landfill, and $1,000 if he's able to do it onsite. Candle Light Community has 11 abandoned mobile homes, and another 10 with titles that will soon be removed.

Mr. Maslanka said the village attorney Bill Phares would have to look at the written proposal before agreeing on any terms.