Oakwood Hills to rebuild culvert system

OAKWOOD HILLS – In Oakwood Hills, basketballs can cost hundreds of dollars.

The small village of 2,300 people has a growing problem of culverts obstructed by everything from basketballs to decorative rocks and plants that can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars during heavy rainfall.

With no public works department, Oakwood Hills President Melanie Funk said the village had to call in Algonquin Township to clear five culverts during the recent storm. The $100-per-hour service cost the village just less than $1,000, Funk said, which is a significant unexpected cost for a community with a sub-$600,000 budget.

"We are going to be doing a five-year plan to replace all the culverts," Funk said. "They are getting older and some are halfway underground so they need to be dug out."

Funk said board members are in the financial planning stage of the process, but the villagewide renovation to the culvert system would simultaneously remove the silt buildup from aging and manmade obstructions, such as rocks and pebbles that residents placed in culverts for beautification.

The swale portion will be dug deeper and the culverts will be cleaned and flushed but no driveways will be torn up, Funk said.

While the culverts are village-owned, Funk said, many residents have made modifications to beautify those areas and the village has not prevented it. Once the renovations are complete, Funk said, ordinances would be written to clearly state what is and is not allowed in culvert management.

Violations of ordinances likely would result in fines.

"We've had very general ordinances about the culverts that have never really been enforced," Funk said. "We're looking at writing an ordinance so everyone understands and once we clear the culverts when we redo them, violations will be fined."