The once grand land owned by Moline’s most famous citizen is literally going downhill, after recent rains washed out a big chunk of the crumbling retaining wall below the former home of agriculture giant John Deere.
“You haven’t seen anything yet. There’s more coming. Just look at that hill,” said Bill McNalley, a Moline resident who has lived across the street from the property for nearly 45 years.
Chunks of concrete, and lots of mud toppled onto the sidewalk on street Tuesday night, making a bad situation worse.
“When the soil gets wet, it really bears against those walls and that’s what happened the other night,” said City Administrator Lew Steinbrecher. “We’ve known this wall has been in bad condition for several years.”
Roger Colmark of Sterling owns the land but has not paid property taxes on it since 2007 and says it’s not his problem anymore.
The city says it is Colmark’s responsibility to rectify the erosion and take care of the crumbling, muddy mess.
“We’ve used citations and court orders and had very little compliance over the years,” said Steinbrecher.
Steinbrecher said the most recent estimate to properly shore up the hillside and avoid a collapse is around $700,000. A price-tag as steep as the sliding hill.
“I think it’s very unfortunate for the city to ask the taxpayers of a community to pay for a property owner who takes no responsibility for his parcel of land,” Steinbrecher said.
Right now the city is stuck with cleaning up the mess left behind after this week’s rains, and has placed barricades and crime scene tape around the area to try and keep pedestrians safe and out of harms way. At some point, that’s not going to be enough.
“I don’t know what the end result will be. It’s an unfortunate situation because we have a non-responsive land owner,” Steinbrecher said. “It was not our wall. It is not our wall.”