Rock Island and Milan battle over levee

A proposed $55 million dollar retail development in the Quad Cities remains in flux, neighboring communities are butting heads over any plan going forward.

Rock Island mayor Dennis Pauley says Milan’s not budging on plans to build a needed road through the levee near Jumer’s.  However, leaders in Milan are telling a different story.

Randy Wlaskolich remembers the flood of 1965 on Big Island in Illinois.

“The whole island was practically submerged,” said Wlaskolich.

Randy volunteers to maintain the levee and is against any changes being made to it.

“This thing was built back in 1984.  It holds, it works, why mess with it?” said Wlaskolich.

However, changes need to happen for Rock Island to move forward with a road leading to a new development. Milan leaders have to submit Rock Island’s plans to the Army Core of Engineers, but according to Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley, Milan refuses to do that.

“I don’t think that’s much in the spirit of cooperation of cities to have a press conference announcing we’re going to sue another city, because they’re not doing what we want,” said Milan’s mayor, Duane Dawson.

Dawson says Milan officials have told Rock Island several times that they want a full plan, not just the 30 percent of it they say Rock Island has provided.

“We’re very protective of our levee. We really don’t want any changes to that levee, but if there’s a program that would allow us to be happy with, it wouldn’t be out of the question.”

Dawson says his door is always open to talk.

“This is their project, not ours, if they want to meet I think it’s up to them to contact us and set up meetings and we’re ready to sit down,” said Dawson.

Dawson says Milan officials have talked to other engineers who said it’s never wise to tamper with a levee and, if a breach was to happen to the levee, the village of Milan could have five to six feet of water in town.

The plan for Jumer’s Crossing is a mix of retail and residential with restaurants, possibly an outlet mall.  The city bought the 92-acre site back in February for a million dollars.