Big Island
Quad-City Times

The city of Rock Island may file a lawsuit that ultimately could allow it to pursue development of the $55 million Jumer's Crossing project, a retail and residential development on Big Island.

But that means some changes in the Big Island levee system, and the decision to pursue it is up to the village of Milan and the Big Island Conservancy District, which are responsible for maintaining the elaborate flood-control system.

During a Monday news conference, Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley said Milan village officials and conservancy district members have been unwilling to meet to discuss the project.

He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires at least a 30 percent plan of the total project to be presented to the Corps so it can determine whether the project is viable.

"Since the city of Rock Island is not a local sponsor of the levee adjacent to the project site, it cannot submit its proposal directly to the Corps; we must submit our proposal to the village of Milan and the Big Island Conservancy, for them to pass on to the Corps," Pauley said in a news release.

He said the proposal, which contained 30 percent of the city's plan detail, was completed and presented to Milan and the conservancy Aug. 24, 2012.

"Since then, the city staff and I have continued our efforts to try and work with the village of Milan and Big Island Conservancy to have them present the plan to the Corps," Pauley said in the release. "They have chosen not to submit the plan to the Corps, despite its compliance with the Corps's stated requirements. Unfortunately, they show no signs of willingness to ever submit the plan."

Milan Village Administrator Steve Seiver, when contacted later, described a different scenario.

"We will certainly sit down with Rock Island and who they have retained for their technical services," he said. "But the submitals they gave us to date are not complete plans. We have told them we would not review non-complete submittals. We have said that in person, on the phone and by email."

Pauley said because the city has to rely on the village and the conservancy to review the plan and ultimately pass it onto the Corps, a special meeting will be held Sept. 12 with the city Board of Local Improvements. That is when the board will "consider a resolution which will allow the city to seek legal authority to become the sole sponsor of the section of the levee immediately adjacent to its property, thus allowing Rock Island to submit the 30 percent plan directly to the Corps."

"Either they want to threaten us to do this if we don't come to the table, or they want to do this and be the sole sponsor," Seiver said. "We have not turned them down. What we have communicated to Rock Island a year-and-a-half ago, we will not review a partial set of plans. That is not fair to us."

The city of Rock Island and village of Milan have been at odds over a Big Island development in the past. A dispute over whether to permit mining on the island ultimately was settled by a judge in 2004, who ruled the village and the conservancy are in charge. Some residents and some Milan officials think the city is trying to challenge the two groups' authority and have their sights set on altering a large portion of the levee.

Of the 45 Big Island homeowners being asked to chip in $50 each for a new road for the development, every one of them objects, according to recent special assessment letters.