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Tempers flare on Dalzell road work

DALZELL — Dalzell Village Board members argued, cursed and yelled at each other at a tension-filled meeting last week that centered around a 338-foot strip of land and who really owns it.

“Let’s work together for the benefit of the village,” Mayor Gloria Orlandi said during the argument.

The land in question is a strip that goes from Sunset Lane to the village lift station. The land is currently owned by resident Ken Bernabei, but an easement puts responsibility for the care of the road in the hands of the village.

The village had $75,000 in grant funds available for roadwork and other projects. At an Oct. 13 special meeting, board members discussed where that money should go, including the possibility of paving that stretch to the lift station.

Universal Asphalt and Excavating of LaSalle bid $59,968 for work on Lucy Street and the village hall parking lot, leaving about $15,000. It was the assertion of some aldermen that board member Randy Bernabei said at that special meeting the city owned the property, and the cost could be put toward the grant. A review of the tape from the special meeting revealed Randy Bernabei did not mention that street specifically, and in the motion, simply stated various streets in the city. This could have been an issue since the city does not own the land. Any work done on the roadway could not have used grant money and would have come out of the village’s pocket.

Ultimately, the work was completed on the roadway, and the time and materials were donated by Universal Contracting. The work was not included in any bills for the grant.

Board members argued about making decisions on the road and its ownership without being properly informed, along with whose responsibility it was. Board member Sean Thompson said the item should have been tabled until the information was obtained.

“Ignorance is no excuse,” Thompson said.

Orlandi stepped in to stop the fighting and bring the meeting to order.

“There is no one-man team here,” Orlandi said. “The people put you here, and the people can put you off.”

Each committee has three people on it, and they should keep each other informed, Orlandi said. The village committees were organized well, but if the arguing continues, she said she would change them all.

It was suggested the village contact Ken Bernabei about transferring that strip of land to the city to make sure this confusion doesn’t happen again.

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