Town of Linn board and residents negotiating over historic pillars
TOWN OF LINN—Turn onto Snake Road from Highway 50, drive under a canopy of trees and continue onto Alta Vista Drive until you reach a pair of pillars causing friction between town of Linn homeowners and officials.
Thirteen property owners of nine homes off Alta Vista Drive have hired a lawyer to work on negotiations with the board after one board member asked for the pillars to be removed.
Craig DeYoung, a board member, brought the topic up a few months ago to the board, Jim Weiss, town chairman, said.
He told members that the pillars were in the road's right of way and made it difficult for snowplow trucks to make it in and out, Weiss said.
The two 133-year-old pillars are originals to the Alta Vista Lakefront Mansion built in 1881 on Geneva Lake. The mansion burned down in 1919 before being rebuilt and named the Lakefront Estate, according to the Lake Geneva Estates website.
Previous property owners of the Alta Vista Lakefront Mansion include Orrin Potter, president of Illinois Steel, and the Vick family of Vicks VapoRub, the website states.
Estate residents are vehemently against tearing down the pillars and are trying to get the pillars on state and national historic registries, said John Sullivan, a 25-year resident on the property.
About a month ago, Sullivan saw the town lawyer and an employee come to the properties and say the pillars could be taken down, Sullivan said.
His gut reaction was dismay and confusion.
“They represent the history of Snake Road because this was one of the most outstanding large estates on the lake,” Sullivan said.
After Weiss spoke with the town attorney and head of the highway department, the board members voted unanimously Oct. 13 against removing the pillars and in favor of a compromise.
The pillars would stay and the town continue to plow as long as the owners—as part of the Alta Vista Properties Association—are responsible for all maintenance, repairs and any potential removal. If the pillars or town trucks are damaged while tending to the access road, the owners are financially responsible for pillar and truck repair, Weiss said.
The association has not agreed to the compromise yet, Weiss and Sullivan said.
“We want to try and work well with our neighbors and felt this would be an amicable solution to the issue that was brought to our attention,” Weiss said.
Sullivan echoed that statement.
One alternative would be for the association to make the road private, DeYoung said.
The road is about three-quarters of a mile long, Sullivan said.
The association has contemplated making it private in the past and voted it down because of costs associated with it, Sullivan said.
Owners are thankful the pillars could stay, but unsure about the clause where they would be responsible for damage done to town vehicles.
Natural wear and tear can lead to vehicle damage, plus the drivers would have to be "really negligent" in order to hit the pillars and for the pillars to cause significant damage, Sullivan said.