A parent’s plea for local governing agencies to address a safety concern near a Buffalo Grove park has officials from all three bodies saying they don't have the authority to intervene.
Construction recently began on a new home in Long Grove’s Eastgate Lane subdivision, just behind . A two-foot silt fence surrounds the construction site, and is the only barrier to the park, which is in Buffalo Grove’s Strathmore Grove neighborhood, near .
Thus far, the home’s basement has been dug, but no foundation covers the top, leaving a large pit visible from the park. A construction vehicle and piles of dirt are nearby.
“There’s no fence keeping out young children who want to wander over there,” said Buffalo Grove resident Eric Scott, who lives near the site. “From the point of view of a child playing at the park, interested in checking out big machinery, it would be easy for them to get into that site.”
Many children pass by the park as they walk to and from school, said Scott, a father of two. He said he has also noticed caregivers fail to keep close tabs on young children as they play. He fears that a child might hop the short barrier and become injured by construction machinery or fall into the exposed concrete basement.
“I know these are ‘what ifs,’ but my feeling is it doesn’t look like it would take much to set up a temporary barrier to prevent something from happening,” Scott said.
No government officials contacted by Buffalo Grove Patch argued that the environment is safe, but all of them said they can’t do anything to address it.
A Buffalo Grove Park District official said that the construction site, on a Long Grove parcel that juts into Buffalo Grove, is out of the park district’s jurisdiction. And a Long Grove official said that according to that village's code, which does not require protective barriers around construction sites, the homebuilder is doing nothing wrong.
“While I understand where Mr. Scott is coming from, and I applaud his efforts to go above and beyond to help keep kids safe, I don’t know that there’s anything we can do here,” said park district spokesman Mike Terson. “We don’t have any jurisdiction and we cannot assume other people’s liability. It’s not the park district’s responsibility to make a private resident’s construction site safe. “
“We cannot assume that liability and it would not be wise to use park district resources in that manner,” he said.
The silt fence around the site is required by Lake County. Its purpose is not to keep people out, but to prevent soil from leaving the construction site, said Long Grove Village Manager David Lothspeich.
“We don’t require any other additional protective fencing,” Lothspeich said.
After being made aware Wednesday of Scott’s safety concerns, he said Long Grove's village staff would follow up with the homebuilder to see if any additional barriers can be put in place.
"We can’t require it, but we will talk to the builder to see if we can convince him it’s the right thing to do,” Lothspeich said.
If the construction site were in Buffalo Grove, it would be required to be fenced off, said Deputy Building Commissioner Brian Sheehan. Excavation sites are generally protected by 6- to 8-foot fences, he said.
Sheehan said a Buffalo Grove village inspector visited Camelot Park to assess the situation and then contacted a Long Grove building official about the concern.
That’s all Buffalo Grove can do, Sheehan said. “We can’t fence off a property that’s not in our jurisdiction,” he said.
Scott said he understands the limitations of the park district and the two villages, but he hopes the parties will decide to come together to find a solution.
“I think it’s something where people have to close the rule book and say, ‘It’s an accident ready to happen. Let’s decide to do something to make sure young kids are safe,’” he said.