Council hears dispute between boat club, land owners

EVANSTON — An evening breeze blew across Sulphur Creek Reservoir on Tuesday, July 31, as contentions simmered over discussions regarding a controversial easement issue involving the City of Evanston, the local boat club and the Lester family. 

One week prior, the Evanston City Council introduced what will likely be a prolonged discussion regarding the land the city leases to the boat club. For decades, members of the boat club have gained access to the leased land by passing though the Lesters’ land via an easement entered by the city and the Lesters several decades ago. 

In recent years, the Lesters have developed their home and property and no longer wish to have the traffic pass through. This adjustment has left the boat club attendees being asked to use a new road that is currently, in their opinion, underdeveloped and unsatisfactory.  

Mayor Kent Williams and the rest of the city council met at Sulphur Creek to discuss the issue and get a visual representation of what the lay of the land is. 

“Right now, I don’t have any answers at all for either side,” Williams said to the representatives from the boat club and Roy and Nadine Lester. 

The Lesters, who have been eager to move the boat club traffic to the new road, have made improvements to the road in recent months including $3,000 in road fill. 

Roy Lester said that he is willing to dig ditches to improve the road in the spring time for the boat club. 

“When human lives are at stake, there shouldn’t be a place for anything but change,” said Roy Lester, who is concerned about his horses and grandchildren who play in the yard the old road comes through. 

To this the boat club rebuts that its members are respectful with their speed and use of the road. The club has leased the city property for several decades. 

The club members’ concern is that the new road will flood in the spring and remain muddy and rutted throughout the season. 

Jeana Reichenberg of the boat club calls the land the Lesters are trying to put the new boat club road on a “swamp,” claiming that much of the discussions regarding this issue are being held behind closed doors. 

The Lesters hope to transfer the boat club thoroughfare from their front yard to another piece of their land above their home.   

“I am trying to protect the access to the city property and the mayor is trying to give it away,” said Reichenberg. 

The city council will search for answers in the law and the paperwork regarding the history of the easements. The issue is ongoing as the proposed road will likely need to be seen in the spring time, during a wetter season.

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