Dave and Linda Evans of Lake Hallie are asking state officials to either buy their property and pay for their moving expenses or re-engineer and rebuild a nearby retention pond.
The couple say alterations to the pond on adjoining property — made about 3½ years ago by the village and state — resulted in the flooding of their basement, damage to their property and loss of thousands of dollars.
A couple of weeks ago, the retirees who live at 1447 116th St., sent a letter to state and federal lawmakers, including Gov. Tony Evers, hoping for a resolution.
“We don’t have any other options,” said Dave, who has a bad heart. “Who else is going to want to buy this place.”
According to the couple:
More than three years ago, Lake Hallie and the state enlarged the storm retention pond at the corner of Melby and 118th streets to accommodate increased drainage from new curb and gutter and a new business on 118th.
“The retention pond they enlarged on the adjoining property was improperly built and is too shallow,” the couple wrote in their letter. “The floor of the pond is about five feet above our basement.
“The normal water table should have been at least 30 feet; at this time, it was only about four.”
The couple first realized there was a problem when Linda, who had a sewing room in their finished basement, got up to get something from the east end of the basement.
“I stepped on the carpet and went sploosh,” she said.
The Evans were pumping 150 to 200 gallons of water a day out of their basement with a portable electric pump and two Shop-vacs.
The couple hired a contractor to install a french drain, a trench filled with a perforated pipe and gravel or rock that allows water to drain naturally, from the east end of the house and partway down their driveway. The cost was about $16,000.
“The drain seemed to work, but the following spring, we had water coming in on the north and south sides of the basement, and we were back to pumping water … ,” they said.
The couple hired another contractor to install an interior drain system and a second sump pump, totaling another $12,000. Some additional work on this is needed.
“When they had the trenches dug, you could see the water flowing, and there was an oil slick on the water,” the couple wrote.
They hired an attorney for $3,500 to file a claim with the state and a hydrogeologist for another $2,000 to confirm the water was coming from the pond.
“With the report from the hydrogeologist, the state finally admitted that the retention pond was built wrong, but we’re not going to do anything about it … ,’” the couple wrote.
The couple has a sump pump that runs nearly continuously, and there is so much water under the concrete floor that it is seeping up through the concrete.
Dave and Linda don’t spend as much time in their once-finished basement as used to — her sewing and him working on model cars. It’s considerably cooler down there now and smells musty. Most of the carpet is gone, some of the wall coverings have been removed, and their possessions are stored in plastic totes.
Outside, the water has damaged the landscaping, the couple’s apple trees are producing little to no fruit, and Dave and Linda are reluctant to eat any fruit it does produce.
The couple have homeowners’ insurance, but initially, they didn’t have flood insurance (they do now), so they had to cover the cost of damage.
“It’s just disgusting,” Linda said. “When I bought the place (in 2002), I thought, ‘That’s it. I’m done.’” (She turns 80 this year.)
Potential future issues keep Dave up at night.
“I firmly believe the floor and walls will start settling and compromise the whole structure,” said Dave, who once worked as a surveyor. “With the saturation point where it is, it could very well be too late already. We have exhausted our reverse mortgage and stand to lose everything if something is not done.”
The Evans have found one sympathetic official — state Sen. Kathy Bernier, R-Lake Hallie.
After visiting the area, Bernier believes the pond “is designed to flow right into the neighborhood.”
“Nobody will take responsibility for this, and I don’t know what to do,” the lawmaker said.
Gary Spilde, president of the Lake Hallie Village Board, said he didn’t think the pond had been altered that much, and officials from Ayres Associates, an architectural and engineering firm, came out after 118th Street was put in, looked at the area and made some recommendations.
“We haven’t heard anything since then, so this is news to me,” Spilde said of the Evans’ issues.
“They haven’t approached the board about it,” he said. “If they are still having problems, they can come to a board meeting and tell us.”
Because of the Fourth of July holiday, state Department of Transportation officials familiar with the area couldn’t be reached for comment.
“If the state were to buy us out at fair market value and reimburse us for legal fees and the expenses we have incurred ... and pay our moving expenses, we would be more than happy,” the couple said.