Bennington green space turned dangerous ditch proving an eyesore for neighbors

Some Bennington residents are frustrated with the size of a nearby basin.
Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 11:11 PM CDT
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BENNINGTON, Neb. (WOWT) - Being overly curious about a flood basin near 150th and Rainwood Road in Bennington could get neighborhood kids in deep trouble with their parents.

“You’re not allowed to come anywhere near this hole, right?” parent Angela Dwornicki said. “That side over there right by our house has the biggest drop-off.”

The corner lot had been green space controlled by the Heritage Homeowners’ Association, which granted the Sanitary Improvement District an easement to dig a large flood control basin.

“The hydrology that has been provided is what’s required for the project, so we protect the homeowners to the east from the 100-year storm event,” said project engineer Jeff LeMontagne.

6 On Your Side contacted the project manager and SID -- in response, neighbors say a mower showed up to improve the look. But the basin isn’t the green space they expect.

“We were promised this would look like a normal lot once they were done, except for the small section of storm sewer they were allowed to put in,” said neighbor Jordan McCarthy. “Everything else was temporary or supposed to be temporary according to the agreement.”

That states the SID agrees to restore the area to its original condition as close as is practical to do so.

“This isn’t supposed to be a giant hole,” said neighbor Mike Hansen. “This is supposed to be a mobile area where we can still run and play and do the things we did prior to construction.”

“It can’t be filled in and be green space due to the hydrology,” LeMontagne said.

Heritage Elementary is right across the street -- any kids who ignore warnings and go exploring could end up getting ditched.

While the inside of the retention basin has been mowed after 6 On Your Side got in touch with the SID and project engineer, there are still plenty of weeds around only a plastic caution fence to protect it -- but the project engineer says they’re not done. If approved by the SID and HOA, a six-foot black wrought-iron fence will be installed around the basin with landscaping added and washouts filled in.

“It will look better, be safer on top of the already safe slopes that are out there,” LeMontagne said.

“It’s terrible,” said neighbor James Dwornicki. “It used to be a nice level green space where we could play softball.”

Homeowners close to the basin say flood protection for neighbors living downhill is important, but they claim the project has gone overboard.

“Like resale value,” James Dwornicki said. “If I ever sell, who’s going to buy a house next to a big hole?”

The project manager estimates the cost of the fence and landscaping would be about $20,000 paid by the SID. He’s open to meeting with neighbors who say they wish to voice their concerns about the basin.