Plainfield Mayor John Argoudelis said he expects a state agency to soon give its decision on the whether the public can use the DuPage River after local property owners have complained of trespassing and littering by patrons of a nearby tubing company.
The mayor’s comments came during Monday’s Plainfield Village Board meeting after the issue received significant attention from residents concerned about potential restrictions to the public’s access of the river. A property owner along the river has asked the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to review the ability of the company, Plainfield River Tubing, to use the river for its business.
Argoudelis said the IDNR informed the village that it is analyzing a recent court decision involving the use of portions of the Mazon River in Grundy County. He told The Herald-News on Wednesday that he got the impression from the IDNR that its decision should come down “in about a month or so.”
“My suggestion is that we will wait for that ruling in order to make any decisions with regard to the legalities of the river company,” Argoudelis said during Monday’s meeting.
He added that the village is a relevant actor in the situation because it granted a business license to Plainfield River Tubing last year and the IDNR’s decision might affect that agreement.
An IDNR spokeswoman said the DuPage River is not a designated public body of water according to state law, which requires the body to be navigable by water craft for commercial purposes.
In the meantime, Argoudelis said, the village is actively trying to address the concerns about patrons of the tubing company allegedly trespassing on private property along the river and littering. He said the village is putting together signage to use on the river. The Plainfield Park District has said it has taken similar measures to ensure river users don’t trespass on private land.
One resident who complained to the village and the IDNR about users’ behavior said during Monday’s meeting that he and his neighbors are concerned about the village’s enforcement of its agreement with the tubing company.
William Sima claimed that some customers using the river do so while in possession of alcohol, which would be a violation of the business license. He said last weekend a group of tubers stopped along the river for more than two hours and some were “harassing” land owners.
Sima said the landowners want the village to “reevaluate and thoroughly audit” its agreement with the tubing company.
Argoudelis told Sima that similar incidents have been brought to the village’s attention. He said village officials are “looking into the agreement and what violations are occurring.”
The mayor told The Herald-News the village is trying to verify the accusations along with photos land owners produced which supposedly show patrons trespassing.
“We are addressing those immediately,” Argoudelis said. “We’re not waiting (for the IDNR’s opinion).”
The mayor also acknowledged Monday that depending on what the IDNR says, “there may not be an agreement going forward” between the tubing company and the village.
The owners of Plainfield River Tubing declined to comment on the legal issues surrounding the public’s use of the river. But they did deny that their customers were trespassing or littering.
“We’ve never seen any evidence that our customers are littering or trespassing,” said Scott Most, who owns the company with his wife, Kris Most.
Scott Most added that if anyone gave them photo or video evidence of one of their customers littering or trespassing, they would take action against that patron.