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Bag of sludge gone, and better communication left in its place

Some residents Oswego had been concerned about whwould happen with this giant bag sludge.  |  Denise Crosby~Sun-Times Media

Some residents in Oswego had been concerned about what would happen with this giant bag of sludge. | Denise Crosby~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 24, 2014 6:16AM

The Ogden Falls blob is at last gone.

And in place of this huge bag of sludge that was causing so much controversy in the Oswego subdivision, there is now more communication among residents and better transparency with its board.

The strange-looking bag was filled with muck that had been sucked out of the subdivision’s pond back in August by Aqua Vac, an Indiana-based pond cleaning company that does this sort of thing all across the country. But this unsightly blob had been locked behind a chain fence in the grassy area next to the pond for weeks, and homeowners weren’t getting answers about their concerns.

Such as, what exactly is in the bag? Was the pond cleaning process handled correctly? And how much was this big bag of sludge costing the homeowners association?

The face behind these questions was resident Janet Aszman, who — along with husband Chuck — began meeting with other concerned homeowners. After complaints began coming in and the story ran, the board sent out a letter stating it followed all proper procedures. And at the November budget meeting, a representative from Aqua Vac gave a presentation on the pond restoration process. The company had told me earlier it could take up to three months to finish drying out before the dirt left behind could be removed and used for landscaping.

The meeting with Aqua Vac provided good information, said Janet Aszman, a retired school teacher.

“But it was too little too late,” she added. “If only they had done that before, then we would have been informed and aware.”

The subdivision landscaper eventually picked up the sludge and made it into a berm along a farmer’s field. But Aszman can’t help but wonder if the dirt will make its way back into the pond over time.

The good news that came from all the controversy is that residents “are more organized now,” says Aszman. The subdivision has its own Facebook page “where we can chat and express our feelings.”

The board, which until that time seemed stingy in its communication with residents, also started a website and Facebook page, although I have to wonder why there needs to be two different sites for the same subdivision.

It’s all about transparency and communication, after all.

Here’s hoping everyone in Ogden Falls gets onto the same page — and stays there.

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