Royal Lakes, IL. (ECWd) -
We were contacted by a couple who had been trying to get their home connected to city water and sewer for close to 2 years, only to be continually told "no" by the Royal Lakes Village President.
Royal Lakes is a small community located in southern Macoupin County. It was to be developed as a resort-style recreational community in the 1950s primarily for East St. Louis and St. Louis residents. It incorporated as a Village in 1972 and its first Village President took office in 1973. The 2010 census counted 197 residents.
The Carmickle family moved to Royal Lakes a couple of years ago, looking for a new place to call home. They purchased several lots in the Village to place a cabin on. Their first problem arose when they tried having a cabin hauled in on a tractor-trailer. The Village President told them they could not use village roads - but that did not matter since their property abutted a state highway. They eventually got the cabin in place.
Next came electricity connections. The electric company had no problems connecting the cabin, but once again, the Carmickle's say the village president told the electric company to disconnect them. A few phone calls later and electricity was restored.
Then came water and sewer connections from the village. Application forms were completed and filled out, deposits paid, but each and every month went by with no water or sewer connections. The village president refused to connect it - and even told them they would never get connected. Eventually, the un-cashed connection/deposit fee money order was returned.
The Carmickle's had resorted to hauling water from a nearby village, paying for a porta-potty every month, and taking showers in a camper. They washed clothes in an antique table-top clothes washer and collected water from the air conditioner to use for cleaning. They truly made water conservation into an art form in order to survive. They were forced into near-primitive living conditions by the village they chose to live in.
After learning of their situation, we got involved to figure out what the problem was, and after attending one village meeting, the Village President changed his mind and stated that the Carmickles would be connected to village water and sewer. This took almost an additional 2 months, but they finally have city running water and sewer - which is all they asked for.
We will publish future articles on their village meetings and other village issues found in our investigation.
Driving thru the village today, it appears to be lacking in basic infrastructure maintenance; the roads are all pot-hole ridden, vacant yards are unkempt, and the lakes appear to have been let go. One of the public access points to a lake has been blocked by a wire-rope acting as a gate. Abandoned vehicles are in the village along with burned-out or abandoned trailers/houses. The sewage treatment system appears unkempt. Some of the residences are maintained, but for the most part, they are lacking general maintenance. Royal Lakes has a history of public corruption (in previous administrations) and has lost its ability to qualify for state and federal grants and assistance because of it.
The village has not filed its required annual financial reports with the Comptroller in at least the past three years.
Royal Lakes has potential as a beautiful vacation/living community should they take care of, and improve on what they have, but until the village can decide to operate itself in a professional manner, it will remain exactly how it is today.