Northbrook puts kibosh on storm sewer geocache
Updated: November 5, 2012 6:09AM
NORTHBROOK — Village officials were not amused to find out that the village storm sewer had become the site of a geocache treasure.
Kelly Hamill, the village’s director of public works and engineering, told the Village Board Monday that he had received a call from the father of a boy who was participating in the hunt for hidden items.
The resident asked for permission to go into the sewer, believing it hosted the hunt, Hamill said.
Geocaching is a world-wide treasure hunt in which small items of limited value are placed in any kind of water proof container and hidden just for the fun of the search, Hamill said.
Then, those participating in the game try to find the containers using coordinates published on a geocaching website using a global positioning device. About two million geocaches have been placed around the world, the locations for which are on various websites, Hamill said.
However, rules state that the stash may not be placed on private property without the permission of the property owner, and the village did not give anyone permission to do so, Hamill said.
“There is no intention for the property to be used in this manner, but someone actually transversed about a half a mile into the storm sewer to place this box,” he added, holding up the approximately four-by-five inch container for the board to see. “People could get stuck or fall in the sewer and we might not be able to get aid to them in a timely fashion.”
Cheryl Fayne-dePersio, the village’s communications manager, said there was doubt that cell phones would even work in the sewer, which are buried several feet beneath the ground.
“What if there was a sudden rush of water? What if the person’s flashlight went out, or it was dropped and the person couldn’t get to it? He or she would be in total darkness,” she asked.
“Also, there could be gases formed in the sewer effecting the quality of the air. This could be extremely dangerous,” she added.
Hamill said he told the resident no permission would be granted for him to go into the sewer, but he sent a member of a sewer crew to get the box, which contained a whistle and a gold medal, which will be thrown away.
He also contacted the geocaching website stating the village’s concerns and that anyone trying to visit it would be trespassing.
Although most members of the board said they had never heard of the game, they expressed surprise that anyone would want to hide the cache in a sewer.
“It’s a liability,” Village Manager Richard Nahrstadt said. “As if the police don’t have enough to do already ...”