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posted: 7/18/2012 12:09 PM

Kane officials want more studies before deciding on Fabyan

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  • Mike Donahue

    Mike Donahue

  • Jim Mitchell

    Jim Mitchell

  • Barb Wojnicki

    Barb Wojnicki


Kane County's trash might some day become a treasure, but officials set a slow pace for implementing a task force's vision for redeveloping the campus that includes the Settler's Hill landfill this week.

A task force presented its vision for redeveloping the 700-acre campus on Fabyan Parkway Tuesday to the county board's Development Committee. The vision includes plans to bring a small concert venue, mountain biking trails and a cross country facility to the campus along with possibly a hotel/convention center on the old county jail site.

Task force Chairman Mike Donahue requested the county proceed with an economic impact study of the various plan elements to determine the true costs associated with each one.

"I think it's in the best interests of the county to maximize the value of the site," Donahue said. "With the old jail, whether we sell it for private development, retain ownership and lease the property or convey it to the forest preserve, there's a policy decision to make."

A county committee already rejected the economic impact study in favor of first deciding if any of the proposals isn't even worth further consideration.

First on the hit list may be the idea of a concert venue. A band shell was already nixed from the part of the campus that houses the eastern portion of Fabyan Woods. County board Member Jim Mitchell cited the recent well-attended Wilco concert at nearby Fifth Third Bank Ballpark -- home of the Kane County Cougars -- as evidence more concert space isn't needed.

"I see that as taking money away from the Cougars," Mitchell said of a band shell. "There are less intrusive things. I urge the committee to look at those first."

That will likely be the plan of action going forward. County board member and Kane County Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit said he's in favor of a staged approach to investigating and implementing the ideas. The easiest idea to implement is the creation of the new trails, including accommodating the cross country facility that everyone has supported thus far, Hoscheit said.

But board member Barb Wojnicki said all of the ideas should wait until an environmental impact study is performed and Waste Management, which runs the landfill, puts its views of the redevelopment in writing.

"It's a beautiful plan when we look at it, but we have to know what's under that land, especially if we're talking about building stormwater ponds," Wojnicki said. "Not to be doom and gloom, but I think dollars do need to be set aside for a potential catastrophe because we are building on a landfill."

There are funds already set aside to address a potential disaster. But there have been no specific environmental impact studies on any of the redevelopment ideas. The disaster money is one of two accounts the county controls that are relevant to the redevelopment. The other account, the enterprise fund, contains money earmarked for improving the landfill site.

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