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posted: 9/1/2012 6:39 PM

Can't wait for construction to wrap up on St. Charles' east side

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  • The "Enlighten" sculpture by Margo McMahon of Oak Park is on display at Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles.

      The "Enlighten" sculpture by Margo McMahon of Oak Park is on display at Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer


Having the major street through your city repaired is generally considered a good thing -- when that work is finally completed.

But the work on Main Street through the east side of St. Charles has seemed particularly brutal this summer.

I've moaned about this in past columns from the viewpoint of a person trying to navigate an automobile from one side of town to the other. This particular construction project seems to put a fairly negative spin on the sights and sounds of the east side.

The Charlestowne Mall is nearly deserted, other than a few anchors and a movie theater, and the strip mall areas across the street also have numerous vacancies. But things don't look much brighter traveling west toward downtown when the street is all torn up -- making it hard to tell what businesses are opened or closed.

Cars from a nearby auto dealer fill the lot at the former Rex's Cork 'n Fork, likely making visitors to the city actually think that restaurant is still open. Sadly, it is not.

The empty Bakers Square site is finally leveled, but it's just a big pile of dirt and construction fencing until work begins on an auto-parts store.

Everything on the south side of the road construction is torn up right up to the front entrances, it seems, of homes and businesses. It looks like a war zone.

Granted, this kind of work has taken place throughout our area for summers on end. But maybe the mix of a struggling economy and a massive road project make it seem to me like things just aren't fair for our local businesses.

Sculpture double-take: When my wife said, "What's with the naked kids playing basketball?" as we were walking through Mount St. Mary Park in St. Charles, it certainly grabbed my attention.

Turns out, she was referring to a sculpture called "Enlighten" by Margo McMahon of Oak Park. At first glance, it indeed looks like a couple of youngsters playing hoops sans clothes. But upon closer review, the young lads do indeed have clothes on -- it's just rather difficult to tell from a distance.

It's a great sculpture, however, much like the others on display this year in the park. If you haven't had a chance to see them, be sure to do so as we hopefully move into some great walking weather as summer turns into autumn.

Making political hay: Finally, a worthy cause will benefit from the Obama vs. Romney rhetoric. This time we'll laugh at the presidential campaign because the Second City comedy theater will present "Second City for President" at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre.

The night of laughs will raise funds for the theater and the Batavia Public Library.

Tickets are $39, $34, and $29, and are available online at, at the BFAC box office, or by phone, (630) 937-8930.

For what it's worth: This isn't a particularly brilliant idea, so maybe it qualifies just as an opinion. In fact, the Geneva School Board has certainly discussed it.

The empty Coultrap school building should be knocked down so the school district can use that land for more parking, unless the need for another athletic field were to arise.

Those who attended Coultrap understandably have a soft spot in their hearts for the structure and wax nostalgic at the thought of it disappearing. But school buildings usually don't hold any particular architectural significance worth saving.

The former Mount St. Mary and, later, Valley Lutheran High School in St. Charles was a local school that may have qualified for architectural and historical value. But it was torn down to make way for townhouses.

Also, do Batavia residents still wish the old high school/junior high building on Wilson and Batavia Avenue would have been saved in lieu of building a beautiful new library? I doubt it.

More than a decade ago, the Geneva school board was hoping to obtain Anderson Boulevard properties and knock down homes to clear the way for more parking. If that notion didn't bother a previous board, then current board members certainly can't be squeamish about knocking down a building the district already owns.

Dancing night away: Jamie Vargo proved she could operate a successful ballroom dance studio in downtown Geneva, and now she's proven she knows how to throw a party.

Vargo invited friends, supporters and her students to attend a celebration party last Monday night for the studio's anniversary. The revelry took place at EvenFlow Music and Spirits, which opened in the old State Bank Building at 302 W. State St. nearly three months ago.

It had been a long time since I was in that building, which has housed a few restaurants prior to Mike Knuth and Nick Mercadante opening their restaurant/night club operation.

An extremely happy Vargo talked about having future dance parties at EvenFlow and Villa Verone. In addition, her studio helps host the monthly Geneva Dance Club events, which feature the live music of St. Charles resident Gil DeLaPaz and his "Front Cover Sensations."

In short, the places to trip the light fantastic are growing in Geneva.

Congratulations, guys: Congratulations must go out to the young fellows who make up the St. Charles alternative rock band The Giving Moon, which played at the House of Blues in Chicago last weekend after earning that honor through a series of competitions against plenty of seasoned musicians.

And here I thought it was kind of cool when my garage band played at The Barn in Naperville in 1967. We messed up the song, "House of the Rising Sun," but otherwise fared well in a local battle of the bands.

But a group of local 14-year-olds playing at the House of Blues? Now that's a lasting memory.

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