The master concept plan for the redevelopment of the 700-acre campus along Fabyan Parkway, including the old landfills, is now the official vision for the site.
Both the Kane County Board and Kane County Forest Preserve Commission voted in favor of the plan Tuesday. But residents who have Fabyan Woods for their backyards and county board members who have environmental fears about building on landfills, said the plan lacks detail and assumes too much. And a huge difference of opinion still exists on what to do with the old county jail site.
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"Ultimately, Waste Management's concerns can derail the entire project from beginning to end," said county board member Melisa Taylor, who voted against the concept plan. Six other board members joined her dissent.
Several echoed Taylor's concerns that no civil engineering or environmental approval has been received from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Waste Management oversees the old landfills and has only provided a letter urging the board to not forget the unique caution that must be taken with heavy construction near a landfill.
But other county board members had issues with the plan calling for a golf course expansion and/or a hotel and convention venue on the site of the old county jail.
Board member Jim Mitchell called for the jail site to be removed from the plan. Mitchell said a previous county board committed to selling the old jail site and using the money to pay off some of the borrowing used to fund the construction of the new county jail.
"If you really want to keep a promise, go back to the promise we made to taxpayers in spending $50 million on building a new jail," Mitchell said.
He didn't get enough votes to support him. The old jail site remains in the concept plan for redevelopment. But board members remain divided on keeping or selling the land.
Board member Phil Lewis said the county should keep the land and create an arboretum on the site.
"I can't imagine why, in the long-term interests of the citizens of Kane County, why we would consider selling 27 acres of the southern gateway to our site," Lewis said. "It make no sense to me at all."
Lewis' vision still has a chance at becoming reality. The concept plan will serve as a general guideline for what officials think is possible at the 700-acre site. However, each aspect of the plan, from the cross country track to a proposed observation tower, will receive its own review before anything is actually constructed.