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updated: 2/21/2013 5:55 PM

ECC moves ahead with land acquisition

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Elgin Community College officials are moving forward with plans to purchase the remaining 41 acres of the former Spartan Meadows Golf Course from the city of Elgin.

ECC trustees voted to approve the $8 million purchase during a special meeting Wednesday. The actual sale is pending state approval to lift a restriction on the land that says it must be used for educational or recreational means only. ECC wants to maintain the possibility of leasing some of the land along McLean Boulevard to businesses. But Sharon Konny, vice president of business and finance, said there are no set plans for the property in the immediate future.

Konny said purchasing now is a decision more in line with the city's timeline for the sale.

"If we want it, now is the time we have to act," Konny said.

William Cogley, Elgin's corporation counsel, said the city formalized an agreement with ECC in 1995 to sell them the western half of the golf course, with the understanding the city would close it and build The Highlands of Elgin Golf Course across the street. ECC got another 16 acres a few years ago in a land swap deal that left the city with ECC's downtown Fountain Square campus -- a development that is now home to artist housing through Artspace.

With the final 41-acre purchase, ECC will own the entire property that used to be Spartan Meadows.

Cogley said the city plans to use the $8 million from the sale to buy 87 acres at Route 31 and Route 20 that used to be owned by the Elgin Mental Health Center. Owning that property will give the city a chance to expand its adjacent recreational facilities.

"ECC gets the property that's contiguous to them, we get the property that is contiguous to our sports complex," Cogley said. "It's a real benefit to both parties."

Konny said purchase will be funded through a $178 million loan voters authorized in a 2009 referendum.

State Sen. Michael Noland has already introduced a bill to lift the land use restriction on the 41-acre parcel, which would allow ECC and the city to finalize the sale. Cogley expects that to happen before the General Assembly session ends in June.

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