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Article updated: 4/1/2013 5:22 AM

Failed rehab center proposal still resonates in Campton Hills

By Harry Hitzeman

In mid-January Campton Hills trustees voted 4-2 to reject a proposal to open the Kiva Recovery Center, which was the most controversial issue since the village incorporated in 2007.

"This is probably one of the most difficult discussions, issues we've had since we became a village," Trustee Mike Millette said at the time. "I don't need a referendum to see that the weight of public opinion is against (Kiva)."

Kiva officials pledged to take their plan to convert a former school into a 96-bed inpatient treatment center for alcohol and substance abuse to the Kane County Board for consideration, but the effort fizzled in mid-February after a contract to buy the 120-acre site expired.

Of the four candidates seeking three Campton Hills trustee seats in the April 9 election, only one was in support of the plan.

Trustee John Strauss was one of two "yes" votes on the board. He is seeking another 4-year term, along with fellow incumbent Trustees Millette and Al Lenkaitis Jr.

The fourth candidate, newcomer Harry Blecker, became involved in village politics in part because of his opposition to Kiva.

When Millette and Lenkaitis voted against the plan, they said they were following the will of the people.

Blecker said he favors more meetings open to the public and pledged that if elected, he would be responsive to the people's wishes.

"We really have to not only listen to the people but hear what they are saying and act accordingly," Blecker said.

The village does not have its own property tax, so in the failed Kiva annexation, trustees required Kiva to contribute additional funding each year for emergency services in addition to other fees.

In voting in favor of Kiva at the time, Strauss said he was looking at the village's financial future. He also said the recovery center is something needed by society as a whole.

"They very well may have been very successful. We'll never know," Strauss said. "In voting Kiva down, we lost $7.5 million over a 10-year period. It was going to be $200,000, $250,000 more a year (in extra fees) for a long time."

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