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Article posted: 4/27/2013 8:00 AM

Elgin will look at Fourth of July options for 2014

By Elena Ferrarin

Elgin will likely participate again in the Fourth of July fireworks show in Hoffman Estates but also will start looking at possibly bringing the fireworks back to town next year.

The first Northwest Fourth Fest -- a collaboration among Hoffman Estates, Elgin, Hanover Park and Hanover Township -- was held last year at Prairie Stone Business Park, where the Sears Centre is located.

Elgin City Manager Sean Stegall said there were many complaints from attendees about traffic, but Hoffman Estates gave the assurance this year's event would be better organized.

"Hoffman Estates understandably had no idea what the event was going to do, and like a lot of things, it exceeded expectations," Stegall said at a city council committee of the whole meeting earlier this week.

Several factors caused problems last year, said Dan O'Malley, deputy village manager for Hoffman Estates.

The village expected about 20,000 people to attend, but an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 showed up, he said.

Also, the village's traffic plan was severely hampered by an accident on Route 59 and a heat-related pavement collapse on Route 72, he said.

This year, Hoffman Estates will expand its traffic control footprint, and evaluate whether to increase staffing, O'Malley said.

"Obviously we're going to make some adjustments," he said.

Elgin currently has no open space that can safely accommodate large-scale fireworks.

Councilwoman Tish Powell proposed looking at Jack E. Cook Regional Park, off Plank Road just north of Muirhead Road, as a site for next year's Fourth of July fireworks.

The city bought the park land a few years ago and is now in the process of moving forward with the initial phase of development.

Other council members, however, pointed out there's an array of factors that need to be examined, including parking and in-and-out access for the park.

Stegall said that beginning this summer the city will begin evaluating all the options for 2014, including having fireworks at Jack E. Cook Regional Park, doing it again in Hoffman Estates, or having some sort of fireworks show downtown.

Last year, Elgin contributed $15,000 in cash plus $7,000 in personnel costs to the event in Hoffman Estates.

Stegall said Elgin was asked to be "more of a full partner" at this year's event but will likely contribute a similar amount. That decision will ultimately be up to the city council in late May or early June, he said.

Last year, Hoffman Estates absorbed a loss of more than $127,000 from Northwest Fourth Fest, O'Malley said. This year, the village is looking for more sponsorships, he said.

The Hanover Park village board is scheduled to vote on a $10,000 contribution to the festival -- the same as last year -- at its May 2 meeting. Hanover Township has approved a $10,000 contribution -- up from $5,000 last year -- along with personnel, said Tom Kuttenberg, community relations manager for the township.

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