Unapproved work begins on new Fox River fire station
Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District officials decided to gamble Monday by breaking ground on a new Station No. 3 even before Kane County Board members take a final vote on approving the project.
Earth work began on the new station at 6N330 Route 25 Monday. The station will be built on the home of the old Wise-Hamlin Plastic Factory.
District officials are in a bit of a rush to open the new station by Feb. 1, before the lease on the current location of Station No. 3 expires. The current home of Station No. 3 is actually outside the district's service area.
To reach the Feb. 1 goal, district officials said they worked with Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon and County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen to secure a contingent permit to begin work.
"Where there is no known opposition to a project, the county has typically allowed work to begin, particularly where it is a governmental agency," said fire district attorney Ken Shepro.
But that work comes at a risk. If the county board rejects the plan for any reason, the fire district would be forced, at taxpayer cost, to tear out any work already performed on the new station. The county board is set to vote on the plan Sept. 10.
The actual plan for the fire station has changed a bit since the county board's Development Committee moved it through with no concerns. To speed up construction and cut costs, fire district President Jim Gaffney, elected to delete the basement shown in the original plans.
No basement means six weeks less of construction and $170,000 in savings for taxpayers. Both Gaffney and Shepro said they don't think there is much risk of rejection by the county board.
"We've got no negative coming from anybody," Gaffney said. He pointed to the more than 30 supporters of the project who showed up during the county's zoning board hearing.
"That's unprecedented," Shepro said of the support. "People never come out to say they're in support of something."
That community support is something the fire district is hoping to see more of. District officials are forming a committee to seek donations to place a flagpole and electronic display sign outside the new home of Station No. 3. Those items carry a price tag of about $32,000.
Longer term, the community support will also likely be necessary, in the form of a referendum, when the district decides to build a Station No. 4. District officials already purchased a seven-acre parcel of land at the intersection of Crane and Bolcom roads near St. Charles for the eventual station. Gaffney said that station is five to 10 years away from even becoming a possibility.
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