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updated: 9/14/2013 5:16 PM

St. Charles' First Street project still a hot topic

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  • Some people in St. Charles would like the open space on the east side of the First Street redevelopment project to remain open, rather than become the next phase of the project.

      Some people in St. Charles would like the open space on the east side of the First Street redevelopment project to remain open, rather than become the next phase of the project.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer


It's probably time to move on to another fantasy of some sort.

But readers continue to have their say nearly a month after I asked what they might fix in the area if they could do so with a snap of their fingers.

One "snap" that was mentioned quite often doesn't seem to be working out so well. Readers continue to drop me notes, expressing a desire to keep the current open land in place on the east side of the First Street redevelopment project in downtown St. Charles. The city intends to move forward as best it can with the next phase of the project with commercial and residential units -- and, of course, a chance to get a tax return on the property.

Some don't like the thought of the view of the city's municipal building being blocked from the south by a new set of buildings along the Fox River, but that's been an argument since the redevelopment project first surfaced five years ago. Others see it as a potential gathering place and green spot in the heart of downtown.

"I was hoping that after all of the positive use (of the open space) for festivals and art shows, the city would see the mistake it is making. They could have at least allowed others to come up with more creative usage and bids," one reader said in an email.

Arts and the mall: Another wish that continues to come up is for part of the Charlestowne Mall to be reserved for St. Charles Arts Council exhibits, shows and presentations. The idea stems from the council having an art gallery set up in one of the empty store spaces in the mall. The concept of Charlie's Center for the Arts could fit into a mall setting, I suppose.

Depending on what happens at the mall in the coming year, I would think new owners would see the wisdom in having something to draw people into the place while it is undergoing (hopefully) positive changes.

The fact that the council's significant citywide arts celebration wraps up Sunday tells you that the folks supporting the arts around here aren't fading into the sunset anytime soon.

An Eye for volunteers: Batavia stages a nice art show each year with its Art in Your Eye festival. But it doesn't take place just because people like to stop by and visit.

Organizers were seeking volunteers last week, and they might still use some helping hands. If interested, give them a shout by calling (630) 761-3528.

The event takes place this Saturday and Sunday, but volunteers will be setting up Thursday and Friday mornings at the Batavia Riverwalk and working throughout the event.

Tough break for Joe: Friends who follow artist Joe Gagnepain of Elburn on Facebook tell me he hit a fairly rugged stretch when traveling to Nevada's Burning Man arts and music festival earlier this month with plans to go onto California. During the trip, Gagnepain's "artsy" truck was hit from behind by another vehicle, which sent him tumbling off the road. According to his Facebook posts, he sustained a bad leg injury, which developed an infection. It looked like a stubborn injury, but his posts from earlier this week indicated he was getting close to figuring out a way to head back home after spending time with family while healing in San Francisco.

He should be back here soon, creating his unique brand of sculptures and other artwork that dot the area.

Remnants from Vine: Those crowds last weekend tell you that Geneva again had a winner with the Festival of the Vine.

Dann Villwock of Kernel's Gourmet Popcorn told me it appeared it was going to be a record turnout for his booth at the Flavor Fare, and based on the number of folks buying popcorn during my short visit, he was probably correct.

For my money, it was hard to beat the pot roast sandwich from Egg Harbor and the fish tacos from Bien Trucha.

Late come vs. early leave: The padres at various churches I have attended through the years have, on occasion, sent out a little dig from the lectern for those who leave the church before services are complete. At Christian services, this means bolting after Communion. Of course, the priests prefer everyone stay until the service is complete.

On occasion, I am guilty as charged for leaving early.

The deeply faithful may cringe, but let me provide an explanation as to why my ears go deaf when a preacher is letting loose with fire and brimstone about walking out before the final blessing.

First, I have never heard a priest say that people should actually be inside the church when the service starts, rather than showing up, say, five minutes late. On my unofficial score card, just as many, if not more, people arrive late than leave early. To me, this is as bad or worse. So any "reminders" should go both ways.

Look at it this way. When Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount, wouldn't it have been better to be there on time, rather than come rambling up that mountainside when he was well into his message? Or how about when he was arriving in Jerusalem on the donkey? I would have wanted a front-row seat for that, rather than wandering in late and wondering what all of the excitement was about.

Second, I leave services early sometimes when I have to be somewhere else at a certain time. But mostly, I would do it as a public service -- to get my car out of the parking lot so others have one less vehicle in their way. Truth be told, I got in that habit as a parishioner at the St. Patrick Mission Church on Crane Road in St. Charles.

Drivers in that parking lot benefited when some cars made an early exit.

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