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updated: 11/14/2013 12:21 AM

Issue stand in path of cross-country at Settlers Hill

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Cross country races don't typically involve hurdles, but at least two of them stand in the path of bringing NCAA-level meets to the former Settlers Hill landfill in Batavia.

Kane County officials said Wednesday that Waste Management wants to rehash the legal contracts that cover liability for any possible mishaps involved with reusing the landfill site for recreational purposes. Waste Management, the county and forest preserve district share that liability at various points on the 700-acre Fabyan campus.

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"When the original agreements were negotiated there was language regarding post-end uses," said county board member Mike Donahue, who is overseeing the redevelopment vision. "There were just very vague references to it in the operating agreements. So these agreements need to be amended to be more specific to accommodate public access out at the facility."

The second hurdle is getting Waste Management on board with Donahue's plan for a temporary dumping ground for clean soil and construction debris. The would-be cross country track needs at least 500,000 cubic yards of infill to raise the surface of the track and create a site that meets NCAA standards. Donahue has been urging Waste Management for a decision on the soil plan since midsummer. The company has said it will not weigh in until the contractual liability issues are addressed.

In the meantime, Waste Management has provided the county with new topographical maps of the site. Those maps showed some major differences from the maps used to draw up the plans for the cross country track and the nearby golf course improvements the forest preserve district has planned. Donahue worked to draft a new layout for the cross country course. The new design shows a more protracted course on the north and south ends of the side, but it still meets NCAA standards.

At a meeting Wednesday, forest preserve district President John Hoscheit said the choice would be easy if it came down to the cross country track versus redoing holes at the golf course.

"The likelihood of those other holes going in sometime in the near future is nominal," Hoscheit said. "I see the cross country track as the gem of that area."

Assuming all issues are worked out with Waste Management, $1.6 million has been earmarked to begin next year the second phase of engineering. After that, construction would begin.

"This has become a bit of a whale watcher project," Donahue said. "A whale goes underwater for a period of time, and people wonder where it went. Then it pops back up, explodes, and people ooh and ahh. I've been somewhat frustrated, as the project manager, at the length of time it's taken to move the project forward. I really want to look at 2014 as another year of implementation and progress."

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