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updated: 2/3/2014 10:22 PM

Buffalo Grove hires firm for downtown study

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The sleeping giant known as downtown Buffalo Grove is showing signs of wakefulness.

On Monday night, the Buffalo Grove village board hired an engineering firm to study the Buffalo Grove Golf Course and determine the feasibility of the downtown project on what is now the village campus.

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In late 2012, the village received an elaborate proposal from CRM Properties, the developer of the shopping center near the Deerfield Metra station. That proposal is currently on hold.

Under the resolution passed by the board, the village will pay Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. $79,000 for professional engineering services for floodplain/floodway hydraulic modeling, wetland investigation, preliminary soils investigation and buildable area analysis.

The study timeline is approximately 120 days.

"We've had ongoing discussions with the developer," Village Manager Dane Bragg said before the meeting. "Obviously there is no project at this point. So we won't know whether we have a project, whether it be with CRM Properties or anyone else until we know what we can develop on the site."

The only board member to vote against the agreement was Trustee Beverly Sussman, who said, "I'm not willing to spend $79,000 of the village's money to fund these professional engineering services."

She mentioned that the village budget is tight and added that CRM should be paying for those services.

But Village President Jeffrey Braiman was concerned that by making developer Chuck Malk of CRM pay for the study, the village would be under obligation to him and his proposal.

Trustee Jeffrey Berman said he would like to see the costs ultimately picked up by a developer but added, "If we partner up with Mr. Malk, and he pays for the study, number one, the very same people who are out there, saying, 'Don't pay for the study' will be up there saying, 'Ah ha. You're in bed with Mr. Malk. It's a done deal. You're in cahoots. Therefore, everything is preordained.'"

But "by paying for the study ourselves, we keep his fingerprints off the study and we have a better chance of ensuring objectivity."

Members from the public who oppose the project spoke. Resident Leon Gopon raised concerns about soil borings being conducted on the golf course because of the possible existence of hazardous chemicals.

He also questioned the transparency of the process, noting that he had asked if anything was happening with the project in August and was told he would be informed if there was something to know.

"Having conversations with an engineering firm to set up a study on the golf course was something I would have liked to have known," he said.

Resident Bill Neilson, noting past failures with economic development such as the Rohrman property and the "ghost Town Center," said Buffalo Grove is not the place for such a development.

"This isn't Randhurst. This isn't Woodfield," he said. "This is Buffalo Grove, and it has always been a bedroom community."

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