Can you picture this? The St. Charles Municipal Center and police station being removed to make way for sparkling riverfront retail locations and restaurants built as part of a riverwalk mecca with water taxis shuttling customers from location to location.
Sounds a bit like San Antonio's Riverwalk setup, doesn't it? It also sounds like a recast version of the First Street redevelopment project.
But that's what one reader had in mind when suggesting this idea as a way to obtain more tax dollars from businesses, such as a Morton's steakhouse, that might find such a setting a can't-miss proposition. It could potentially fuel the conclusion of the halted First Street redevelopment as well.
OK, so it will never happen. But who says you can't think outside the box? That's what it might take to alleviate some of the city's current woes, according to readers responding to my suggestion a couple of weeks ago that St. Charles faces some significant headaches.
Here's how each headache shaped up in the minds of readers:
First Street redevelopment: More on that riverfront idea -- the reader believes St. Charles' riverfront should be lined with five-star restaurants, a spa, shops, carnival rides and other attractions.
In the process, he said, it might not be a bad idea to relocate city hall and the police station to the nearly abandoned Charlestowne Mall.
"City hall and the police department generate no taxes for the city, and they certainly don't pay property tax," the reader noted. The dam might be an issue, of course, but some thinking caps could figure out a way to work around that.
McIlvaine house project:
This decades-long problem for St. Charles on Prairie Street actually garnered the most response. One reader who said he was a friend of McIlvaine's during their high school days feels a double standard is coming into play. A homeowner who can't finish a project gets hassled by the city, but a commercial developer unable to complete a project gets a pass, he said.
Another says the so-called remodeling project has gone on for more than 40 years with no regard for the neighbors.
"It's bad enough that construction debris and vehicles have accumulated over the years and are not just unsightly, but dangerous, and he will not even take the time to cut his weeds, which makes matters even worse," the reader said. But he acknowledges the empty mall and stalled First Street project are bigger priorities for the community as a whole.
Another reader in Campton Hills said he is dealing with a similar problem of a neighbor who has no regard for his property, and he hopes his village takes note of the McIlvaine saga and keeps it from occurring in Campton.
The best idea to resolve the Charlestowne Mall issue and jump-start The Quad upgrade planned at this east-side retail area has come up in other discussions about communities seeking retail euphoria.
Bring an Apple store to Charlestowne/The Quad, a reader suggested. The nearest Apple stores are in Woodfield and Naperville, the reader pointed out, so why not make St. Charles a "destination magnet" as well?
Otherwise, The Quad is destined to become "Charlestowne Mall 2.0," he said.
It is both amazing and wonderful that some area churches continue to offer monthly free community meals. The concept started about five years ago as a way to help folks muddle through the recession. That's still an underlying premise, but they have also turned into a place for people who eat alone often to see other people and get involved in a community gathering.
If you haven't been to one of these dinners, or taken an elderly parent or in-law, you can try tonight. The Two Guys and Free Spaghetti dinner will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. at the St. Charles Episcopal Church at 994 N. Fifth Ave. You can even ask for a carryout, if that works better.
That's a donation:
We were really happy when taking in what seemed like a car full of towels and blankets to the Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin not long ago. It was a great donation, we thought.
The folks at the shelter love such donations. The dogs and cats living there likely do as well.
But for something that qualifies as a truly great donation, we have to tip our hats to Marco and Patricia Muscarello. The shelter says the "generous" donation from the Muscarellos will help provide a makeover in the form of new caging throughout the shelter and an upgrade to the reception area.
The shelter is hoping to use some of its own investments and ongoing donations from individuals and businesses to help it continue an upgrade to the grounds and building, which can use new plumbing. The shelter also hopes to expand its parking area.
The shelter will shut down during September when renovation works starts, so foster parents are needed during the transition.
Call the shelter at (847) 697-2880 if you can help with donations or fostering.
Take that vacancy:
Design Essentials, located on State Street in Geneva near the Proud Fox art gallery, is telling its customers that their loyalty has turned into the need for a larger store.
The interior designers are moving to a space in Dodson Place along Third Street that previously housed Park Place Interiors.
That's a significant unit at Dodson Place, one of the larger spaces available.