The first reaction was to cringe a bit when noticing all of the trees along Randall Road had been removed in front of the retail strip in Geneva anchored by Best Buy and At Home, and soon to include a Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market and Burlington Coat Factory.
After all, merchants in that strip in the past have questioned the need for tall trees as part of the landscaping, saying it made it hard to see the businesses.
City planners compromised with the retailers last year, agreeing to accept a new landscaping plan and cut down the larger trees -- with the caveat that the retailers would pay into the city's Tree Fund for future plantings throughout the city.
It was a payment "in the ballpark of $25,000," said David DeGroot, Geneva's community development director.
The new landscape plan calls for more than 400 plantings, but the bushes along Randall will not block the view of the retail area from the road.
More plantings will take place around the new retail signs, as well as some islands in the parking lot area "to soften the ambience of the parking lot," DeGroot said.
The shopping center is a planned unit development, so the landscape plan went through the plan commission and then to the city council.
It will take some time to see if the new plan doesn't detract too far from what Randall Road has looked like up to this point.
Pleasant landscaping rules much of Randall, with the Ashley HomeStore store in Geneva serving as an example of nice plantings that don't block the retail location.
But plush and full landscaping is certainly appealing to the eye, as seen in the front of Fifth Third Bank in Geneva and the front of the Denny's restaurant, and at the southwest corner of Fabyan and Randall in front of the Bank of America and Walmart, both in Batavia, standing out as nearby examples.
But a lack of landscaping buffer can result in looking at even less appealing things. Folks selling used cars have been quick to notice that the lack of trees makes it easier for them to park their cars in At Home's lot and find potential buyers.
We really don't want to revert to those days when that was a common practice at a Montgomery Ward store on Randall Road in St. Charles.
Owners of those cars used good, old-fashioned American marketing by slapping their "For Sale" signs on old cars and putting them on display for folks to see as they flocked to the Kane County Flea Market or other events at the fairgrounds.
It's not nearly as common, now that the Kane County Clerk's office is in that spot and the parking area is used at least monthly for the county's recycling program. Plus, the city cracked down on that practice.
But cars for sale have appeared in the far end of the At Home lot on weekends, once again on display for all to see along Randall Road. Let's hope this isn't a long-term pattern.
Marking their territory:
It appears the geese in Geneva's Island Park can read my column -- and didn't like what I said.
In recently mentioning that the park seemed much cleaner because of the work of a geese-chasing company the park district hired, our most recent visit proved these creatures that love the Fox River continue to swarm the park.
We know what type of challenge it has been along other parts of the river to try to keep areas in which citizens spend time clear of geese. The Bob Leonard path along the Fox in St. Charles is a good example of how plantings between the walking path and the riverbank can keep geese poop under control.
But if geese can read, they were sending me a statement that they won't be cleared out of Island Park so easily.
A phoneless joy:
TriCity Family Services employees and volunteers are currently on their annual Wilderness Challenge trip with young clients, a weeklong camping event in northern Minnesota to help kids learn how to fend for themselves and work together as a team.
Other than learning about the beauty of the great outdoors, there is another major benefit for both adults and kids. Not staring at a phone screen for several days is a very pleasant thought -- and one of the ideas behind these types of journeys.
Wahlberg finds 'home':
When it was first learned a few years ago that actress Jenny McCarthy was hanging out in Illinois again, and it just happened to be the Tri-Cities area, I mentioned that she'd find this area to her liking. The main reason was we don't go overboard around here regarding famous people deciding they like being around us.
Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys spent plenty of time here, and we've had numerous big names hanging out on occasion, especially if they were playing the Arcada Theatre.
Donnie Wahlberg confirmed as much in addressing the St. Charles City Council after his pitch for a Wahlburgers restaurant on the west side was approved.
He said he and his wife McCarthy have been treated like they've been around here all along, and they appreciate that.
Now, don't get us wrong. We think it is quite cool that Donnie and Jenny call St. Charles their home and have had great events at Hotel Baker and the Arcada. We're also not afraid to tell visitors or relatives in other parts of the country about it -- especially when they reveal they love Wahlberg in "Blue Bloods" or when he was a member of New Kids on the Block, or have enjoyed McCarthy's stints in comedy roles or talk shows.
We're just not inclined to go paparazzi on residents here.
The war is on:
If my sense for what type of weather mosquitoes thrive in is accurate, I may very well have been swatting those pests most of this past week.
There's been enough rain and humidity to launch a jungle swarm, so my guess is the cities' mosquito spraying battalions have been, or will be, out in full force.
In making mentions of the Viewpointe development in St. Charles that was built where the former Mount St. Mary and then Valley Lutheran high schools were located, I have on occasion referred to parts as having townhouses.
A reader has sent a note saying that the site actually is all single-family homes.