St. Charles City Council candidates present their ideas for former police station site

Candidates for the St. Charles City Council are laying out their vision for the redevelopment of the former St. Charles police station along the Fox River.

In describing their plans for the site, they answered a questionnaire from the Kane County Chronicle and talked about their plans in a Daily Herald endorsement interview. There are three contested city council races.

There is a three-person race for the open 1st Ward seat on the city council with Jessica Bridges, Tom Galante and Mark Foulkes running.

The 2nd Ward's Rita Payleitner is not running for reelection. Running for that seat are Arthur Lemke, who lost his seat on the city council to Ryan Bongard in 2021, and Jayme Muenz.

In the 4th Ward, incumbent David Pietryla is facing a challenge from Laurel Moad, who lost her election bid in 2021 in a three-person race.

The former police station site is located in the 4th Ward. Pietryla said he would like to see a modest development that incorporates both green space and a public amenity.

"I would also like to incorporate the existing municipal center into the development; thus, creating a municipal 'campus' perhaps," he said. "Ultimately, the conclusions of the feasibility studies the city council directed to occur will determine what can and cannot be developed at the site."

In December, the council unanimously rejected all the concept proposals for the former police station site. Also that month, the council's planning and development committee directed city staff to put together a request for proposals to engage a consultant to conduct a feasibility study for the property.

Moad agreed with the need for a feasibility study.

"It will be important to learn the costs associated with removing the existing building, mitigating the underlying utilities and repairing or rebuilding the river seawall," she said in a questionnaire.

"As the president of the River Corridor Foundation," she added, "I would advocate that the city include requirements for the configuration and width of the walkway along the river shoreline in conjunction with any development plans."

Muenz said the results of the feasibility study are important.

"Our goals are different from that of a developer, and we must think not about filling vacancies in a new building today, but what the impact of that building will be on the landscape of our community in 5, 10, 20 or 50 years and how it will change how we interact with our riverfront," she said in a questionnaire.

Lemke said he would like to see the buildings used previously as a police station be replacedl.

"Just about any proposed use should be considered," he said in a questionnaire. "Ideally, the view of the river and synergy with the park district property to the north is a city asset the citizens might not want to lose."

During an endorsement interview, Foulkes said he thinks an amphitheater would be a good fit for the property.

"The first thought that came into my head was something similar to Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora," he said. "It should be something that community members can be drawn to. It can be a place for entertainment. I think we have to listen to the community members who live in that area. They do not want something that's going to bring them a lot of noise and create a lot of traffic in that area."

Bridges said she has heard a lot of ideas from residents on how the property should be redeveloped.

"My personal favorite idea is the development of a bike path and possible expansion of Pottawatomie Park," she said in a questionnaire. "But just because I have a favorite does not mean it is the best idea for our community. I do not believe this redevelopment should be solely decided by (the) city council. I believe it should be decided by the citizens of St Charles."

Galante said any proposal needs to fit in with the surrounding neighborhood and streets while keeping public access to the river.

"Something like an outdoor amphitheater or performance space or maybe a small marina or some boat slips," he said in a questionnaire.

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