More vision for First Street project

Updated 8/4/2012 10:37 PM
  • Runners take off at last year's Bob Leonard 5K Run and Walk-A-Thon at Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles. This year's event is Saturday, Aug. 11, and benefits the River Corridor Foundation. Leonard was a founder of the group and an advocate for riverfront beautification.

      Runners take off at last year's Bob Leonard 5K Run and Walk-A-Thon at Pottawatomie Park in St. Charles. This year's event is Saturday, Aug. 11, and benefits the River Corridor Foundation. Leonard was a founder of the group and an advocate for riverfront beautification. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Area residents know a change in a city project when they see it.

When the Wild Monk gastro pub opened at 51 S. First St. in St. Charles a couple of weeks ago, it represented a noticeable change from the Prasino restaurant previously in that location.

But any sort of development along First Street gets a fair amount of attention these days, mainly because it is the city's most ambitious downtown facelift ever.

The structures envisioned as part of the project's next phase have been put on hold because of the poor economy of the past several years.

The drawings of another five-story building with condominiums and more retail locations were impressive, but the city's decision earlier this year to scrap that concept may actually give the project's next phase a much-needed shot in the arm.

The new plan calls for rental units for the residential and retail segments, rather than selling condos and retail space. The city can opt for condo sales in the future, but for now it needed a way to get the First Street vision back in focus.

Restaurants will come and go, as they always have. But the commitment to a huge apartment and retail complex carries a significant amount of weight for the city. It was probably a blessing in disguise that structures weren't built before the economy went south.

Walk for river: The Fox River has been so low and dry this year, it deserves something good -- like a 5K Run and Walk fundraiser for continuing work along the Bob Leonard Walkway in St. Charles.

The River Corridor Foundation has transformed that former riverbank eyesore into a thing of beauty in honor of Leonard, a former foundation member and huge supporter of all things Fox River.

The event takes place at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, in Pottawatomie Park, with registration starting at 7 a.m. If you haven't done so, sign up at the website.

Kids 4 years to 11 years can participate in the Turtle Hurdle obstacle course. And guess who sponsors that? Think turtle sundaes. Yes, Colonial Café.

More sensible costs: My note a couple of weeks ago about keeping local taxes sensible when people are facing tough financial times sparked supportive reader comments.

Basically, I felt that if your income and home value is down, your taxes should not shoot up. Unfortunately, they do. And the schools make them go up significantly.

One reader said the airlines serves as a good example of an industry that had to change when deregulation occurred in the 1980s. Some changed their business models to address costs and wages in order to survive. Others did not and folded.

Unfortunately, government agencies and government unions have never been forced to deal with the economic realities of a competitive world, the reader said.

Another reader made the analogy that the property tax system is similar to an employee saying, "Boss, I know our company has been losing sales and revenue. You can't fire me and I really need a new house. I'm taking a raise."

It's not entirely parallel, but the analogy isn't entirely off base, the reader said.

Lanes galore: It appears the new intersection at Fabyan Parkway and Randall Road is finally completed. All of the lanes and markings give the impression you are on a checkerboard, but otherwise it looks like traffic flow should be pretty decent through that busy area.

However, the extra lane on Randall when traveling north past Fabyan toward Gleneagle Drive is somewhat confusing because it doesn't last long. It looks like the designers didn't want those turning right on Gleneagle to use that lane all of the way. So drivers continuing along Randall have to make a quick merge to the left, which is always a fairly tricky proposition.

Talent galore: Just about everyone has talent these days, it seems. Or at least, the "got talent" premise works for fundraisers, special events and simply as a way to showcase young people doing something they enjoy.

The latest to jump on the bandwagon is the "Campton's Got Talent" search, which starts with preliminary rounds at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12 and at 6 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Old Towne Pub in Wasco.

Contestants will compete for a chance at the finale, set as part of the second annual United Fall Fest on Sept. 8 at the Congregational United Church of Christ in St. Charles.

Those interested in entering for a $20 fee can find more information and entry forms online at under the "talent" link.

Celebrities galore: It's quite likely our most recent celebrities aren't even around Geneva any longer, considering they both have demanding occupations.

Readers who recently learned that Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and TV star Jenny McCarthy have been living together in Geneva asked me why I haven't shared that news. It does fit the "Talk of the Town" criteria, but I figured it was similar to when Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame lived in St. Charles for years.

I'd like to think those of us in the Tri-Cities prefer to leave celebrities alone and let them enjoy their stay here.

The area has had glimpses of numerous stars because of the Arcada Theater in St. Charles. The late Davy Jones of Monkees fame walked around our towns on more than one occasion, and of course, it's been said that Paul McCartney visited Wilson here and spent time at the Hotel Baker.

Residents spotted Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones yucking it up one night at McNally's in St. Charles, and a couple of years ago actor Russell Crowe was spotted in Batavia and along our bike trails. Of course, Tom Hanks was in town several years ago when filming "Road to Perdition."

As for McCarthy and Urlacher, they are more than welcome to stay in Geneva and call it their permanent home. Other than that, I hope McCarthy continues to make funny TV shows and Urlacher helps the Bears win the Super Bowl.

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