Elgin seeking more proposals for former school site

  • The Fox River Country Day School grounds are on Dundee Avenue in Elgin.

    The Fox River Country Day School grounds are on Dundee Avenue in Elgin. Daily Herald Photo

 
 
Updated 5/29/2014 4:29 PM

The city of Elgin again will be seeking requests for proposals for the former Fox River Country Day School as it spends about $647,000 to replace the roofs of three buildings on the campus.

The Elgin City Council approved both actions Wednesday night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Council members John Prigge and Toby Shaw cast "no" votes on the expense for the administration, gymnasium and dining hall buildings, which Elgin Building Maintenance Superintendent Rich Hoke said are leaking and might soon cause extensive damage.

The city acquired the 19-acre property at 1600 Dundee Ave. in April 2013 as a gift in a three-way transaction with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and the Kane County Forest Preserve District.

A proposal to request bids for the demolition of all 12 buildings on the property was turned down in an 8-1 vote, with Councilman Terry Gavin casting the only "yes" vote.

Councilman John Steffen said he does not support demolition but made the motion as an option for the city council, which needs to give clear direction to city staff members.

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"We've been kind of sitting on this piece of property," he said.

Prigge said the city council's lack of action has resulted in "this property decomposing before our very eyes."

Councilwoman Tish Powell said the council is trying to be thoughtful.

When the city sought requests for proposals earlier this year, it gave respondents 30 days and specifically targeted educational initiatives, City Manager Sean Stegall pointed out.

The Elgin Charter School Initiative and Elgin Academy were the only two respondents. Council members balked at the estimated $3.2 million in repairs needed over the next few years to make the property usable by those entities.

This time, the scope of the RFP will be broader and respondents will have 90 days.

"We are planning to respond," Karen Schock, president of the Elgin Charter School Initiative, said about the RFP. She added the group is researching other locations as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That's not a make or break, if we can't get that (former Fox River Country Day School property)," Schock said. "The (charter) school doesn't go away."

Gavin said it will be difficult to find developers interested in the property, which is secluded and adjacent to protected fen.

"Anybody who thinks this property has a high value, I think is kidding themselves," he said.

Shaw said his goal is to offload the property, possibly by gifting it or creating some kind of trust.

When the city accepted the property, it didn't realize the extent of the repairs needed, Stegall said.

"It was done backward. We didn't inspect the property," Mayor David Kaptain said, adding the deal required the city to take the property "as is."

• Daily Herald staff writer Madhu Krishnamurthy contributed to this story.

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