Fox River Country Day School becoming open land? An early idea in Elgin

  • Officials from Elgin and the Kane County Forest Preserve District met Wednesday and discussed turning the city-owned Fox River Country Day School into open space.

      Officials from Elgin and the Kane County Forest Preserve District met Wednesday and discussed turning the city-owned Fox River Country Day School into open space. Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2014

 
 
Posted4/16/2015 5:30 AM

Elgin and the Kane County Forest Preserve District have started preliminary discussions about the possibility of turning the former Fox River Country Day School into open land.

Mayor Dave Kaptain said he and City Manager Sean Stegall met Wednesday afternoon with Kane County Board member Cristina Castro and forest preserve Executive Director Monica Meyers to talk about, among other things, the city-owned 19-acre property at 1600 Dundee Ave. County board members also serve as forest preserve commissioners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Various possibilities were floated, including the forest preserve district taking ownership of the former school property, or the forest preserve district being granted use of the property in exchange for maintaining it, Kaptain said.

Turning the property into public, open land would be its best use, Kaptain and Castro said. But both cautioned the discussion was very preliminary and any decision must be vetted by staff members and ultimately by the Elgin City Council and the forest preserve commission.

"It was a nice start of a discussion," Castro said.

A sticking point likely will be who pays for the cost of demolishing any buildings on the property, Kaptain said.

It might make sense to keep the Neil building, which is less than 10 years old; the administration building, which might have a historical connection to architect Frank Lloyd Wright; and a ranch home where a member of Elgin police's resident officer program is living, Kaptain said.

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The city acquired the former school in April 2013 as a gift in a three-way transaction with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and the forest preserve district, which took ownership of part of the land that includes protected fen. The property has been sitting empty and unused since.

The city received two proposals for the school last fall.

One proposal is from a group of investors, including some from China, who want to convert the property into a school for local and international students.

Another proposal was presented by Restoration America Inc., based in Hoffman Estates, which wants to create a treatment center with programs for veterans.

"My next step will be to talk to the city council before further discussions with the forest preserve," Stegall said.

Restoration America's leader, Charles Konkus, died Saturday, and it's unclear if that will affect the proposal, Kaptain said.

"We didn't see any offers that were terrific," Kaptain said. "It's not about the money but the best use of the property."

Wednesday's meeting also included conversations about other Elgin properties including Jack E. Cook Regional Park, he said.

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