Longmeadow project central in Kane County Board races
Among the four hopefuls in the Kane County Board District 24 race, only incumbent Joseph Haimann supports the Longmeadow Parkway project.
Haimann and challenger Jarett Sanchez are running in the Democratic primary for the district, while newcomers Roben Hall and Billita Jacobsen are running in the Republican primary. The district includes Barrington Hills and Carpentersville; all candidates lives in the latter community.
The proposed 5.6-mile road, from Huntley Road in Dundee Township to Route 62 in Barrington Hills, will pass through Algonquin, Carpentersville and Barrington Hills. It will include a four-lane toll bridge over the Fox River.
The county has a sound financial plan for the Longmeadow project, estimated to cost $135 million, with about $37 million coming from bonds, said Haimann, 69.
"People will use that bridge," he said, noting the Main Street bridge in Carpentersville is used by 23,000 cars per day. "It's a safety hazard to only have one bridge in Carpentersville. If traffic is tied up, it's horrendous."
Haimann also said he supports the redevelopment of the former Settler's Hill landfill in Geneva. A fund for its redevelopment has accrued about $9 million, which can be used to turn the hill into a cross-country course and walking trails. "I think it will be a great asset down there," he said, adding some have suggested that parking might bring in revenues. "It's a beautiful area."
Sanchez, 32, said he doesn't believe the cross-country plan would yield returns on the long-term investment. Instead, the hill could be devoted to prairie and wildlife restoration, he said. "Giving people more open spaces that are beautiful and people want to go to is a benefit," he said.
While there's "no doubt the area needs relief from congestion," Sanchez said he opposes the Longmeadow project because it's "oversized and underfunded." The cost of the bond issue will eventually come back to saddle taxpayers, and the environmental effects of the project are questionable, he said.
The acquisition of the Brunner Forest Preserve, through which the parkway will run, was a "self-serving deal," he said, because county board members also comprise the forest preserve board. "That's part of the government shenanigans that gets people upset."
Hall, 42, said she doesn't believe the Longmeadow bridge will do much to relieve traffic. "It's just going to bring congestion to another area," she said. "People will find other ways around it."
She also believes the toll money won't be enough to pay off the bond issue, which will inevitably hurt taxpayers. "I think the toll is going to deter people who might possibly use it on a regular basis."
Hall said she isn't in favor of turning Settler's Hill into a recreational area. "I prefer more open spaces, that's something the community needs," she said. She also is skeptical that recreation uses will bring in revenues, she said.
Jacobsen, 63, said her opposition to the Longmeadow project dates back at least 15 years ago when it was backed by former U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert. "(Taxpayers) are going to end up paying for it. It's an outrageous price, and it doesn't meet its purpose and need," she said. "We just don't have the growth."
Jacobsen also objects to the parkway running through the Brunner Forest Preserve, which should remain open space, she said.
Jacobsen, who ran about 15 years ago for the county board as a Democrat, said she is running as a Republican because "more people like me who are progressive need to run Republican -- or we're going to get a one-party system, and it's not (going to be) Republican. We need a two-party system."