Longmeadow Parkway foes criticize environmental study
Longmeadow Parkway opponents are disputing Kane County officials' assertion that the 5.6-mile road and toll bridge would benefit the environment, the economy and the transportation network in the area.
The county's Division of Transportation presented the findings of an updated environmental impact report on the proposed $135 million project during a public hearing Tuesday at the Holiday Inn in Elgin. The study details how air and noise pollution would affect nearby homes, as well as how construction would affect the Fox River, endangered species, wetlands, wildlife and forest preserves.
"It's very thorough," said Carl Schoedel, the county's director of transportation. "We've looked at everything."
But during a public forum in a packed ballroom, many project opponents criticized the report, arguing it doesn't adequately address all the additional environmental concerns that have arisen since the last assessment was completed years ago.
"This re-evaluation has more holes than the Randall Oaks golf course," said Algonquin resident Laura Brehmer. "(It) is seriously flawed and has a serious omission of data."
While denouncing the project's cost and potential pollution, several opponents also said no need for such a parkway exists. East Dundee resident Paula Lauer said the project would destroy open space, including the Brunner Family Forest Preserve -- a move she called an "ultimate betrayal of public trust."
Schoedel, however, said the findings support the county's statement that the project would be better for the environment than not building it at all.
Accounting for projected population growth, he said, Longmeadow Parkway would help alleviate traffic congestion, minimize the need for other roadway construction projects, improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Some speakers, including Huntley resident Kevin Sindelar, said they favor the project because of the potential to improve transportation and the local economy.
The environmental study indicates that the county plans to protect and minimize harm to wildlife and endangered species, including turtles, mussels, eagles, fish and bats.
It also lists specific actions anticipated by the county, including plans to remove 5,765 trees and replace them with twice as many. For the 4.16 acres of wetlands affected, the study says, 17.13 acres will be created.
Evelyn Carol Grom, a Sleepy Hollow resident and former trustee who initially backed the project, said in a written statement that the study "glossed over" several concerns, such as the effect of tree loss on wildlife.
"I urge you to give further consideration to them before proceeding further with construction," she said. "I can no longer support this project."
The county will continue to collect comments through Sept. 6, after which the Federal Highway Administration will decide whether there is a need for a more in-depth environmental study.