Longmeadow Parkway opponent takes first stand against project as Kane Co. Board member
One of the most vocal opponents of the view that Kane County's Longmeadow Parkway is a "done deal" said Tuesday that it is unlikely he will convince fellow board members to kill the plan.
Jarett Sanchez opposed the $135 million project long before he took the oath of office as a Kane County Board member last week. Tuesday brought his first chance to vote against any future progress on the 5.6-mile parkway and pending toll bridge.
Sanchez attempted to delay action on about $126,000 in tree removal contracts that would help clear the way for construction next fall. He failed to get any support for the move. All the contracts advanced toward final approval next month.
After the vote, Sanchez said he doesn't have a strategy for swaying any of his fellow board members.
"I don't think there's much I can do in the way of persuading the other board members to change their position," Sanchez. "I might have had a better chance a year ago, maybe. But at the very least I have to represent (opponents') interests."
Having an opponent representing at least one of the three county board districts affected by the project is a better reflection of constituents' view of the plan, Sanchez said. He pointed to the Dundee Township referendum, where 8,000 people voted to stop the parkway, as evidence of the size of the opposition. County board members dismissed that vote based on biased wording they believe was in the ballot question. Sanchez told his colleagues the referendum was a valid measuring stick of public opinion.
"Anybody that could read English looked at the ballot and knew exactly what they were voting on," Sanchez said. "Anyone interested can come talk to me about my position."
Sanchez said he and other opponents are awaiting the results of a pending federal lawsuit designed to stop the project. In the interim, he may target the most important votes on Longmeadow to dig in his heels. One such vote could come next year when the county board decides if it needs to borrow money to build the toll bridge portion of the project.
"I don't know what some of the other board members who aren't too close to the project feel about it yet," Sanchez said. "I know not everybody is like, 'This is the greatest thing.' They go along with whatever the people up north think. So we'll see."
The contracts approved by the transportation committee will rip out trees in the path of the Longmeadow project from west of Randall Road to Karen Drive and from east of Route 25 to, and along, Route 62. The plan involves a 2-to-1 tree replacement.
Opponents of the project have threatened to chain themselves to trees along the project route, particularly some of the older oaks.
The committee also took action to clear any remaining private property out of the path of the project. Kane County Transportation staff members pushed through a measure to request "quick take" powers from the Illinois General Assembly.
If granted, the county could gain ownership and bulldoze private property in the path of Longmeadow just by filing the right legal paperwork. Just compensation for the owners of those properties would be determined after the fact. There are about 16 such properties remaining that the county is already in negotiations to buy.