Settler's Hill cross-country course hits more obstacles

Updated 8/21/2019 4:55 PM

Bad weather, flawed design and a scarcity of materials are poised to push the project to build a cross-country course on the former Settler's Hill landfill beyond its $4 million budget.

A large area of the hill intended for the course has sloughed after persistent rain this spring and summer. The area must be redesigned and reconstructed so it remains stable. County staff said the original design included drainage that was supposed to withstand a 100-year rainfall event. Actual precipitation hasn't been anywhere near that much, indicating design flaws.


All the pieces were supposed to be in place within a year of starting construction, but the county has struggled for two years now just to collect enough new dirt at the site to mold the cross-country course onto the landfill in Geneva.

Officials initially hoped to charge contractors to dump clean excess soil from nearby construction at the site, thereby raising funds to help pay for the project. They didn't get enough dirt that way.

So, this year, they told contractors they could dump their clean soil on site for free. They still didn't get enough dirt.

Now, the county will use what's called a "borrow pit" to accumulate the dirt. That involves digging a hole and using that dirt for the course, which will cost money instead of making money for the project.

There will be additional costs to address the drainage problems exposed by recent rains and to stabilize the course.

That adds up to a project that is on track to blow its $4 million budget. County officials voted this week to yank $300,000 intended for improvements at the golf course adjacent to the landfill. That money will be spent on the cross-country course, if needed.

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"The idea is to finish one project before we move on to the second one," said Jim Martin, who represents the county board district where the landfill is located.

The adjacent golf course is overseen by the Kane County Forest Preserve District. Once complete, the cross-country course will be overseen by the district.

Ken Anderson is keeping an eye on both projects on the forest preserve side. He said losing $300,000 for the golf course improvements won't kill the project, but it's money they were counting on. Among the improvements slated for the course is a new driving range. The total budget for the golf course improvements was $5 million.

"We hope we will still have enough funding to provide for both projects," Anderson said. "At the end of the day, we want the county to give the district a very viable cross-country course that has minimal maintenance needs. Because those can add up."

The money for both projects comes from an account funded by the landfill's previous operations. Officials can only use that money for the landfill property.

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