Itasca village board candidates weigh in on data center proposal
Most of the candidates in Itasca's village board race say they oppose a plan to construct data center buildings on a golf course property.
Seven candidates are vying for three trustee seats in Tuesday's election. They are incumbents Jeffrey Aiani and Frank Madaras and challengers Joshua Beauchamp, Patrick Powers, Dustin Sneath, Eric Swets and Jennifer Troutman.
The candidates recently were asked to weigh in on a proposal to construct three 100,000-square-foot data center buildings on land that belongs to Itasca Country Club. Club CEO Larry Swets wants to use about 34 acres -- roughly one-quarter of the club's property -- for the data center complex along North Prospect Avenue.
Aiani said during a Daily Herald endorsement interview that he strongly opposes the idea and would prefer the data center be built in the Hamilton Lakes area. Powers, who lives near the golf course, agreed.
"Being a trustee you need to listen to what's being told to the board," Powers said. "But this is not what is good for the community."
Sneath, a member of the club, said he was in favor of the original proposal and the potential revenue it could bring to the village. He said he believes those who live near the course have dictated too much of the discussion.
"We have to make sure that we're not just immediately shooting things down simply because it doesn't fit into the perfect picture of what we want in a specific area," Sneath said.
Beauchamp said is in favor of having a data center on the property but wants to see the plan reduced in size.
"I think if the developer could present the board with a modified proposal that makes the data center smaller and tries to preserve the nature in the area and the golf course itself, I think I would be on board with that idea," Beauchamp said.
Swets, who is the brother of Larry Swets, serves on the Itasca plan commission. He has recused himself from the review of the data center plan.
However, Swets said he is not convinced a data center is the best use of the golf course property.
Troutman previously stated a data center would be good for the village. But she said the village board must get more input from residents on the best course of action.
"We have an obligation to bring new ideas to the community," Troutman said, "and we need to also spell out the pros and cons."
While he has not taken a firm position on the data center proposal, Madaras said the country club brings character to the village.
"It's a great experience and an asset to this community," said Madaras, who is a social member of the club. "We need to really focus on those aspects and pay attention to how things affect people in this community no matter where they live."