All posts by Susan ONeill


Board approves EEI contract for $7.6 million wastewater treatment plant project

ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday approved a contract with Engineering Enterprises, Inc. for the modernization improvements to the village’s wastewater treatment facility.

The village will pay for the $7.6 million project with $1.5 million currently in the wastewater treatment plant fund, and the remainder with a low-interest loan through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The loan payments will be spread out over 20 years, and will be accomplished through an increase in residents’ sewer rates.

EEI engineer Jason Freeman described the impact to Elburn residents using examples of two different types of households. A family of four with average water use will pay about $74 per month for sewer services, while a two-person family should see a monthly bill of approximately $42 per month.

Freeman had told the board in a previous meeting that these increases will come out to about $40 a month for an average water user, although they will likely be phased in over time. Village President Dave Anderson said that, with additional growth, the cost will come down, as it will be spread among more people.

Trustee Ken Anderson said he wanted to make sure that the village would be able to adjust the rates as the population grows.

“I’d like to keep it as close to the real numbers as we can,” he said.

Village President Anderson emphasized that the need for the project is not due to projected population growth.

“Whether we stay the same population or quadruple growth, we still have to make these improvements,” he said.

The improvements will modernize the plant, but will not increase its capacity. Freeman said the improvements will allow the plant to work more efficiently and effectively.

The project is set up under a design/bid/build model, which means that EEI will do the engineering and design, and will bid out to a general contractor to manage the construction. The general contractor will hire subcontractors to perform the construction. EEI will be on-site to monitor the work.

Trustee Bill Grabarek suggested a few modifications to the language of the contract that would strengthen performance warranties, to which EEI principal Dave Burroughs agreed.

The project, which is set to begin this month, is scheduled for final completion by the end of 2015.

Village Board to begin meeting twice a month

ELBURN—Beginning next month, Elburn Village Board meetings and Committee of the Whole meetings will take place on the same nights.

Currently, the Village Board meets on the first and third Mondays of the month, with the Committee of the Whole scheduled for the second and fourth Mondays.

Beginning Monday, July 1, both meetings will take place on the first and third Mondays. The Village Board meeting will begin 15 minutes earlier at 6:45 p.m., with the Committee of the Whole meeting to follow directly afterward.

The board meetings are where votes are taken and actions are approved. More detailed discussion about upcoming agenda items typically takes place during the Committee of the Whole meetings. Village trustees participate in both meetings; the two gatherings just have a different focus.

Trustee Bill Grabarek wanted to make sure it was not cumbersome to request an additional Committee of the Whole meeting on the alternate weeks, if needed. According to the new ordinance, to do so will require a motion approved by the village president and at least two trustees.

Board reviews new village job descriptions

ELBURN—With the addition of a finance director to the Elburn village staff, Village Administrator Erin Willrett developed a new job description for her position, the finance director and for the other village managerial and staff positions.

Village President Dave Anderson said the creation of a separate position to deal with the village’s financial matters would free up Willrett’s time to focus more on marketing the village to potential businesses and developers.

During a discussion of the descriptions at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, village trustee Jeff Walker asked that the language describing Willrett’s role in marketing the village and economic development be made stronger.

The board will approve the new descriptions at a future meeting, and they will be included in the personnel manual when it is updated in November.

Village saves on new dispatcher contract

ELBURN—Fees for dispatch services from Tri-Com Central Dispatch in St. Charles have significantly decreased, for an annual rate of $79,976, down from the previous rate of approximately $97,000.

According to Village Administrator Erin Willrett, the decrease was due to the increase in the number of communities in the area taking advantage of the services. The Village Board on Monday approved the new service contract with Tri-Com for the fiscal year 2013-14.

Tri-Com, a governmental agency formed in 1976 by Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles to provide emergency communications services to these communities, currently takes all 9-1-1 calls for the residents of Elburn and a number of other fire and police departments in the area.

VB approves changes in water use restrictions

ELBURN—With summer close at hand, Elburn residents should take note of the village’s current and modified water use restrictions

The Elburn Village Board on Monday approved several changes to the village ordinance, which will bring the current ordinance in line with guidelines established by the Northwest Water Planning Alliance (NWPA), a regional alliance of five counties and roughly 80 municipalities.

The changes include the prohibition of laying sod, lawn seeding and new landscaping from July 1 through Aug. 31. Residents must still obtain a permit for sod laying and seeded lawn installation. Also new is the prohibition of the use of pumps or other mechanical devices to remove water from any village stormwater pond.

Currently, a number of residents have set up pumps along village stormwater ponds to obtain water for their personal use. According to trustee Jeff Walter, there are a number of issues with this practice, not the least of which is allowing a few residents to utilize a publicly-owned asset. In addition, he said there is a concern regarding the effect of draining the ponds on the rest of the water system, as well as just the aesthetics of the situation.

The modifications also give the village president the power to issue additional restrictions when the water supply has been affected by a prolonged dry period or drought, increased water demand or other causes.

Time restrictions for watering are still in effect, with even-numbered homes allowed to water on even numbered days and homes with odd-numbered addresses on odd-numbered days. Watering is allowed between 6 and 9 a.m. and between 6 and 9 p.m. Watering with a handheld hoses or watering cans, washing cars, and filling wading and swimming pools under 50 gallons are not time or day restricted.

The NWPA is encouraging all municipalities within the area to implement similar water restrictions, especially as the use of water impacts shared groundwater aquifers.

Elburn resident requests ordinance to honor fallen teen

ELBURN—Elburn resident Ron Rosecky made a heartfelt request to the Village Board on Tuesday to create an ordinance that would ban or discourage skateboarding or rollerblading on village streets with a steep incline. Rosecky was a neighbor and a friend to 13-year-old Caitlyn Phillips, who was killed on April 26 after she could not stop herself while skating down East Reader Street and collided with
an oncoming car.

A seventh-grade student at Kaneland Harter Middle School, Caitlyn was in-line skating on the steep incline where East Reader Street intersects with North Third Street. She entered the intersection and collided with a car traveling north on North Third Street.

“I knew Caity, and knew her well,” Rosecky said. “She was the darling of our neighborhood and was loved by anyone who ever met her. Her twinkling eyes and beautiful smile warmed every heart she ever touched.”

Rosecky said he knew that Caity would want her death to create something beneficial to others.

“In the coming years, if one life is saved or one child is taught the dangers of unseen or unanticipated occurrences such as hers, such an ordinance would be invaluable,” he said.

Rosecky emphasized that no one was to blame for Caity’s death. He said that children often are fearless and feel invincible.

“By passing this ordinance, you have the power to make her death meaningful to other children’s safety,” he said to the board.

Burglars target unlocked vehicles in Blackberry Creek

ELBURN—Elburn police are investigating a string of more than 20 automobile burglaries that took place between Sunday night and Monday morning in several neighborhoods in the Blackberry Creek subdivision.

Calling it “a crime of opportunity,” Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith said that all of the vehicles entered had been left unlocked, and they were all parked either on the street, or in the driveways of the owners of the vehicles.

In addition to cash, items taken from the vehicles include iPads, computers and jewelry, which Smith said could easily be sold to a third party.

Elburn Police Department detectives have begun an investigation, working with officers in several nearby communities that have experienced similar burglaries in recent weeks. Maple Park and Campton Hills recently had a series of similar burglaries.

“That’s standard procedure to touch base with other Police Departments in the area,” Smith said. “Maybe we’re looking at the same people or same group of people. We all share information on these things.”

Smith said that the most important thing people can do to avoid this type of burglary is to lock their vehicles, and not to leave anything of value in the car, especially in plain sight. In addition, they should never leave the keys to their car inside the car.

“It’s a crime of opportunity,” he said. “They’ll try the door handle and rummage around in the car. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it’s the car that’s unlocked that gets hit.”

Anyone who thinks that they might have any information that could assist in the investigation is encouraged to contact Detective Brad Ferguson at (630) 746-0046. Also, anyone who thinks that one of their vehicles was a target of the burglars, even if nothing was taken, are encouraged to call 9-1-1, so that an officer can conduct an initial investigation.

Moving north

Elburn and Countryside Fire District to build new station
ELBURN—The Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District will build a new main fire station on the corner of Route 38 and N. First Street, once the purchase of the 2.9-acre lot is completed.

According to Elburn and Countryside Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan, the Fire District has outgrown the 20,000-square-foot station on North Street in Elburn, which was originally built in 1960.

“The current building is quite outdated, and we’ve grown out of it,” he said.

The district has been planning this move for 10 years, and began looking for a new location about three or four years ago, Callaghan said. The property is currently owned by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which took over when the bank there was forced into receivership.

The purchase will take place through a confidential agreement with the FDIC for the property, meaning that the Fire District cannot disclose the purchase amount. Also, according to FDIC guidelines, the transaction must take place within 60 days.

The new building will be 40,000 square feet, giving the district the room it needs for updated equipment and staffing levels. The new location will also give the Fire Station access in all directions.

The cost of the project will be between $8 and $10 million, and according to Assistant Chief of Fire Operations Tate Haley, the district already has the necessary funding.

“We have been rolling money into a capital improvement fund, so we won’t need to have a referendum or to raise taxes,” he said.

The Elburn & Countryside Fire Protection District’s service area, which spans 75 square miles, includes the villages of Elburn, Lily Lake, Virgil, Campton Hills and Mill Creek subdivisions. The boundary on the north is Ramm Road, and the southern boundary is Scott Road, with the eastern and western boundaries fluctuating.

“This location is more central to your district,” Village Board trustee Patricia Schuberg noted.

Callaghan said the district plans to include a community room in the new building, in which the Cub Scouts would be able to meet, and the building can be designated as an emergency operations center for use in disasters.

The current main station is located at 210 E. North Street, with a satellite station located at 39W950 Hughes Road, immediately outside the Mill Creek Subdivision.

The fire station on North Street will be sold, and the ambulance building across the street will be saved for training purposes.

“While I hate to lose some retail space, I’m glad they’re going to stay in Elburn,” Village Board trustee Bill Grabarek said.

All trustees agreed to the district’s plan, although Village President Dave Anderson said he wants to make sure that the current building is sold, in order to get it back on Elburn’s tax rolls.

Land acquired for Anderson Road bridge

ELBURN—The land acquisition necessary to begin construction on the Anderson Road extension and bridge has been completed.

According to Kane County Director of Transportation Tom Rickert, the 62 acres, owned by three principal property holders, ShoDeen Inc., the Union Pacific Railroad and Metra, was purchased for approximately $2.1 million. Between 14 and 15 of these acres will be used for the easements.

The project will include an extension of Anderson Road, from Route 38 to Keslinger Road. The bridge would provide an overpass of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

Rickert said the hearing with the Illinois Commerce Commission on Tuesday, May 7, went well, with the formal approval on the docket for an early June meeting.

“It’s all moving forward,” Rickert said.

Rickert said that the letting date will be in August or September, with earthmoving set for October. If everything goes according to plan, he said he expects the road to be open for traffic in November 2014.

“We’re doing everything on our end to make sure we meet the Aug. 2 (bid letting) date,” he said.

Rickert also said he believed the Pouley Road closure was more than likely to take place.

“Under federal guidelines, the railroads are doing all they can to remove certain at-grade crossings,” he said.

Blackberry Township Road Commissioner Rod Feece said he also expects the Pouley Road closure, but he emphasized that it wouldn’t happen for at least two years. He said the closure would not take place until the Anderson Road bridge crossing is completed, and traffic is able to go over Anderson Road.

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson said the ICC will provide $7.1 million in funding for the project.

Bridge construction could begin this fall

ELBURN—Construction on the Anderson Road bridge may begin as early as this fall, which means the end could be in sight for endless traffic hold-ups at the railroad crossing on Route 47 in Elburn.

The project will include an extension of Anderson Road, from Route 38 to Keslinger Road. The bridge would provide an overpass of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

The project has been in the planning stages for years, and was considered by Kane County to be a top priority transportation project, with $21.7 million in federal, state and local funding set aside for it.

The project was dependent on an agreement between the village of Elburn and Geneva-based development company ShoDeen, Inc. for ShoDeen’s proposed Elburn Station residential and commercial development surrounding the Elburn Metra train station.

Village Board discussions on the Elburn Station project were tabled in October 2012, putting the Anderson Road project on hold until the beginning of this year, when discussions resumed. The Village Board reached an agreement with ShoDeen’s Dave Patzelt earlier this year, paving the way for construction to begin.

According to Village President Dave Anderson, the various governmental agencies have several more hoops to jump through, including a hearing on Tuesday, May 14, with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Currently, the project plan calls for the closure of the Pouley Road railroad crossing, which trustee Bill Grabarek said could impede the scope of Elburn’s planning north of the tracks and south of Route 38.

Trustee Ken Anderson said he would prefer not to see the Pouley Road closure, either, as it would limit access to the Elburn Metra train station. However, he said that the village does not have control over that decision. Pouley Road is outside the village boundaries, and is considered a Blackberry Township road.

Correcting hip placement

Elburn residents benefit from ‘Yoga … with Lynn’

[colored_box color=”blue”]Yoga … with Lynn
Thursdays • 9:30 a.m.
Elburn & Countryside Community Center
All levels welcome
To register, call Lynn at (630) 365-0163 or

ELBURN—Elburn resident Erin Walsh said she has always been athletic, but she was looking for an activity with a different approach, something that connected the mind with the body.

When she saw the ad for “Yoga … with Lynn,” held at the Elburn and Countryside Community Center, it sounded like exactly what she was looking for.

Walsh is an accomplished equestrian and rides competitively. She said yoga has helped her with her posture and increased her ability to stay focused and centered in her riding.

“It really opens me up, my hips and my chest,” she said. “It helps me to relax into the position I need to be in for riding.”

Walsh has a busy life with a professional career, two dogs and her horses. She said taking the yoga classes has helped bring more balance into her life.

Not only has she seen these benefits, but Walsh said she truly enjoys the class.

“Lynn (Meredith) is so joyful,” she said. “It’s the most joyful part of my day.
And everyone in the class is so nice. It feels like a community, and I really like that.”

Another student, Marianne Moye, has also been taking Meredith’s yoga class. Moye has taken yoga classes before, but she particularly likes this one.

“Lynn’s energy, excitement and knowledge make it invigorating,” Moye said. “She’s always bringing fresh ideas and activities to the class.”

Moye said that Lynn is in-tune with the people in the class—she gets to know each person and looks out for each one.

“She’s very accepting of whatever level we’re at,” she said. “She also leads us to levels we didn’t know we were capable of. She makes it interesting and fun, and yet we’re getting quite a workout. The time flies.”

Moye said she has already recognized a number of benefits she is getting from the class.

“I’m standing straighter,” she said. “It’s almost unconscious. I’m eating better and I drink a lot of water. It influences a person to have a healthier lifestyle. I’m slimming down and I’m able to sleep better.”

The first thing Meredith does when students arrive at the class is to have them relax and let go of the stresses outside of the room.

“Forget about the stress of trying to get here on time,” she said. “Forget about that to-do list.”

Meredith, who grew up in Elburn and graduated from Kaneland High School, said she has been practicing yoga since her college days, when she would come home from classes and watch “Lilias, Yoga and You” on T.V. A theater major, she said that the theater movement classes she took were very similar to yoga, in that the students were linking their breath to their movements, becoming more aware of their senses and focusing inward.

Later, in the 1990s, Meredith trained for and became a Pilates instructor. Although she likes Pilates and is able to incorporate some of the its principles into her yoga, she was really intrigued by yoga and how deeply one can go into its practice.

“Yoga actually changed my personality,” she said. “I’m much more stable, more centered and less anxious. I’m less reactive than I used to be.”

Over the past 10 years or so, Meredith has taken a number of in-depth week-long classes in yoga, becoming certified to teach. At the time, she was doing it mainly for herself.

Then, about a year ago, she started feeling pulled to teach.

“I had gotten so much out of it, I wanted to share it with others,” she said. “I wanted to make it more accessible, so that people can start from where they are.”

According to Meredith, there are many benefits to be gained from a yoga practice. She said the focus calms her mind, and that going inward, she is able to listen to where her body is. She uses it as a diagnostic tool.

“It can help you manage depression and anxiety, and it’s also good for your heart and your other organs,” she said.

Chris Hocksprung, another student in the class, said that she had major surgery a few months ago, and her doctor told her to find an exercise with low impact. She had been running on the treadmill and lifting weights, as well as working with a personal trainer.

She said that when the yoga class is finished, she has more energy, and she feels she’s given her muscles a good workout.

Hocksprung said she has trouble sleeping, and the breathing she learned in the class has been helping her to relax more.

“When I get stressed at work, I go to the bathroom and breathe,” she said.

Meredith begins another session of classes on Thursday, May 9. The classes are 90 minutes, and one session is five classes. The cost is $50 per session.

Meredith said she’s grateful that she is able to share the benefits of yoga with others. She ends each class by thanking the students for attending. Using a Buddhist meditation, she sends them off for the day by saying, “May you be well; may you be happy; may you be peaceful.”

Elburn village officials sworn in to serve

ELBURN—Village trustee-elect Patricia Schuberg was officially sworn in on Monday night, taking her place with the other board members half-way through the meeting. Schuberg was elected to the Village Board in the 2013 Consolidated Election on April 9 after having served on the Plan Commission for 15 years—six of those as committee chairperson. She said she was very excited to take on this new challenge.

Trustees Ken Anderson and Jeff Walter, who both won re-election, were also sworn in, as was Village President Dave Anderson, who was also re-elected for a second term.

Schuberg replaces trustee Jerry Schmidt, who did not seek re-election.

Schmidt, who served on the board for the past four years, said it was time for him to leave public service. He said he feels good about the progress that Elburn has made during his time in office.

“He’s been a delight to serve with,” Dave Anderson said. “Jerry has been an integral part of everything over the last four years and before that.”

The village president said he hoped to have Schmidt continue to be involved, albeit in a more informal way.

Dave Anderson also recognized Michael J. Greenen, CPA, PC, village treasurer who is leaving that position. He said Greenen has been a “real benefit” to the village, offering his advice and counsel regarding financial matters.

“He’s done an exemplary job, sometimes above and beyond,” Dave Anderson said. “We are very grateful for Mike.”

Greenen also operates a business on Main Street in Elburn, offering tax preparation and accounting services, as well as comprehensive investment planning.
According to Dave Anderson, a good amount of the rationale for establishing the position of finance director came from Greenen.

Doug Elder, who filled in for Village Administrator Erin Willrett while she was on maternity leave, was sworn in to fill the new finance director position, as well as that of village treasurer. Elder assisted the village in the creation of the recently approved 2013-14 budget, implemented on May 1.

Elder has been the village administrator, budget director and mayor of Forreston, Ill., as well as the chairman of the Ogle County Economic Development Corporation.

Anderson has said that the creation of the finance director position will free up more of Willrett’s time to focus on economic development within the village.

Village President Anderson also made official appointments to the Planning Commission,Zoning Board of Appeals, Police Commission, village attorney, village clerk, village engineer, and village staff.


Elburn mourns joyful teen

Photo: Caityln Phillips’ immediate family embraces as community members gathered on Tuesday at the intersection of North Third and Reader streets in Elburn to remember her. Caitlyn Phillips, a 13-year-old who was killed on Friday after colliding with a car while rollerblading. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

ELBURN—Caitlyn Phillips, or “Caity,” as she was known to her friends, was by all accounts a special girl. Described by those who knew her as “bubbly,” “a peacemaker” and “a precious, beautiful spirit,” the 13-year-old who loved sunshine, babies and hugs wasn’t able to stop herself from skating into the street on Friday afternoon, colliding with an oncoming car.

A seventh-grade student at Kaneland Harter Middle School, Caity was in-line skating on a steep incline on East Reader Street, near her house in the 500 block of South First Street in Elburn, at about 3:30 p.m. when she entered the North Third Street intersection. The car she collided with was driven by a 34-year-old woman, also of Elburn, who was traveling north on Third Street at the time.

The Elburn Police Department and the Elburn Fire Department responded to the incident, and the Elburn Fire Department paramedics immediately took Phillips to the Emergency Room at Delnor Hospital in Geneva. Medical personnel there pronounced her deceased at approximately 4:30 p.m.

The Kaneland School District posted an announcement on its website to the families in the area to let them know of the tragic accident. Although administrators had few details at the time, the communication stated that they wanted to extend their deepest condolences and sympathy to Caity’s family and friends.

As more people became aware of the tragedy, many came forward to offer their help, love and support. The Rev. Russ Hurst, pastor of Calvary West Church in Sugar Grove, where services will be held for Caity, said he was “inspired” by how many people were there to offer their support to her family. As Hurst met with the Phillips family on Sunday afternoon, he said there were 20 to 25 people surrounding them, with another 15 or so spilling out in the yard, because there wasn’t enough room for them all in the house.

“Sparkplug” is the word that comes to Hurst’s mind when he recalls Caity.

“Every time I saw her, she had a huge smile, and light just shone off her face,” he said. “She was always happy and hugging everyone. She lived life to the fullest, and she brought a lot of life to her family. She was a very, very special girl. She honestly was an angel.”

Hurst said Caity’s mom, Crystal, and two sisters, Jordan and Taylor, were an active part of the greeter’s ministry, helping to greet people before and after the service.

“They’re very friendly and outgoing,” he said. “A lot of the people (in the congregation) know them.”

The funeral service, which will take place at the Calvary West Church on Friday, May 3, will be a celebration of Caity’s life, and will include her favorite song, “You Are My Sunshine.”

“They (the family) want everyone to sing that song in her honor,” Hurst said.

Crystal said that Caity gave the best hugs; that you really felt her love when she hugged you. If she thought you were rushing through a hug, she would call you on it.

“She’d say, ‘Mom, that was a quickie,’” Crystal said. “She was so affectionate. She would set her alarm for 5 a.m. so that she could come in and cuddle with me before she got ready for school.”

Caity was a peacemaker. If she got into an argument with someone, she would write them a letter apologizing, even if it wasn’t her fault.

“She forgave people so easily,” Crystal said. “She was better than me. I will spend the rest of my life trying to do half of what she would want me to do.”

While Crystal struggles to understand why Caity was taken so soon, she said she is so grateful for her neighbors and friends, and people she doesn’t even know, who have sent messages of love.

“I don’t even have the words to express the love and appreciation I feel,” she said. “We’re blessed beyond words.”

The Harter Middle School Support Team arranged for additional counselors and staff for the first few days of the week to provide support to the grieving students and staff. Conley Outreach provided information regarding teens and grieving at its website,

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in Caity’s name. Checks may be made to the “Caitlyn Phillips Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119.

Individuals may also deposit directly into an account set up in her name at Old Second Bank, 749 N. Main St., Elburn. Memorial tributes may also be forwarded to the P.O. Box or on the web at Arrangements were handled with care by Conley Funeral Home.

Village Board agrees to Elburn wastewater treatment plant upgrade

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn village trustees all gave the nod on Monday to a $7.6 million plan to modernize Elburn’s wastewater treatment plant.

Engineering Enterprises, Inc. representative Jeffrey Freeman’s presentation to the Village Board was the second step in educating the board and the public on the need for the project.

Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven conducted a tour of the plant, which is more than three decades old, on Saturday morning, pointing out the areas where improvements are necessary.

The improvements will modernize the plant, but will not increase its capacity, Freeman said. The improvements will allow the plant to work more efficiently and effectively.

The plan calls for the addition of a new headworks building and sewage pumping station, an automated screening system, a clarifying tank with twice the capacity of the current two tanks, and two new digesters.

Village President Dave Anderson said that the current pumping station, located 30 feet below the ground, and the small elevator that a public works employee must take to reach it, is a safety issue. When an employee is down in the pumping station alone, there is no cell phone coverage.

“You wouldn’t do it at home,” Anderson said.

The current screening process requires that a village employee manually remove the sludge from the grid twice a day, no matter what the weather. The sludge is carried away in buckets. The improvements would include an automation of this process.

In addition to the improvements recommended by EEI, the village will need to make several improvements to meet new EPA standards for phosphorus removal. These improvements account for $670,000 of the $7.6 million project.

Freeman laid out the timeframe for the project, with the design work to begin in June after the board formally approves the project. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency approval would likely take place by the end of 2013. Construction would begin in September 2014, with the target for completion set for October 2015.

The village will seek a low-interest loan from the EPA, with the project ultimately paid for with an increase in residents’ sewer rates. Freeman said it will come out to an increase of about $40 a month for an average water user, although this increase will likely be phased in over time.

The sewer rates are calculated based on the residents’ water usage, as wastewater usage is not measured. The average household uses 700 gallons of water per month.

Freeman also said that, with additional growth, the cost will come down, as it is spread among more people.

Anderson emphasized that the need for the project is not due to projected population growth.

“These improvements have nothing to do with new construction,” he said. “They have to do with operation, maintenance and upgrading of the existing plant for the existing community.”

Village Board passes annual budget

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday approved the 2013-14 budget, with trustee Jerry Schmidt the only “no” vote.

In a previous discussion at the board’s April 8 meeting, Schmidt said he could not vote for a budget that included funding for a police force he considers large for a village of Elburn’s size.

“I think we’re overstaffed for 5,000 people,” he said during the discussion.

The Police Department includes eight full-time officers, although one of them is currently out on leave. The amount budgeted for personnel, including part-timers and overtime, benefits and taxes, is $1.1 million.

The 2013-14 village budget calls for a total of $4.8 million of expenditures and revenues.

The budget also includes an increase in the water and sewer rates for village residents of about $6 a month.

Unfinished work on Blackberry Creek begins

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Blackberry Creek residents should soon see workers making the infrastructure improvements that developer B&B Enterprises left undone in 2010.

Most of the work will take place on the east side of the subdivision, east of Blackberry Creek Drive. Several streets will be given a second layer of asphalt or blacktop to keep the exposed layer from decaying. Other projects include fire
hydrants, curbs and street lights, as well as a number of other small fixes.

Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven said he met with representatives of the bond company on Friday, and the workers started on Monday, marking up the punch list. He said the concrete work should be done this week, “if the weather holds.”

Nevenhoven said the only thing that could hold up everything being completed on time is that the street lights need to be ordered. Improvements are expected to be done by this fall.

The village in April 2010 declared Blackberry Creek Subdivision developers B&B Enterprises, Inc. to be in material default for unfinished street and other infrastructure work, and called for more than $10 million in developer insurance bonds to pay for the improvements.

Since then, the village has been working with the bond company to complete an agreement on the necessary improvements.

“That’s the best news I’ve heard today,” trustee Jerry Schmidt said.

Schmidt is one of several village board members who live in Blackberry Creek.

High School students recognized for Land Use Plan participation

Photo: The Kaneland students that helped with the Land Use plan were presented awards and were honored at the village board meeting. Photo by Kimberly Anderson

Students recognized were: Nick Albano, Erika Carlson, Madi Jurcenko, Emily Laudont,
Caitrin Mills, Eric Meuer, Anthony Parillo, Paige Wagner and Kelly Wallner

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Kaneland High School senior Nick Albano is on the varsity baseball team. He’s also an Eagle Scout, a cross country runner on his high school team, a participant in the Model United Nations Club and a member of the National Honor Society.

KHS sophomore Caitrin Mills has always been interested in acting, beginning with middle school plays and musicals. She was chosen to play a part in “Les Miserables,” and was the stage manager for “West Side Story—Kaneland Edition” this year. She is the vice president of the TINA (This Is No Act) improvisation club, and a member of the Scholastical junior varsity team.

What the two students share is a love of Elburn, and a desire to make it even better in the future. Albano and Mills last year joined eight other KHS students in providing input to help revise the Comprehensive Land Use Plan for Elburn.

The classmates on Monday were recognized for their participation by the Elburn Village Board.

Village President Dave Anderson, who introduced the students, said they made him feel good as a member of the Elburn community and as a parent.

“I wish to compliment your instructor in the selection process, because he selected a fine, fine group of students to help this community in planning for your future,” Anderson said.

Social studies teacher Mark Meyer said that Village Administrator Erin Willrett approached him about getting the students involved in the process of determining Elburn’s future. He and several other teachers then helped to identify the students. They chose two students from each class—two freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors. Because the project was to cover about a year, they decided to include only students who would still be at the school the following year.

Meyer said the students had learned in their classes about sustainable development, as well as farm land usage and water sustainability, so they were aware of some of the issues regarding growth.

Mills, who has lived in Elburn 13 of her 16 years, said that there are many things she likes about Elburn, including its small-town feeling.

She likes the fact that people can feel safe walking anywhere in town. She also enjoys the library, where she works part time.

Albano has lived in Elburn since he was born, and his family has been in this area since the early 1900s. He said that although he would like to move somewhere else for a while, he plans on coming back to live in Elburn. Albano said he loves the Metra train, because he can get to downtown Chicago in an hour.

He said he hopes ShoDeen will make the Elburn Station development inviting.

“If it ends up similar to Geneva around the train station, it’ll be really really good for Elburn,” he said.

Albano, Mills, and their classmates Eric Meuer and Jeremy Faletto, during a recent discussion agreed that it would be great to have a place in town where they could hang out, such as a coffee shop or something similar. However, Albano and Meuer said their No. 1 desire was for an amphitheater on the south side of Elburn, where they could go and listen to music.

The students said they would like to see Elburn grow, but they would like to see it expand outward around the downtown area instead of being too spread out.

Meuer said he would like more green space and more trees, especially in the downtown area. Albano agreed, saying he thinks the church parking lot would better serve the village as a park.

Faletto would like a swimming pool in town, and more restaurants that aren’t bars. Meuer said there are already enough banks in Elburn—eight in total. And Albano said a music store would be great, “something to bring people to the downtown area.”

The teens are also in agreement about what they don’t want, namely another Randall Road. They also don’t want Elburn to be like Sugar Grove, which they feel is spread out too much.

The students would prefer to avoid “a lot of town houses and suburban ‘pop-ups,’” and disconnected subdivisions such as Blackberry Creek.

“I’d like to keep the small-town feel, but to add more things to draw people—something that connects the people” Faletto said.

Albano’s mother, Sheila, said that Nick really enjoyed participating in the project. During the meeting with other members of the community, he invited some of his friends to come and give their input.

“A couple adults said they were very impressed with the kids,” Sheila said.

Although the adults and the students had some very different ideas about what they would like to see for Elburn’s future, Sheila said the kids were very respectful of the other community members.

Anderson said that some of the students asked him about why they were chosen to give their input.

“Our plan at that time was 23 years old,” he said. “Twenty-three years from now, guess what? You’re sitting where we (the trustees) are now.”

Anderson said that having the high school students involved was such a success that Images Plus, the consulting firm that created the plan, is encouraging other communities to get their high school students involved.

“Be proud of yourselves, because we’re proud of you,” Anderson said to the students.

Water, sewer rate increases to help update aging systems

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The public is invited, along with village trustees, to take a tour of Elburn’s waste-water treatment plant on Saturday, April 20, at 9 a.m.

A representative from Engineering Enterprises, Inc. will attend the village’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, April 22, to present information about what is needed to update and modify the plant.

Public Works superintendent John Nevenhoven said the plant is vintage 1980s, and trustees will be able to see for themselves “how it operates and how it doesn’t operate.”

Nevenhoven said during budget talks that the village has put off capital improvement projects of the water and sewer systems for so long, that it’s necessary to make that investment now.

One of the big ticket items in next year’s budget is $300,000 for engineering and other start-up work for the waste-water treatment plant modernization project.

“We very much have an ancient system,” Nevenhoven said. “These funds will get us started.”

The board held off on a vote to approve the 2013-14 budget until April 22 due to the absence of trustees Jeff Walter and Ethan Hastert at the Village Board meeting on Monday. The board, however, did approve the water and sewer rate increases that will help to pay for the infrastructure costs.

According to trustee Bill Grabarek, the money from the water and sewer rates charged to the residents goes into something called an “enterprise fund,” which means that the money coming in must cover the cost of providing the services.

Nevenhoven explained that an average customer uses 700 cubic feet, or 5,000 gallons of water per month. This customer would see an increase in their bill of about $6 a month, up from $55 a month to $61.

The new rates will take effect May 1, with the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Elburn Village Board approves Land Use Plan

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board at its April 1 meeting approved the village’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, a project approximately one year in the making.

The project was completed with the assistance of the consulting firm Images, Inc., and with input of a variety of individuals, business and community groups, students and community members, in addition to Village Board members.

The plan maps out the village’s future for the next 20-plus years, updating the previous version, which was completed 23 years ago. The plan covers territory within 1.5 miles of the boundaries of the village, and lays out areas for residential, commercial, industrial and mixed-use development, as well as where land will be set aside as open space.

The total population at build-out, including the long-term expansion of the area, is projected at 41,737. The current population of the village is 5,602.

The project was funded through a grant from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the regional planning organization for the counties of northeastern Illinois.

Calling it a step in the right direction, Village President Dave Anderson thanked Carrie Hansen of Images, Inc. for her time and effort, and CMAP for the funding that made the project possible.

“We just updated a 23-year-old document,” Village Administrator Erin Willrett said. “That’s huge.”

Elburn plan commissioner wins seat on Village Board

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Patricia Schuberg said that one of her major goals for the village, now that she has won a seat on the Elburn Village Board, is to get the word out about Elburn.

“I want people to know that it’s a viable and active community, and a good place for a business to put down roots,” she said.

Schuberg, one of four candidates vying for three seats on the Elburn Village Board, ended up receiving the most votes, according to unofficial results. Schuberg received 240 votes, Jeffrey Walter received 237, and Kenneth Anderson, Jr. landed 203. Walter and Anderson are incumbents who won their bids for re-election. Michael Rullman received 116 votes.

Trustee Jerry Schmidt did not seek re-election.

Schuberg has served on the Elburn Plan Commission for the past 15 years, including six years as its chair. She believes that her experience in government and business will help her to be an effective member of the Village Board from the beginning. She said she decided to run for a board seat at this time because Elburn is at a turning point in its development.

“There is a lull in our planning cycle, and policies and decisions are being made that will set the tone for years to come,” she said.

The biggest difference she would like to see four years from now when her term is completed is more balance between rooftops and business. Schuberg said there is an ordinance for an economic development commission on the books, and she will encourage Village President Dave Anderson to get that started again.

Schuberg would like to see future development that would not just cost the current residents more, but that would bring something of value to the village.

“Let’s get those open storefronts filled,” she said.

Schuberg said she would like to see all kinds of businesses, not just retail, but offices, commercial manufacturing and more.

“A healthy economic base has a wide diversity of businesses,” she said.

Schuberg, 53, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a Masters of Business Administration from Aurora University, with more than 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and consulting. She is currently an account manager with a textbook publisher for institutions of higher education.

She is also an active volunteer within the community. She began serving as a den leader when her two sons were in Cub Scouts, and continued on with scouting through Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts. Among other commitments, Schuberg has also been actively involved in Elburn Baseball and Softball, and she is a member of the Town and Country Library Friends.

Schuberg said it is good to know that, with the election behind her, she can get down to work and serve. She will be sworn in on Monday, May 6.

Watson hits Hall of Fame

Local sports writer to be inducted into Kaneland Hall of Fame
by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Don Watson will be inducted into the Kaneland Hall of Fame this spring as a “Friend of Kaneland.” His connection with the Kaneland District and its athletic teams goes back to the early 1970s, when he and his family moved to Elburn.

Sports coverage for the Kaneland athletic teams was virtually non-existent when Watson arrived in town. The Elburn Herald would sometimes have only a paragraph or two in its weekly coverage, and the daily papers were busy covering the larger schools in Geneva, Batavia and St. Charles.

Watson had two boys in sports—one a swimmer, the other a diver—and as a proud father, he wanted to acknowledge their accomplishments. He approached Louise Cooper, owner, editor and publisher of the Elburn Herald at the time, with the idea of writing about the Kaneland sports events.

Cooper told him that if he wrote something, and there was space for it, the paper would print it.

“I had never done anything like this previously,” Watson said.

His college degree was in business, with minors in psychology and music.

Watson began by covering the boys’ basketball season in 1974, and his first article about the Sycamore King Korn Tournament, titled “Knights shucked in Korn Tournament,” ran in the Dec. 5 issue.

“It was the beginning of a journey that covered a span of 28 years for this part-time sports writer,” Watson said. “I was able to be a witness to some of the most memorable Kaneland sports teams and tell the community about their accomplishments.”

During that time, boys and girls track both won two state championships, as did the boys cross-country team and the girls basketball team. Kaneland also documented two back-to-back undefeated football teams in 1997 and 1998.

Pattie Patterman, now a language arts teacher at Kaneland Harter Middle School, was a sophomore on the Kaneland girls basketball team in 1982, when it won the state championship. She played basketball all four years, and was on the varsity team during her sophomore, junior and senior years.

“I have such fond memories of Don,” she said. “He was more like a member of the team than just a reporter. He knew everyone personally and he was with the parents in the stands.”

Patterman said that Watson not only wrote about the star players who scored the most or had the most rebounds, but also documented whoever had a good game that night, whether it was handling the ball or registering steals.

The girls team knew that the community was strongly behind them. According to Patterman, you couldn’t drive anywhere without seeing team signs in yards.

Patterman will be the one to introduce Watson at his induction ceremony. She said she is happy to be able to honor someone who was such a supportive part of her high school years.

“He continued to be there throughout my whole high school experience,” she said. “If we were there, he was there. He was a very positive influence.”

Watson didn’t just write about sports; he was instrumental in establishing a women’s athletic program at Waubonsee Community College. He established the Lady Chiefs volleyball program at Waubonsee Community College in 1977, and served as head coach for the next 14 years. His teams finished in the Skyway Conference’s top three at least seven times during that stretch.

Watson helped to establish the women’s softball program, as well, and coached the team to victory in the Skyway Conference in 1980. He was inducted into the WCC Hall of Fame in 2010.

He also coached the girls volleyball team at Hinckley-Big Rock High School for 13 years.

Watson was quite an athlete himself, and at 50 years of age began playing on an Illinois volleyball team that went on to compete in nine straight Senior Nationals. He also played with the team in the USA Volleyball National Championships in Phoenix.

Watson continues to be an inspiration to young people in the area. When he turned in his last story to the Elburn Herald, the paper honored him with the title “Sports Editor Emeritus,” and established a scholarship in his name. The Elburn Herald Donald L. Watson Scribe Award is a journalism-specific award in honor of his development of sports coverage for the Elburn Herald.

Watson said he was happy that he could give the athletes at Kaneland an outlet for their accomplishments, and a place where they could go and read their names in the paper.

“It was a fun gig,” he said.

Board provides its comprehensive plan footprint

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—The Elburn Village Board on Monday gave its last few comments regarding the village’s comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Carrie Hansen, director of planning and government relations for Images Inc., which facilitated the creation of the plan, brought revisions that board members had requested during their last meeting with her.

The changes included the addition of the Elburn Station development, now that it has been approved and annexed. The revision also eliminated several of the commercial areas initially included on the north side of town, as well as those on the north side of Route 47 and Main Street Road. Trustee Ken Anderson had asked Hansen to eliminate the commercial use designation there, because the existence of a flood plain in the area would more than likely rule out future development there.

The area of Route 47 south of the downtown area, which had been designated single-family residential, was extended further south as commercial, also based on board member feedback.

Commercial development will take on a different form, depending on its location in the village, Hansen said. She recommended retail development at the primary intersections of Route 38 and Route 47, and Route 47 and Keslinger Road. She said that commercial uses in other locations would likely be more of the service-oriented, office-oriented and campus-type development, to be compatible with the adjacent residential areas.

New industrial development is called for in areas where it can capitalize on close proximity to regional transportation, such as the Union Pacific Railroad, Keslinger Road, Route 47 and Route 38.

Hansen also provided the board with projected population figures based on the plan, with the initial infill and primary expansion adding almost 12,000 people over the next 20 years or so. The long-term expansion would create a total population of close to 42,000 at complete build-out.

Elburn’s current population is 5,602.

“That’s not to say you’re ever going to be that big,” Hansen said to the board. “The numbers are possible if this plan gets realized.”

Trustee Bill Grabarek had some minor corrections and clarifications in the wording of the plan. He said that this was the first revision to the plan in 23 years, and includes the two largest projects the village has ever had. He said he wanted that to be precise.

Hansen said she would get the final changes to the board for its meeting on Monday, April 1.

Round two for village budget

Editor note: Trustee Bill Grabarek’s name was left off a quote attributed to him, which made it look like Elburn Police Chief Steve Smith said the quote. Further, the Elburn Police are in the process of acquiring the AR-15 weapons, and did not have them as of press time. The Herald regrets these errors.

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—During a budget discussion at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Village President Dave Anderson said he does not support hiring a full-time police officer at this point in time. According to Police Chief Steve Smith, the department has been filling the shifts of a full-time vacancy with part-time officers for more than two years.

Smith said that a state statute states that a full-time vacancy may not be permanently filled with part-time officers. In addition, he said more full-time officers give the department more consistency in scheduling.

Hiring part-time officers is less expensive—the hourly rate is lower, and the village does not have to pay for benefits, vacation time, etc. However, trustee Dave Gualdoni said his concern is that if an officer is injured while on the job, the village is responsible for paying worker’s compensation for his full-time position elsewhere, as well as for his part-time position with the village.

The police department has also budgeted $7,500 for ammunition for the year, up from the projected cost of $1,371 in 2012-13, to accommodate training on new weapons. The Elburn Police Department received 10 AR-15’s from the St. Charles Police Department at no cost to the village. St. Charles obtained the weapons from a federal program dispersing excess military stock, and is currently transitioning to new weapons.

The Elburn police officers will exchange their shotguns for the AR-15’s, a military grade weapon that is more accurate, has a longer range and accommodates a 20-round magazine. The other advantage, according to Smith, is that if the bullet misses its target and hits a car window or wall, it will break apart instead of ricocheting off of it, possibly hurting an innocent bystander.

Elburn, as of press time, did not yet have the weapons.

Smith said the AR-15, known in the military as an M-16, will give the Elburn police officers more firepower, putting them on a more even playing field with what people on the street might have.

“Sometimes police find themselves out-gunned,” he said. “You don’t want to wait until that happens.”

While the frangible nature of the ammunition used in these weapons prevents innocent bystanders from being hurt, it also shatters soft tissue once it hits its target.

“I’ve never been in a gunfight or a war, but those are pretty vicious weapons. Unfortunately, there are bad guys out there, and you do want a weapon that’s effective. But how destructive do we want the weapons to be? At close range, it can blow a guy apart,” said trustee Bill Grabarek.

All sworn officers will train and become certified on the new weapons, Smith said.

Village President Anderson would like to hire a village financial director in the next fiscal year, freeing up Village Administrator Erin Willrett to concentrate on her area of expertise: economic development.

Anderson said that Willrett has spent the last four years keeping an eye on the village’s finances with the assistance of a financial consultant, but he thinks it’s time to hire a person full-time with a background in finance.

The 2013-14 village budget shows a modest increase in the village revenues, including property, sales and income taxes. What that also means, interim Village Administrator Doug Elder said, is modest increases on the expense side. The budget calls for an average 3 percent increase for village employees, as well as an increase in the cost of their medical benefits.

Anderson said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the state will decide not to revert its Local Government Distributive Fund back to 2012 levels, something it threatened to do several weeks ago.

Elder said that the board will need to decide if it is time to conduct a formal analysis of the water and sewer rates, to make sure that the village is allowing for the cost of daily operation and ongoing maintenance of the water and sewer systems.

Several board members said they wanted to bring back the village’s National Night Out, an event sponsored by the Police Department that was cancelled last year.

The bottom line on the village budget is $267,000 to the good.

The Village Board will hold a public hearing on the appropriation ordinance at its April 1 meeting. The proposed appropriation ordinance shows the maximum amount approved by the board that may be spent on specific items, while the operating budget is the day-to-day guide for how the village will spend its money.

The appropriation ordinance will be available for public inspection in Elburn Village Hall from March 28 through April 15. The Village Board will vote on the appropriation ordinance and the budget at its April 15 meeting. The fiscal year will begin on May 1.

Board allows video gaming in Elburn

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn village trustee Ken Anderson’s question to his fellow board members, “How does this (video gambling) improve the quality of life in Elburn?” went unanswered on Monday evening.

Instead, the board voted 5-1 to approve an ordinance allowing video gaming machines in Elburn establishments that serve liquor.

Village Board members Bill Grabarek and Jeff Walter had joined Anderson in 2009 in voting for a ban on video gaming. However, Walter, who said two business owners in town had recently approached him about revisiting the ban, brought video gaming before the board again last month.

“What concerns me is Blackberry Inn has allowed it,” Walter said at the time. “Are we going to lose customers? Are we going to lose tax dollars?”

Blackberry Bar & Grill, south of town in unincorporated Kane County, installed three video gaming machines last fall after Kane County reversed its ban on video gaming. Two more machines were delivered on Feb. 20 for a total of five altogether, the maximum allowed.
Screen shot 2013-03-21 at 10.51.12 AM
The revenue gained from video gaming is split between the bar owner, the gaming terminal provider and the state, with the bar owner and the terminal provider each receiving 35 percent, and the state receiving 30 percent. The municipality (or in the case of an unincorporated area, the county) receives one-sixth of the state’s take, or 5 percent of the total revenues.

Anderson had said he was concerned about the message that allowing the machines in town would send, as well as enabling people to gamble away money they could not afford to lose.

However, trustee Dave Gualdoni and Village President Dave Anderson said they didn’t feel they should dictate to others how to live their lives. In addition, Dave Anderson said that if people didn’t gamble in Elburn, the opportunity exists four miles down the road.

Grabarek said he had received phone calls and emails from residents asking him why he had decided to reverse his earlier stance on the machines, and stated that he didn’t want to hurt the businesses in town. He said he would like to see how it goes, and that the village could hold a referendum in a couple of years if the board members thought the issue needed to be looked at again.

Trustees Jerry Schmidt, Ethan Hastert, Walter, Grabarek and Gualdoni voted in favor of the video gaming ordinance.

Tavern owners who have a liquor license may apply for a video gaming license through the Illinois Gaming Board. Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt—trustee Schmidt’s son—and Knucklehead’s owner Betsy Brizek have both said they would apply for the license.

The Elburn Lions Club initially considered applying for a license, but ultimately decided not to pursue it.

Blackberry Township asks for more money for roads

Blackberry Township by the numbers

58 miles
of road, 52 in blacktop, six in gravel

90 percent
of funding to maintain township roads comes from property taxes

1.9 percent
of property tax bill comes to the road district

If referendum passes, a $300,000 home owner pays an extra
$140 per year

75 percent
of Elburn is in Blackberry Township

$50 of every $100
collected comes back to the village of Elburn

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Blackberry Township Road Commissioner Rod Feece during Monday’s Village Board meeting made a plea for a referendum vote to increase the property tax levy for township roads.

According to Feece, the tax rate has been the same for 35 years, and at the current pace of overlaying one to one-and-a-half miles of road per year, he said the township has been “falling further and further behind.”

“We’re at a crucial time,” Feece said.

The township consists of 58 miles of road, 52 of which are blacktop, with six still in gravel. Feece said he hopes to increase the number of miles of blacktop maintained per year to five or six.

Approximately 90 percent of the funding to maintain the township roads comes from property taxes, with the remaining 10 percent from motor fuel taxes, Feece said. The impact of the tax levy increase on a homeowner of a $300,000 home would be an additional $140 in property taxes per year, or just under $12 a month.

Although the township has been successful in obtaining a couple of grants, the money had to be used for specific purposes, such as $210,000 to bridges and $40,000 to build a new barn.

He said he does not plan to hire any additional people, nor will he use the money to purchase extra machinery.

“Everything extra will go to paving,” he said.

Approximately 75 percent of the village of Elburn is within the township, as well as a small portion of North Aurora. Feece said that if a resident pays $100 in taxes to the township, $50 of that comes back to Elburn, and although that money that gets deposited into the general fund, Village President Dave Anderson said that it will be used for streets.

“Nobody wants to pay taxes, but if we do agree as a democracy that we will tax ourselves, it’s visible—we see the result,” Anderson said.

Board unanimously approves Elburn Station

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—A round of applause followed the Village Board’s unanimous approval of the Elburn Station agreement on Monday.

“I was 28 when we started this discussion, and now I’m 58,” Village President Dave Anderson said, referring to the fact that the board and ShoDeen developer Dave Patzelt have been talking about the mixed-use development for some time now.

With nothing but “nits” to pick, according to trustee Bill Grabarek, village attorney Bob Britz said he felt confident that Patzelt would agree to the last-minute corrections.

“None of these are substantive changes,” Britz said. “He (Patzelt) agrees with the agreement as it is.”

The 484-acre development, situated around the Elburn Metra train station, will bring 2,215 total units and commercial development to the village over the next 20 years.

Now that the annexation and development agreement, the zoning ordinance and the establishment of a special services area have been approved, the next step is the construction of the Anderson Road extension and bridge.

The bridge project, which will extend Anderson Road from Route 38 to Keslinger Road and over the Union Pacific railroad tracks, must be completed before ShoDeen can begin construction of Elburn Station.

Kane County Board member Drew Frasz and Department of Transportation Director Tom Rickert were on hand on Monday, and gave a thumbnail sketch of the timeline for the bridge project. According to Frasz, the land acquisition and funding process is almost complete, and in the next few months they will be putting together bid packages.

“Our number-one goal is to move earth, hopefully by Sept. 1,” he said.

Construction will begin in 2014, and could be done by late 2014 or early 2015.

“We’re excited,” Frasz said. “Let the dirt fly.”

The road and bridge project was in jeopardy last October, due to the board’s vote to table discussion regarding the development. Frasz and Rickert had been concerned that they could lose the $22 million in federal, state and local funding for the bridge.

Grabarek made the motion to table the discussion, because he was not comfortable with a number of the elements of the plan. He, trustee Jeff Walter and other board members have since brought forward a number of issues. Walter said he has kept track of concerns that residents have brought forward, and has tried to address them.

Changes to the plan within the last few months include limiting the number of multi-family units to 400—plus up to an additional 200 as long as they are designated as senior housing—and requirements for completion of public improvements within the development.

In addition, ShoDeen agreed to share in the cost of a pedestrian bridge that will connect the development with the current downtown area.

The changes remaining on Monday night were minor, but still, Grabarek continued to seek clarification.

Frasz said that he had nothing but admiration for Grabarek and the rest of the board.

“This is the biggest decision that the board will make in decades,” he said. “This will be Bill’s legacy; that it will be done right.”

Patzelt said he is pleased that the Village Board voted for the development, and he looks forward to partnering with the village on the Elburn Station development.

“Now the work begins,” he said.

Elburn Station negotiations hit a snag

One item remains before development moves forward
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Negotiations for the Elburn Station development hit a snag Monday night when interim Village Administrator Doug Elder informed the board that ShoDeen developer Dave Patzelt did not agree with the requirement that he complete area one, the section of the development with single-family homes, first.

“Dave Patzelt of ShoDeen Development said he never agreed with that, and does not agree with that, and he will not agree to that,” Elder said.

Village Attorney Bob Britz said he also spoke with Patzelt, and asked him his reasons for objecting to this requirement.

According to Britz, Patzelt had several reasons, one of which was that he doesn’t want to be prohibited from commencing development of the other areas first. Patzelt said he wants the market to determine the products he develops first.

“Basically he’s telling us he wants to build apartments first, cause that’s what the market calls for,” trustee Jeff Walter said. “That’s not the kind of development I’m looking for—at least not as the first phase.”

“I’d hate to jeopardize the development if he can’t sell single-family homes when the bridge is done,” trustee Jerry Schmidt said. “If there is a market for single-family homes, let him build that. If there’s a market for condos or apartments, let him build that. We need this development.”

Britz said he invited Patzelt to the meeting, but the ShoDeen developer didn’t want to attend.

On Tuesday, Patzelt said that there were several reasons for his rejecting the part of the agreement. First, he said that when Village President Dave Anderson came back to him a month ago with the main concerns the board had with the plan as it was, completion of area one before others could be started was not mentioned.

“This is a new problem,” Patzelt said.

In addition, Patzelt said that if he had to wait to begin a second area of construction until he had completed the first, it would take a year to 18 months to complete the roads and other infrastructure before he could begin building homes, and he would lose that momentum from one area to the next.

“Although the areas are numbered, this doesn’t imply an order for when each would get built,” he said. “For example, area one might get split into two or three phases. We may not build all 149 at once; we may start with 35 or 50 or 70.”

Patzelt said that area one includes 149 single family homes, with 70- and 80-foot-lot sizes. It does not call for single-family homes on 60-, 50- or 40-foot lots, which are elsewhere in the development.

“Area one may not have the latest and greatest current market-selling products,” he said.

As far as what the market will dictate, Patzelt said that he doesn’t know what that will be, because he can’t proceed with the actual development until the Anderson Road extension and bridge is completed, and that will take a year and a half.

“It’s not what is the market now; it’s what is the market when the bridge is completed,” he said.
Patzelt said that if the board is concerned about the multi-family units being built first, area one is not the only area without multi-family units. Areas two, three, seven, eight and nine do not include multi-family units, either.

“Why not start with one of them?” he asked.

Trustee Ken Anderson suggested the board change the requirement from the first area having to be completed to it having to be started. The modification was to be sent back to Patzelt on Tuesday.

According to Elder, this was the one remaining issue that the ShoDeen developer had. Patzelt had agreed to the other changes the board suggested, and Britz read through those changes for the board. The vote on the development has been set for the Village Board meeting on Monday, March 18.

Village budget process may be affected by state financial problems

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—If Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is successful, Elburn and other Illinois municipalities will see a decrease in their share of the state income taxes in the coming fiscal year.

According to an alert from the Illinois Municipal League, the Governor’s Office is proposing to cap the LGDF (Local Government Distributive Fund) at the 2012 level of $81 per resident.

The current level for Elburn for 2013 is $90 per person, a total of $504,180, based on a population of 5,602. If the cap is implemented, Elburn’s share of the Illinois income taxes would be reduced by $11.50 per person, for a total loss of $64,423. The projection for fiscal year 2013-14 had been $95.40 per person.

“That’s a pretty big hit on our revenue,” said Doug Elder, who has taken on Village Administrator Erin Willrett’s responsibilities while she has been on leave. “The state’s unresolved financial problems have placed the LGDF at great risk.”

Calling it a “bombshell” from the state, Elder encouraged the trustees to call their state legislators and the governor to tell them that the decrease is unacceptable.

The Village Board reviewed the revenue portion of the operating budget on Monday. The water and sewer fees, which residents pay based on their usage, make up 33 percent of the village’s budget. The majority of the remainder of the revenues is made up of taxes, such as property taxes, sales tax, income tax, utility tax, court fines and others.

The equalized assessed value for the village of Elburn, on which the property taxes are based, has gone down each year since the economy took a hit in 2008.

“That’s a total loss of more than 20 percent,” trustee Bill Grabarek said.

Although the EAV has been going steadily down since 2008, property tax rates have been going up, resulting in higher property taxes on existing property owners and an overall net increase in village revenues.

The board has previously reviewed the draft budgets of the individual village budgets, and will take a look at the big picture at the March 25 meeting.

The proposed appropriation ordinance shows the maximum amount approved by the board that may be spent on specific items, and the operating budget is the day-to-day guide for how the village will spend its money.

The appropriation ordinance will be available for public inspection in Elburn Village Hall from March 26 through April 15, with a public hearing on April 1.

The Village Board will vote on the appropriation ordinance and the budget at its April 15 meeting, and the fiscal year will begin on May 1.

What’s the plan?

Web Editor’s note: The Elburn Herald incorrectly referred to trustee Jeff Walter as “Jeff Walker” in the print edition of this story. The Herald regrets the error.

Board not ready to vote on Comprehensive Plan
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Village Board members concluded they are not ready to vote on the draft Comprehensive Plan on Monday, March 18, based on concerns regarding some of the elements of the plan.

Images, Inc., the consulting firm that created the plan, based on input from a number of groups and residents within the village, presented it to the board in a public hearing on March 4. The main concerns board members had were the placing of commercial and industrial parcels in areas far from Elburn’s central downtown area and the amount of growth the plan shows.

“That’s a substantial amount of growth,” trustee Ken Anderson said. “I just don’t know how realistic that is by 2040.”

Anderson went on to say that some of the spots identified for commercial and industrial growth have substantial soil and flooding issues, making it “very unlikely that a commercial development would be viable there.”

“So why show it?” he asked. “We’re creating the value for parcels that don’t have that value now.”

Trustee Jeff Walter had questions about how showing these uses within the Land Use plan would bind the village for the future.

Village attorney Bob Britz said that in litigating zoning matters, the courts address eight factors, with the No. 1 thing the judges look at being the Land Use plan.

Walter said he didn’t think the board was ready to vote on the plan.

“I feel that our comments have been brushed aside, with no plan for addressing any of them,” he said.

Anderson had asked Images, Inc. Carrie Hanson for population numbers, based on the elements of the plan. He said he will be interested to see what those are.

The trustees agreed that they would use the March 25 Committee of the Whole for more discussion about the plan. Village President Dave Anderson and trustee Ethan Hastert were not present at the meeting on Monday.

Video gaming vote postponed

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Village President Dave Anderson on Monday put off voting on the video gaming issue, due to the absence of two trustees. Jerry Schmidt was on vacation, and Ethan Hastert was called out of town for work.

Elburn resident Al Herra still had some feedback for the board on the issue.

“Before you vote on this, you should think about who wins,” Herra said. “It’s not the community that wins.”

Herra said that the people who lose their money at video gaming end up not having it to spend at other businesses. Calling it a redistribution of the money in town, he said that the only winners are the state of Illinois and the bar with the machines.

The Village Board first considered video gaming in 2009, when trustees implemented a ban on it in the village of Elburn. Although Walter was in favor of the ban at that time, he said that since then, the state has clarified the rules for how it would work.

In addition, Kane County has since reversed its ban, allowing the Blackberry Bar & Grill south of town to install machines last fall. Some of the trustees said they were concerned that Elburn’s dollars would be spent outside of town, including places such as the bar and grill.

Blackberry Bar & Grill owner Pam Moutray said she has been pleased with the results since they installed the machines. They had three put in last fall, and recently added two more, for the five machine maximum.

Moutray stated that she knows some people have concerns that the machines will attract “seedy” people, but said that has “absolutely not been the case.”

“We have husbands and wives who come in together, and they are happy to have some place to go,” she said. “They’re happy to have a neighborhood place to spend their money.”

Moutray said she is also pleased with the revenues the machines are bringing in.

“Our cut has met our expectations and then some,” she said.

The revenue gained from video gaming is split between the bar owner, the gaming terminal provider and the state, with the bar owner and the terminal provider each receiving 35 percent of the revenues, and the state receiving 30 percent. The municipality receives one-sixth of the state’s take, or 5 percent of the total revenue.

Sugar Grove has also lifted its ban, but will hold a citizen referendum on the issue in the spring. The referendum is non-binding and advisory, which means the board is not required to change anything, based on the results of the vote.

Elburn resident Fred Houdek also had some feedback for the board on video gaming, and said he feels that bringing video gaming to Elburn doesn’t really fit with the values of the Elburn residents, and that it “sends the wrong message.”

“I don’t think we’re the ones that are going to profit,” he said.

Schmidt’s Towne Tap owner Kevin Schmidt and Knuckleheads Tavern owner Betsy Brizek have both said they would install the machines in their bars. Although the Elburn Lions Club initially considered video gaming at its facility, Park Board Treasurer Tim Klomhaus said that they had ultimately decided against it.

Anderson did not say when the video gaming issue would be brought before the board.

Elburn Public Works Superintendent honored at Blackhawks game

Photo: Elburn Public Works Director John Nevenhoven smiles with his wife Melissa and son Ryan at the Blackhawks game on Feb. 15. John was one of two veterans honored prior to the game. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven served in the United States Navy for nine years of active duty before going on to college and marrying his wife Melissa. When the World Trade Center was hit on Sept. 11, 2001, their son, Ryan, was six years old.

John said he wanted to do something to contribute to his country. He knew he couldn’t do it fulltime, so he joined the Navy Reserves in November 2001. He serves one weekend a month, as well as participating in two weeks of training every year at Scott Air Force Base outside of St. Louis. He was deployed to Afghanistan for a year in 2006, and was set to go again in 2011, but his tour was cancelled at the last minute.

John has been a big hockey fan since he was in high school, and he and his family frequently watch the Blackhawks play. Melissa noted that before each game, two service members are honored, one active duty and one veteran.

She did some research, and through the USO found a contact to suggest John for the honor. That was in August 2011. The family recently received a call from a representative of the Blackhawks to set the date, and on Feb. 15, John, Melissa and Ryan showed up at the United Center at the appointed time.

John said he was escorted to the penalty box, where he stood next to Jim Cornelison, who performs the national anthem before each game. John and a veteran from the U.S. Army walked out onto the ice and saluted the flag while 21,000 fans cheered through the entire song.

“It was kind of neat to hear that crowd,” John said. “I’ve been to tons of hockey games, but this was a different feeling. Seeing those people cheering the national anthem; it’s an incredible event to be a part of, whether you’re on the ice or in the stands.”

Melissa said the whole thing was quite overwhelming, seeing John out there in his uniform.

“It was very emotional,” she said. “We’re very patriotic to begin with. I’m so extremely proud of him and our service members in general. It’s not just about John.”

What made the event even more special was that the event occurred on Ryan’s 14th birthday.

“He was pretty excited and proud,” Melissa said. “It was such a great way to celebrate.”

John is a member of the United States Transportation Command, which monitors and tracks all pieces of Department of Defense equipment shipped around the world. Whether it’s tanks or bullets, blankets or anything else that service members need during their deployment, Scott Air Force Base is the world-wide logistics hub.

Melissa said that when John joined the reserves in 2001, she stood behind his decision because she knew it was important to him. They didn’t know at the time that he would be called up to go to Afghanistan. However, she said the family has a good local support system, and when John had to leave, they made it through his time away.

“It was difficult, but we were able to email and internet chat and talk on the phone,” she said. “We were very lucky. I kept so busy that I didn’t have time to dwell on it. You do what you have to do.”

Now John has one more reason to thank his wife.

“I always wondered how the Blackhawks chose the service members,” he said. “Melissa should get the Wife of the Year award.”

Public Hearing held for comprehensive plan

by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Residents had an opportunity to provide feedback on Elburn’s 2013 Comprehensive Plan during a public hearing on Monday.

The Village Board will vote on the plan, which describes Elburn’s vision for the next 20 years, at its March 18 meeting. During the same meeting, the board is also scheduled to vote on the annexation agreement for ShoDeen’s Elburn Station development. Should the board approve the Elburn Station development, those plans will be incorporated into this existing plan for the village.

Carrie Hansen, Images Inc. director of planning and government relations, said that over the past year, she and her co-workers met with various village stakeholders, including seniors, members of the business community, community service providers, high school students and the general public, to obtain input on their preferences for the future of Elburn.

The plan is to be used by the village as a guide for future development for the next 20 years, Hansen said. However, she said it is not meant to be a static recommendation, and it is also meant to be flexible.

“It is a dynamic document,” she said.

Hansen began the public hearing with a summary of the plan. She highlighted people’s focus on Elburn’s strong sense of community character, which she said is a “big, big thing.”

“It’s why people live here, stay here and come back here,” she said.

She also said that agriculture is a huge part of Elburn’s history, and that there is a strong commitment to maintaining at least a portion of the land for agriculture, even as the village grows.

The board members gave their comments on the plan first.

Trustee Ken Anderson expressed his concern about designating areas in the outer reaches of the planning area, such as the intersection of Main Street Road and Route 47, for commercial development. He said that given the village’s priority for infilling land closer in to the center of town, he was concerned that it might create speculation among developers and a value to the area that it doesn’t have.

Hansen said that the three phases of development are clearly defined, beginning with the initial infill and redevelopment, then primary expansion and, finally, long-term potential growth. She said that the outer stretches of the planning area (a mile and a half out from the corporate boundaries) are clearly marked for long-term growth.

Anderson said that the original plan called for 22,000 residents, and he wanted to know how many this plan calls for. Hansen said there are many variables that could impact that number, including whether the Elburn Station is approved, as well as varying potential densities for the areas slotted for residential development. Hansen said she would work up an estimate.

Village President Dave Anderson said he wanted to show that public parking in the downtown area is a clear priority, with buildings facing the street and parking available on the back side.

Anderson also mentioned that the Union Pacific has plans for a third rail that will run all the way to Omaha, Neb., adding significantly more train traffic through the downtown area.

Several residents had comments on the plan, including Alan Herra, who said he would like to see additional large parks available for children and their sports, similar to the Lions Club Park. He said that, although there is a lot of Kane County Forest Preserve space, it is mostly reserved for passive uses, such as hiking.

Hansen said she thought that the Forest Preserve District might be open to discussions regarding the future use of its land, and noted that the plan calls for between 6.5 and 10.5 acres of open space for every 1,000 acres.

“You really have a significant amount of high quality natural resources,” Hansen said. “There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity in this area.”

Anderson said that if individuals have additional concerns about the plan, they should contact Hansen or Doug Elder, the consultant filling in for Village Administrator Erin Willrett.

The plan is available for viewing on the village’s website,