Tag Archives: Prairie Parkway

Villages seeking industry

Larger employers bring jobs, could lead to more people, retailers
by Martha Quetsch
Local village officials agree that industry is just as important as retail and residential growth to the area’s economy.

“You have got to have a variety of elements. One feeds off the other,” Maple Park Village President Ross Dueringer said.

MP wants manufacturing jobs
Industry would be great for Maple Park, Dueringer said. But he does not foresee it coming in the near future.

“We have been open to listening to any light industry, but haven’t been approached by anyone. Unfortunately, the last few years, everything has been at a standstill.”

The village lost one longtime company that was located on County Line Road just north of Route 47, a business that made steel shelving, when it moved to Aurora, Dueringer said.

An industrial park was proposed for Pritchard Road about two years ago, but the village could not agree with the developer about annexation terms, Dueringer said.

With industry in town, residents could work locally, and the village would gain property taxes with the new growth without burdening schools like residential development does, Dueringer said.

Dueringer believes industry could attract more retail to the village, too.

SG is industrious
Sugar Grove officials in recent years have been committed to boosting industrial growth in the village. The reason is to increase the number of local jobs, which starts a positive chain reaction, said Perry Clark, former Economic Development Corporation director in Sugar Grove.

“Jobs drive population, and a larger population attracts retail businesses,” Clark said.

Sugar Grove currently has two general locations with industry. One is the 110-acre Waubonsee Corporate Center at Heartland Drive and Route 47, and the other is at Route 30 and Dugan Road.

Until a few years ago, the business park at Heartland and Route 47 was struggling, with just a 30 percent occupancy.

Through the efforts of the village and the EDC, including business incentives and recruitment, the park was redeveloped and renovated, and since has grown to house about 50 companies.

“It used to be a dilapidated, run-down industrial park. We got a lot of complaints from residents about it,” Clark said. “Over a two-year span we grew that industrial park to what it is today.”

The Route 30 and Dugan Road area, comprising 130 acres, also has about 50 businesses. Most are light-industrial companies, Village Planner Mike Ferencak said.

Sugar Grove’s comprehensive land-use plan features other areas village officials want developed partly as industrial property. Those are along both sides of Interstate 88 east of Route 47, and around the Aurora Municipal Airport on West Route 30, Ferencak said.

With the goal of drawing even more industry to Sugar Grove, the village is extending Municipal Drive north of Route 30 and extending Galena Boulevard west to meet it. With that improvement, village officials hope Sugar Grove attracts more large companies like HondaJet, which recently decided to locate its Midwest operations at the Aurora Municipal Airport.

Kaneville has first industry
The first industrial company in Kaneville opened in 2008, Linear Kinetics, which produces customized automation systems such as computer-based robotics for manufacturers.

It is the only industry in Kaneville, but village officials would like their town to have more, and so would Kaneville residents, based on their responses to a survey by the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission, formed after the town incorporated in 2006, asked residents what type of development they wanted in Kaneville. About 55 percent of respondents said that industrial and commercial development were important to them, Village President Bob Rodney said.

But they want limited, light-industrial expansion.

“Residents have indicated they don’t want to turn (Kaneville) into a big manufacturing complex,” Rodney said.

Luring additional industry to Kaneville will not be easy, because the village does not have the resources to supply water or sanitary sewer connections, Planning Commission Chairman Joe White said.

White said Planning Commissioners will talk in the coming months to the village’s development consultant about what areas to designate for industry in the new comprehensive plan.

If Kaneville is able to attract industrial companies in the future, the location the village likely will steer them to is along the proposed Prairie Parkway route, in the proximity of the gravel pits, White said. In preliminary discussions about industrial growth, village officials said they did not think industry would be a good fit elsewhere, near residential neighborhoods.

Elburn ready for more
The village of Elburn also welcomes industrial growth, promoting the town’s business centers and buildings on its website, www.elburn.il.us. There, it lists several industrial parks located in Elburn with space still available, either ready to occupy or to build.

One of those is the 12-lot Welch Creek Business Center just north of Keslinger Road on Stover Drive and Herra Street, built in 2006. Its developer, Drew Frasz, said Welch Creek currently has just two vacancies. Others include Columbine Industrial Park, in the area of Keslinger and Thryselius Drive, and Keystone Industrial Park, on Dempsey, Hicks and Paul streets.

Among the many businesses located in these parks are auto repair shops, including the new Boyce Auto Werks in Keystone, custom machining firms, filtration specialists and window and lighting companies.

In addition to the business parks in Elburn, several buildings offering industrial space are located at scattered sites in the village, such as 724 Hicks Drive and 747 Herra St.

The village does not plan unlimited industrial growth, but its comprehensive land-use plan does designate additional land for business parks including a large, undeveloped swath along Keslinger south of Route 47. Village Administrator David Morrison said it already is zoned for manufacturing and commercial use, so a future industrial developer will not have to obtain a zoning change.

“It’s what we call ready to go,” Morrison said.

Village officials made sure four years ago that Welch Creek had manufacturing and commercial zoning, too, rather than a special use.

“That really expediates development,” Morrison said.

Did you know …
about these two local companies that provide products and services to the U.S. military?

Hy-Tek Manufacturing Inc.
1998 Bucktail Lane
Sugar Grove
Hy-Tek Manufacturing Co. Inc. designs and produces specialized products for industrial, commercial and government markets. Clients that Hy-Tek has provided engineering or manufacturing services to include the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard and NASA. Among Hy-Tek’s products is an explosion-resistant design for military applications of its computers.

Controlled Force
609 Thryselius Drive
Controlled Force provides anti-terrorism tactical training programs that teach techniques to police and government agencies for how to respond to personal, physical threats. Its clients include the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Security Forces. The company’s products include Freddy S.T.A.T., a simulation tactical advanced trainer.

Kaneville will develop first comprehensive plan

Village to use input from residents, landowners in planning area

by Susan O’Neill
The village of Kaneville recently obtained a $16,000 Kane County Community Development Block Grant to hire consulting firm Land Vision of St. Charles to complete the village’s first comprehensive plan. The total cost of the project is $26,000, with the village paying the remaining $10,000 from its general fund.

The newly formed Plan Commission began work on the project in March 2007, shortly after the village incorporated in November 2006. Plan Commission Chair Joe White said that to solicit their desires for the future, commissioners met with more than a dozen residents, farmers and business owners with property within the one-and-a-half mile planning area of the village.

The Village Board obtained feedback from village residents through a community survey mailed out last year.

“It was very valuable input,” Village President Bob Rodney said. “Nobody wants dramatic change.”

Kane County Executive Planner Janice Hill, who has worked with the Plan Commission in gathering the information for the plan, said the village wants to ensure that it retains its history and character as it prepares for growth.

Rodney said one of the areas that residents provided input about was improving the walkability of the village. Residents want to be able to more easily walk and bike around the community.

“We’re missing a lot of sidewalks,” he said. “The state’s (financial) problems trickle down to the municipalities. We hope to find a grant a couple of years from now.”

Hill said the walkability issue is one of the most exciting parts of the village’s comprehensive plan. Recent gas prices and health issues have made people more aware of the desirability of getting out of their cars and being able to walk to activities and services in their community.

“Kaneville is one of the first towns to have a full chapter on walkability (in its comprehensive plan),” Hill said. “They will be viewed as a leader in this regard.”

The comprehensive plan will include a land use plan, transportation plan, a plan for agriculture, housing, economic development and the village’s natural resources, White said.

Rodney said Land Vision project manager Walter Madziarz will take all of the information the Plan Commission gathered during the past two years and put it into a meaningful format, with graphics, photographs and maps.

The plan should clearly communicate the village’s land-use goals for the future for the next 20 to 30 years, Rodney said.

The Plan Commission met with Madziarz twice since the beginning of the year. White said the commission will determine a way to obtain feedback from village residents on the plan before the first draft is completed, either with an open house or another survey.

After the draft is completed, the village will hold a public meeting in August or September for additional feedback before the plan is finalized.

White said he anticipates slow growth for Kaneville, with a focus on housing rather than commercial or industrial development.

“It’s a small community with limited development pressure,” White said. “It’s probably going to stay the way it is for a number of years.”

However, White said the Prairie Parkway will be a driving force that could affect development in the eastern portion of the village. The road crosses Main Street Road and ends at Dauberman Road before connecting to Interstate 88, but there is no access to the highway from either road.

White said the village will want to have a buffer between the highway and the village, using open space and landscaping to deal with some of the noise.

Rodney said the plan is a starting point that will provide a foundation for the future; it will be a living document that the village will modify as time goes on.

When the plan is finalized, the Village Board will sit down with some of the surrounding communities to create boundary agreements, Rodney said. One of the major reasons Kaneville residents decided to incorporate in the first place was to protect the village’s borders from unwanted growth from its neighbors, he added.

Village officials have already had some contact with representatives of Sugar Grove and Big Rock, and look forward to meeting with Elburn officials.

Making ‘A to B’ easier

by Susan O’Neill
Next to a land-use plan, a transportation plan for a community or a region may be the most important to establish for a growing area. By developing a transportation plan in conjunction with one for future residential and commercial development, government officials can ensure there are adequate roads to accommodate the increased traffic.

By working with other entities such as developers, the state, county or federal government, and having a plan in place when the money becomes available, a municipality can exercise some control over the necessary road improvements.

Planning ahead for road maintenance precludes the need for more expensive repair down the road. Funding plays a major role in the ability of a village, township or county to accomplish this, as well.

The most significant recent transportation development in the Elburn area has been the extension of the Metra train line west to the village. With an average of 250 to 300 cars per day in the parking lot, the station has exceeded everyone’s expectations, Elburn Village President Jim Willey said.

Elburn Village Administrator Dave Morrison said Metra has requested federal funds to assist with an expansion of the parking lot to accommodate at least another 300 cars. This project should take place in 2009 or 2010.

Willey said the village is actively working with Sho-Deen developers on plans to build around the train station. The biggest hurdle is funding for the expansion of Elburn’s wastewater treatment plant to accommodate the growth.

Willey said it was good to have commercial projects in place at the intersection of Routes 47 and 38 when the recession hit. With Walgreens going up on the northeast corner, there is additional significant business rental opportunity within the Prairie Valley North commercial development where Walgreens is located.

He said the state has plans for a pedestrian signal at the intersection to allow for safe crossing across Route 38 from McDonald’s to the new development. Development of the northwest corner will happen more slowly.

According to Willey, Kane County reports that the exponential increase in traffic counts on Route 47 has begun to level out with the slow-down of the economy. Construction of the Anderson Street overpass, still a county priority, should serve as a functional bypass for local and regional traffic, mitigating some of the excess on Route 47.

Grobmar Investments, LLC, has plans for a multi-tenant retail development at the northwest corner of Keslinger and Route 47, Morrison said. According to Willey, Elburn is working with the Kane County Department of Transportation (KDOT) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for future road improvements in that area.

“However, the cemetery will always be an issue for that corner,” Willey said. “It’s not going anywhere.”

He said there are no solid proposals for the southwest and southeast corners of the intersection.

“A full interchange at I-88 and Route 47 would really benefit Elburn,” Willey said. “Residents have to take a circuitous route to go east on 88.”

Sugar Grove
Sugar Grove is currently extending Municipal Drive north of Route 30 and extending Galena Boulevard west to meet it. Village President Sean Michels said he feels these extensions are important for future commercial and business park development in Sugar Grove. The Municipal Drive extension has proved useful in enticing HondaJet to locate its Midwest operations at the Aurora Municipal Airport.

The village added its own financing to $4 million in funding obtained from the federal government to accomplish these projects.

The roads will provide access for 150 acres of retail development on the southwest side of Route 47 and Galena Boulevard. Plans for extending Municipal Drive farther north to Wheeler Road will facilitate commercial development at the as-yet-undeveloped 180-acre business park, High Pointe Center.

A feasibility study for a full intersection at Interstate 88 and Route 47 is currently under way with funding from the Crown Community Development, the village of Sugar Grove and other property owners in the area. Several years ago, Crown Development proposed a 790-acre mixed-use development around the intersection of Route 47 and Interstate 88 that would benefit from a full interchange there.

Michels said identifying future funding sources such as the Illinois Tollway Highway Authority, developers and IDOT, will be necessary to move the project forward.

Road improvements are scheduled for this spring at Bliss and Merrill roads to make the intersection safer. Blind spots on the road have become more hazardous, as development in the area has led to an increase in traffic. The funding will come from fees collected through Kane County’s recently implemented transportation impact fees.

Michels said the construction of bridges over the Burlington Railroad tracks at Gordon Road and Municipal Drive south of Route 30 would provide alternate routes to Route 47, relieving some of the traffic along the road in that area. The village currently does not have a funding source to accomplish these projects.

Sugar Grove will use more than $1 million of Local Agency Pavement Preservation (LAPP) money for two major overlays at Wheeler and Norris roads. The village will pay $300,000 toward the project, using road impact fees collected from developers. Michels said the village has been able to regularly provide maintenance on village roads and reviews its maintenance plans on a continual basis.

Michels said he thinks the Prairie Parkway will provide an economic benefit to the village, with the Route 30 interchange allowing for easy access.

“Transportation is key to our economic future and our quality of life,” Michels said.

Maple Park
Maple Park recently conducted a transportation study to determine what roads and road improvements were needed to handle increased traffic associated with new residential development. Although development of the John Claire Homes and Grand Pointe Homes projects are both currently on hold, trustee Terry Borg said that once the economy bounces back, progress on these projects and the road improvements will resume.

Two years ago, the village resurfaced selected roads in the old part of the town. With emergency funding, the village built up Main, Elm and Willow streets using crushed rock. With the help of a Kane County Community Development Block Grant, the village rebuilt several sidewalks on the south side of town.

Village President Bob Rodney said Kaneville does not have any road projects planned within the village in the near future. Kaneville Township Road Commissioner Denny Long said the township and village blacktopped most of the roads in the area a few years ago, so they are in fairly good shape.

“We haven’t got the money to consider any improvements for now,” Rodney said.

IDOT engineer Rick Powell said he is hopeful that the study to widen Route 47 between Yorkville and Sugar Grove will take place this year. This is in addition to the stretch of Route 47 from Interstate 80 to Caton Farm Road that will be widened to four lanes as a part of the Prairie Parkway project.

The Prairie Parkway project, a 35-mile north-south highway to connect Interstate 80 to Interstate 88, received federal approval in September 2008 after a process that lasted seven years.

IDOT is currently purchasing land in the corridor where the road will be built. Powell said 2,600 acres will be needed for the highway, as well as to widen the 12 miles of Route 47 from Caton Farm Road to I-80. As of January 2009, IDOT acquired approximately 250 acres of the land needed.

Construction could begin on the road as early as 2010. The first stretch of road that will be built is the 11 miles between routes 71 and 34, with the next priority between routes 34 and 30.

IDOT has $16 million for the Prairie Parkway project in the highway program budget for 2009, with $72 million set aside for 2010-14.

“We keep receiving money to keep moving forward,” Powell said.

Photo: With a parking lot full of cars, the Elburn Metra station is one of the most significant additions to area transportation in recent years. File Photo

Public services adapt to meet community needs

by Martha Quetsch
As the area’s population has grown, local public officials have responded by expanding fire protection, police and public works services, and they are planning future enhancements, as needed.

Fire protection
When Marty Kunkel became Sugar Grove Township Fire District Chief four years ago, the department had 30 paid on call and six full-time contracted firefighters. Now, the department has 26 full-time firefighters on staff, and 34 paid on call.

The department obtained a $1.3 million federal grant last year to hire more than 10 additional firefighters.

Sugar Grove Township Fire District was able to improve its services further in July 2008, stationing nine firefighters at the Oswego Fire Protection District station at 2200 Galena Road, off of Orchard Road.

“It allows us to better cover the southeast section of the township,” Kunkel said.
Kunkel said the department’s response time to the area is five to eight minutes now, compared to 10 to 12 minutes before.

The Sugar Grove Fire station on Municipal Drive and Route 30 currently services the entire Sugar Grove Township, an area of approximately 34 square miles and an estimated population of more than 15,000 people.

With the addition of a ladder truck in 2006, the Fire Department can provide better protection for multi-story buildings, like those found at Waubonsee Community College.

Another equipment improvement, upgrading the communications system, was done when the department was awarded a federal grant for the project two years ago.

“Now we have a wireless infrastructure for data and radio,” Kunkel said.

The Sugar Grove department built its fire station at 25 Municipal Drive in 2005.
Department officials want to build two more stations, in the west and southwest area of the township, to service future development. Station 2 is planned for a 2.5 acre site at 1650 Denny Road, and the district plans to build Station 3 on a yet-to-be-determined site in the southeast portion of the district.

The district’s ultimate goal is to have five more fire stations, in addition to the current site on Municipal Drive. Kunkel said there is a current need for a station in Montgomery, and district officials are looking for property around Jericho and Gordon roads.

Elburn and Countryside Fire District improved its services to the town’s south side in 2003, when it built a second station on Hughes Road. The other fire station is on North Street in downtown Elburn.

The district consists of three chief officers, a full-time fire prevention officer plan reviewer, 12 full-time firefighter/ paramedics and 45 part-time firefighter/paramedics, and one administrative assistant.

The district’s service area encompasses 75 square miles, including Elburn, Lily Lake, Virgil and the Mill Creek subdivision.

Ambulance service also improved locally. Maple Park started its own ambulance service in 2005 after a successful referendum, and several years ago, Kaneville contracted with Big Rock for ambulance service for $30,000 a year.

The village of Kaneville improved its community policing by contracting with the Kane County Sheriff’s Department more than a year ago to provide extra patrols in the village. The move was in response to many residents’ complaints regarding speeding vehicles on Main Street and Harter Road during the morning and evening commute hours.

The extra patrols are performed by off-duty county officers, using official county vehicles. The county officers have, during the past year, issued many citations and warnings, according to Kaneville officials, who plan to continue contracting for these patrols to control drivers who disregard posted speed limit and stop signs.

The village of Elburn increased its Police Department manpower since Jim Linane was named police chief in 2001. When the village hired Linane, it had seven full-time and three part-time officers, compared to nine full-time and eight part-time officers now, plus a community service officer.

Expanding staff was necessary, since the village population has almost doubled, and calls for police service have gone from 6,400 a year to approximately 20,500, Linane said.

Linane’s goal when he was hired was to improve professionalism in the Police Department.

“Prior to me getting here, it was kind of a revolving door. The department could not hold on to experienced officers,” Linane said. “Officers would come to get experience and then leave; the problem I saw with that type of setup was that the officers tended to be more aggressive and generate more complaints.”

To restore the citizens’ faith in the Police Department, Linane hired an experienced group of officers who average 21 years of experience. He said this strategy has been successful; the department now receives very few citizen complaints regarding policing.

“We have a very low officer turnover now,” Linane said.

Other Elburn Police Department improvements during the past eight years include acquiring a better fleet of vehicles with uniform equipment and installation, Linane said.

“The cars that were here when I got here were poorly equipped and had a lot of miles on them,” Linane said.

The department purchased a community service truck for its new community service officer, and began using older vehicles for secondary use, including administrative take-home cars.

The village a few years ago, obtained a grant from the federal Bullet-Proof Vest Program. The money paid half of the expense of bullet-proof vests for Elburn officers, which cost $600 apiece.

Since 2001, the village has equipped its squad cars and station with upgraded radios and computers. The Police Department also improved its firing range on Thyrisileus Road.

“We doubled the size of it and added the firing range building,” Linane said.

The village relied on donated manpower for the project, including local Boy Scouts for the landscaping.

Elburn Police Department now has a Bike Patrol Program, training three officers to provide police presence in places that are not accessible to squad cars, such as park festivals and other special events.

In March, the Police Department will kick off its Citizens Emergency Response Team, which will utilize volunteers to help keep the community safe.

Also in the future, Elburn may enlarge its police station at the current municipal complex, 301 E. North St., if needed.

The approximate cost of the project, which also would include a larger village hall, is between $21 million to $23.3 million, an estimate that could rise 4 to 6 percent each year, a consultant told the Village Board several months ago.

“We are very cramped for space, not just in square footage but function,” Linane said. “Our station is approximately 1,400 square feet and should be approximately 5,000 square feet for current staffing.

The village would pay for the municipal complex expansion with future development impact fees. Trustees are not planning the project for the near future; however, they want to be prepared if population growth leads to a municipal space shortage.

In the future, Linane will work toward expanding the department’s specialties, including investigations, he said. He also wants to start a Citizens Police Academy, featuring classes and speakers about how Police Department and law enforcement work.

“Citizens will be able to get a better understanding of what the police do,” Linane said. “Most people don’t come in contact to the Police Department. We’re kind of a mystery to them.”

Streets and sewers
Elburn in recent years has replaced several million dollars worth of streets and sidewalks and village officials plan to continue annual improvements. Village President Jim Willey said upgrading Elburn’s worn-out streets was a priority for his administration when he took office 12 years ago.

In Sugar Grove, village officials hope to obtain financing from future developers for a tollway on-ramp from Route 47. The village would first conduct a feasibility study for the project, a $196,000 expense that also will require developer donations. The interchange currently only allows for traffic to access I-88 going west and does not provide an on-ramp to travel east. Residents from north of Sugar Grove must travel south on Route 47 to Route 56, or east to Orchard Road, to access the tollway heading east.

In September 2008, the Federal Highway Administration approved a controversial local road project—the installation of a north-south highway called Prairie Parkway, designed to provide an alternative route for some Route 47 traffic.

Prairie Parkway will extend from I-88 near Kaneville, south to I-80 west of Mokena.

With the federal approval, the state may use about $182 million in federal road funds to begin work on the first five-mile stretch of Prairie Parkway. Further construction will depend on availability of additional funds. The Illinois Department of Transportation has yet to announce when it will begin the first construction phase.

Taking place in conjunction with the Prairie Parkway project will be the state’s widening of Route 47 from I-80 to Caton Farm Road. Sugar Grove officials, including Village President Sean Michels, want the widening to prevent future traffic congestion on this major thoroughfare.

Another planned road project designed to improve traffic flow through Sugar Grove will take place possibly as soon as this summer. The village project will extend Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard from Route 47 west to Route 30. The village received $3.5 million from the federal government for the project.

The road extensions are among projects identified in Sugar Grove’s Transportation Plan for future area transportation needs. Currently, there is no north-south collector road to the west of Illinois Route 47 within the Village. The extensions of Municipal Drive to Galena Boulevard will not only achieve traffic relief in the area but spur economic development within Sugar Grove, village officials said.

As part of the project, the village will extend water and sewer infrastructure along these roads to the site of the new Kaneland Middle School currently under construction on Harter Road.

Wastewater treatment
Elburn’s wastewater treatment plant on Thryselius Drive already is at capacity, village officials said. If Kirk Homes and Sho-Deen Inc. proceed with their developments, the town’s population of nearly 4,800 could triple, necessitating an expansion of the wasterwater treatment plant. The Village Board decided two years ago to require the developers to pay for the future project, which will double the plant’s wastewater capacity at a cost of $14 million. Kirk intends to build about 900 homes just west of Route 47 on the north and south sides of Route 38, and Sho-Deen is planning a 3,000-home development on the east side of Elburn, between Route 38 and Keslinger Road.

In Sugar Grove, the village has initiated a new in-house sanitary sewer preventative maintenance program to further Fox Metro’s work in treating wastewater in Sugar Grove so that it can safely be returned to the environment.