Tag Archives: Tom Rickert

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 businessman sues County Board chairman

by Keith Beebe
KANE COUNTY—An Elburn resident filed an injunction against Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay regarding pay raises given out to county officials.

James MacRunnels, an Elburn businessman and Kane County Board chairman candidate in 2008, filed the injunction on Dec. 14. The lawsuit alleges that McConnaughay, throughout her tenure as County Board chairman, has provided pay raises to 14 county officials and employees without seeking approval from either the Executive Committee or County Board.

The lawsuit identifies IT Executive Director Roger Fahnestock, former Development Department Director Phil Bus, HR Management Executive Director Shelia McCraven, Finance Executive Director Cheryl Patelli, Health Department Executive Director Paul Keuhnert, Deputy Director of Transportation Tom Rickert, Supervisor of Assessments Mark Armstrong, former Economic Development Director Chris Aiston, Facilities, Subdivision and Environmental Resources Director Tim Harbaugh, Family Health Division Director Theresa Heaton, Water Resources Director Paul Schuch, Network Services Director Robert Shive, IT Chief Financial Officer Bill Lake and Community Health Assistant Director Michael Isaacson as the officials who have been given pay raises or had their salary established by McConnaughay without Executive Committee or County Board compliance.

“I would like (Karen McConnaughay) to admit that she violated county statutes by giving out these pay raises,” MacRunnels said. “I asked my County Board member if he was aware of these raises, and he was not aware (of it). At that point in time, I said the only action I have as a citizen is to get involved and file the suit against her.”

MacRunnels said he believes McConnaughay should have to admit to newspapers and all 90,000 households in Kane County that she gave out unauthorized pay raises.

“That’s punishment enough, but she needs to step up and do that,” he said.

The lawsuit cites a Kane County code that establishes the Executive Committee’s jurisdiction over all matters pertaining to the compensation of all members of the County Board, the rules of order of the County Board, fees, salaries, clerk-hiring for and in all departments of the county, and the amount of the salary and per diem compensation of all county officers not otherwise set by law.

“MacRunnels is talking about a county code where the Executive Committee sets the salaries for the executive directors,” McConnaughay said. “Back in the early ’90s, the Executive Committee delegated that responsibility to the employee’s review, and the setting of salaries to the County Board chairman and to the respective committee chair.”

McConnaughay also said she doesn’t think the lawsuit has any merit.

“The state’s attorney will represent the chairman’s interest in this (matter),” she said.

Money sought for $30 million road extension, overpass construction

County asks state, federal government for funding
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—Kane County transportation officials want the Anderson Road extension and railway overpass project built in 2011 and 2012 but cannot meet that goal unless funding for the $30 million construction project becomes available.

“We currently do not have funding to build the roadway,” said Tom Rickert, Kane County Department of Transportation (KDOT) director.

Rickert updated Elburn officials on the status of the Anderson Road project during Monday’s Village Board meeting.

KDOT officials have been negotiating with Sho-Deen Inc. about purchasing the right of way for the road extension, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said. Sho-Deen owns the property and plans a business and residential development along the proposed extended roadway, between Route 38 to Keslinger Road.

The project remains a priority for the county, KDOT official Paul Holcomb said.

“It will allow for better emergency (vehicle) response and more opportunities for roadway connectivity,” Rickert said.

The county already has spent $2.8 million for engineering and feasibility studies, and will spend $1.4 million on additional engineering required before it can purchase the right of way.

The county received federal funding to help pay for those planning expenses. Rickert said the county has asked for construction funding from the next federal transportation bill. Also, Rickert said the county continues to request money for the project from the state.

The Council of Mayors has allocated $2.5 million for the Anderson Road project, Rickert said.

Some funding could come from local impact fees, although that source would depend upon the revival of development in Elburn, he said.

“Typically, with a federal project, we see the county, the village, the state and the developer trying to address some of the funding needs,” Rickert said.