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2012: St. Charles Opens Bridge, Blocks Developments, Rebuilds Main

City government in St. Charles was an ongoing source of news over the past year.

Government is always a top news generator from year to year, and 2012 has been no different, from Washington, D.C., to Springfield, Ill., to St. Charles, Ill.

Nationally, it was the presidential and congressional elections, and the economic. Statewide, pension reform and government finances were among the hot-button issues of the past year.

In St. Charles, city government activity also drew what was sometimes intense scrutiny during 2012.

Two issues revolved around developers, another revolves around future development. Construction zones — particularly for the city’s Red Gate Bridge and continuing work by the state on Main Street/Route 64 — dominated the landscape for motorists throughout the year. City officials kept a wary eye on downtown liquor establishments throughout much of 2012, as well. Another key event was Mayor Donald DeWitte’s announcement that after nearly 20 years in p[public office, he would not seek re-election.

Corporate Reserve

The St. Charles City Council raised some eyebrows on Dec. 11 while meeting as its Planning and Development Committee. At that meeting, aldermen voted unanimously to recommend rejection of a developer’s request to add a residential component to the Corporate Reserve project. Neighbors had opposed the move, largely because of the proposal to add apartments to what originally had been approved as a business park. The developer ultimately withdrew its application, avoiding a formal City Council vote that would have prohibited the proposal’s reintroduction for at least a year.

Related:

  • Dec. 11, 2012: Corporate Reserve Falls in Unanimous Vote
  • Dec. 20, 2012: Corporate Reserve Developer Withdraws Application

Lexington Club

At the same meeting, aldermen voted 7-2 to recommend against a tax-increment financing that would have offset about $6 million in costs for the proposed $40 million to $45 million project. In this case, neighbors objected to the number of homes in the development and the resulting, but there were some who also were outspoken against the use of a TIF, fearing that it would add to the city’s debt liability.

The developer has asked the city for additional time to explore its options rather than face a formal City Council vote that could bar it from being considered again for a full year.

Related:

  • Dec. 11, 2012: Lexington Club Attorney Slams St. Charles Aldermen for Rejection

Comprehensive Plan

Another nail-biter for some residents this year was work on the 2013 draft Comprehensive Plan, which has been the subject of the meetings and public hearings conducted over the past 18 months by a special task force appointed to draw up the document.

Considered a guide for future development, the process of crafting the plan appeared to draw much public attention, including scrutiny by opponents of the Corporate Reserve and Lexington Club developments — and for largely the same reasons.

The task force worked on drafting the plan for 18 months before handing it off to the city in December. The next phase of the process includes review by the St. Charles Plan Commission, which is scheduled to take up the issue in January.

Related:

  • Dec. 13, 2012: Panel Ends Work on St. Charles Comprehensive Plan

DeWitte Won’t Seek Re-Election

After three terms as 3rd Ward alderman and two as mayor, Donald DeWitte announced that he would not seek re-election, citing the demands of a new professional position.

DeWitte presided over the ribbon-cutting for the Red Gate Bridge, a project which had been discussed for nearly a century before it became the largest public works infrastructure initiative in the city’s history. The bridge opening is among a list of accomplishments the mayor cites during his time on the council. His resignation sparked immediate speculation about who would succeed him. Four candidates have queued up on the ballot for the April 9 municipal election.

Related:

  • Aug. 31, 2012: Mayor DeWitte Won’t Seek Third Term

Red Gate Bridge

Dec. 15 marked a milestone for the Red Gate Bridge project, which at mid-month opened its two lanes to vehicle traffic, offering a new north-end Fox River crossing that proponents say will provide quicker response times for emergency services, unite the community and offer residents greater convenience in getting across town, and eventually draw traffic from the already congested Main Street Bridge in downtown St. Charles.

Related:

  • Dec. 16, 2012: Red Gate Bridge Opens on St. Charles’ North End

Main Street/Route 64: Road Work Ahead

The road reconstruction project on the city’s main east-west corridor is at a lull for now, with all lanes open except for periodic closures during the winter months. But, come spring, expect full-bore work to continue as the Illinois Department of Transportation begins the final phase of the $49 million project.

While the project is a state project, the city has head a substantive role in the endeavor, including keeping residents — and Main Street businesses — up to date on construction activities. Work is expected to resume in March and project completion is forecast in August 2013.

Related:

  • Dec. 14, 2012: Route 64 Work Gears Up for Traffic Pattern Shift
joe torre December 28, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I was wondering the reason for only making the bridge 2 lanes ?
Vanessa Bell-LaSota December 28, 2012 at 08:10 PM
In it's 2002 Record of Decision, the Fox River Bridge Authority voted in favor of Stearns as the next river crossing, abandoned Red Gate, so it was left to local government to adopt the project as a local 2-lane bridge, zoned only for light vehicles- with a modest amount of state grants,the balance of the 30+M project funded by municipal sourcing. Early arguements for the bridge reducing truck traffic had to change accordingly. STC taxpayers may or may not know the reason for the changes or the change in use.
Brian Townsend December 28, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I have never heard of the Fox River Bridge Authority. In 1992, a multi-jurisdictional task force working with then Congressman Dennis Hastert recommended that governmental agencies focus on Fox River bridges at 3 main locations - (1) a local bridge in downtown St. Charles at Prairie Street, (2) a sub-regional bridge at Red Gate Road, and (3) a regional bridge at Stearns Road. In July 1992, the City Council voted 8-2 to build a bridge at Prairie Street. The bridge was opened in May 1994. Kane County assumed responsibility for the Stearns Road bridge and completed it in 2010. The City of St. Charles took responsibility for the bridge at Red Gate Road and elected to construct it as a 2-lane facility serving primarily local transportation needs. The construction of the bridge will be funded with almost $14 million in federal and state funding, covering approximately 50% of the cost of the project - that's hardly what I would call "modest."
Sue Klinkhamer December 29, 2012 at 09:08 PM
The Red Gate bridge was always planned as being two lanes because it was/is only meant to be a "local" bridge. The Hastert group study was for all bridge crossings in the County, not just St. Charles. It was then determined that Stearns would first be built and once it was open the need for Red Gate would be revisited. The City then went ahead and funded the bridge on their own instead of waiting for the Stearns results. The bridge was ultimately funded with state and federal funds (though most of them were matching funds )and a local tax which was implemented years ago. It truly was many many years in the making. Now that Stearns and Red Gate have been built I am sure no one will even remember life without them!
Vanessa Bell-LaSota December 30, 2012 at 01:56 AM
I am referring to the 2001 document, "Fox River Bridge Crossing Record of Decision". In 1990, under the sponsorship of Congressman Dennis Hastert, the Fox River Bridge Advisory Committee -not "Authority" as I said, was formed, forgive me . This Committee incl reps from townships, municipalities and counties near the Fox River, the result of the recognition that the Fox River, with its ltd # of crossings, represented a major impediment to travel in an area that was rapidly developing and forecast. Working with the Chgo Area Transp Study (CATS) and public input, the Fox River Bridge Advisory Committee developed and evaluated a number of alternatives between IL Rte 62 in Algonquin and IL Rte 47 in Yorkville. Each corridor was evaluated for their effectiveness in addressing traffic congestion on roadways in the region. Out of over 20 corridor crossings evaluated, 9 were deemed potentially effective at addressing the regional traffic needs of Kane Co and were carried forward .

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