The heavy hitters from McHenry County College were at Crystal Lake city hall Wednesday night to make final pitches for their beloved minor league baseball stadium.
They failed to convince even one member of the Planning and Zoning Commission to join their team.
On a motion make by Jim Batastini not a single one of the commission members voted to approve the proposal to put a baseball stadium on Crystal Lake’s watershed.
Now it is up to the city council, where I am told that a super majority vote will be required for approval.
That means 5 votes, instead of 4.
It is blatantly obvious that Mayor Aaron Shepley favors the baseball stadium.
After all, the idea and the promoters’ names came from his city manager.
MCC attorney Sandy Kerrick kept repeating that the college had been working with city staff for 2½ years.
Strange that the public didn’t learn about the baseball stadium until McHenry County Blog published its first story on March 12th.
The college folks would have kept it secret longer had not that article run, but rushed to get a front page article in the Northwest Herald with a more positive spin the very next day.
Suffice is to say that the college board has been super-secretive in trying to bulldoze this project onto Crystal Lake’s fragile watershed.
Kerrick tried the same tactic she used in her first appearance before the commission:
Play ball or will expand MCC somewhere else.
“The trustees of the college cannot use public money to buy Mr. Gilbert’s land if we (can’t build on it),” she said in her closing comments.
“We have to know from the city what it is willing (to allow).”
There were multiple comments concerning how traffic was out of control in Crystal Lake.
Patrick Engineering’s Jarrod Cebulski did his best to convince the commission that traffic would be better most of the time with the $1.5 million in college-financed traffic improvements.
Maybe the college was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Clearly many commissioners thought traffic congestion was a big deal.
Incredible as it seems, Kerrick suggested that folks wanting to get from Algonquin to Woodstock would take Algonquin Road west to Huntley and, then, take Route 47 north, rather than taking the more direct Route 14.
So, it’s off the city council.
Five votes will be needed to pass it.
Three votes to kill the proposal.
I saw two councilmen in the audience last night—Ralph Dawson and Brett Hopkins. Hopkins served on Planning and Zoning before his election this past spring.
Ellen Brady Mueller has attended many of the meetings concerning the watershed.
Two members of Planning and Zoning ran for city council last time and lost. They are Jim Batastini, who made the motion to deny the zoning, and engineer Carolyn Schofield. Member Angel Collins ran for the park board.
All were appointed to the commission by Mayor Shepley.
Any or all of the three former candidates could run for city council in 2009.
It is conceivable that incumbent councilmen who might be up for re-election in 2009 would take the possible candidacies of commission members into consideration when deciding whether to be one of the five necessary votes.
The terms of Dave Goss, Jeff Thorsen and Ralph Dawson are up in 2009.
From the support for college expansion expressed by virtually every member of the commission, I’d venture the guess that making the proposal without the baseball stadium would receive a much more favorable response.
After the vote the college folks talked a bit first in the hall, then, caucused in the parking lot. You can see this part of the meeting was completed by 9:20.
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Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jim Batastini is in the top picture. MCC President Walt Packard and college lawyer Sandy Kerrick are seen sitting at the petitioners’ table. Next is commissioner Angel Collins asking a question. Middle right is traffic engineer Jarrod Cebulski. Below left is commissioner Carolyn Schofield.
Twenty-year resident James Jouron, Jeff Greenman, Attorney John Cowlin and Commission Chairman Tom Hayden are in the next photograph. Below to the right is Commissioner Vincent Esposito. To his left is Commissioner Allan Skluzacek.
Below in the hall is EquityOne’s Mark Houser, the construction consultant, conferring with MCC trustee Donna Kurtz. I recognize Packard and MCC trustee George Lowe facing the doors in the hall.
All images may be enlarged by clicking on them.