McHenry County College Board Discusses Leasing More Taxpayer-Owned Land

After kicking out the public, the McHenry County College Board listened to John Maguire propose using the institution’s public land for a television and FM radio broadcast tower.

How much land?

Hold your breath.

The figure I’ve heard is 38 acres!

Remember the college is buying the 67 acres between the current campus and Ridgefield Road, identified as the Gilger property, for $67,000 per acre. The college owns 112 acres now.

The Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended allowing the college to cover 50% of its entire site (including the Gilger property) with impervious surfaces. If approved, the tower and guy wires would seem to occupy a substantial part–about 40%–of the required open space. The city council is due to consider that recommendation next Tuesday.

Maybe MCC could built a track underneath the guy wires, but the massive FM radio/TV booster tower would seem to seriously compromise the use of the land on which it would stand.

If I am on the right track, this would be the second lease that the board has considered without public input.

A year ago, the board was well on the way to agreeing to lease part of its current property to baseball promoter Pete Heitman for a stadium without even finding out who would financially benefit, not to mention not giving the Harvard college league baseball stadium promoters a chance to even make a board presentation.

Then, to add insult to injury, the board voted to give baseball promoter Heitman’s buddy Mark Houser of EquityOne a second no-bid contract and Houser’s choices for various parts of the baseball stadium and Health, Wellness, Athletic Complex (HWAC) construction project.

Presumably representing a company identified as “BMB,” Thursday night Maguire made a power point presentation which McHenry County Blog photographer managed to captured with two non-flash photos before visual access was denied by the placement of

  • first, a coat rack and,
  • then, the American flag

in front of windows to the hall through which the slides could be seen being projected on large television screens.

The introductory slide said,

Broadcast Tower Proposal

Crystal Lake, IL

After I took that photo, Trustee Barbara Walters stood up and help a document in front of the screen.

Then the screen in the southwest corner of the board’s meeting room went blank.

I walked around to the vertical windows on the southwest corner of the room behind the now-non-functioning screen so I could see the other screen.

While standing at the window, I took a picture of the second partial slide you see below.

It says,


…the construction of eleven towers from the date of the…
of the company in 2003.

…the highlights of BMB’s portfolio:

Tower was built for two FM broadcast stations at close to…
…with a 12′ X 20′ transmitter building…
…at the site.
This tower was built for…
tower 6,000′. BMB was…
where in the county…
tower was built near…

You will also see the head of MCC President Walt Packard moving toward the window, blocking the right side of the slide.

First, Packard used his body to shield the slides from view.

Then, using the American Flag that stood behind the college board members, Packard proceeded to block visual access on a permanent basis.

I have to admit to thinking that was ironic.

So I moved over to the other vertical window.

I took a series of non- flash photos of Maguire making his presentation. Regrettably, the one you see is the most focused. It shows Maguire looking directly at me while I was taking his picture.

Walters again stood up, this time in front of the window. You can see attorney Tom Zanck sitting in the audience.

The next thing I saw was opaque plastic film being applied to the window from the inside by new Freedom of Information Officer Pat Kriegermeir.

More irony.

Kriegermeir types virtually verbatim notes of what is said at the meetings.

This is the second time that Maguire and team have appeared in a secret meeting.

Last time Trustees Scott Summers and George Lowe seemed to point to land south of the current and proposed property, a picture of which you can see at the top of the page. It was taken the meeting before the board decided to ban flash photography.

If there is an attempt to build a system of towers, as there was by cellular phone companies in the 1990’s, a big circle is drawn on a map to identify potential sites. Depending on how big the targeted area is, other nearby landowners might be possibilities.

Based on the giveaway deal cut with the minor league baseball team, it would not be absurd to assume that BMB thinks the college would not be as aggressive in negotiating a leasing price than nearby private property owners.

38 acres is a lot of land in the pricey Crystal Lake market.

The meeting ended after midnight.

Of course, there is undoubtedly more to this story than I know or surmise. Maybe this possible partnership–that’s the word that MCC Board President George Lowe used generally again before the secret meeting–will entirely pay for the HWAC.

If that’s so, perhaps someone could enlighten me why we in the unwashed public were prohibited from hearing the proposal and the board’s questions and discussion.

Or, maybe this McHenry County Blog article will prompt a quick unloading to the Northwest Herald of whatever favorable arguments can be made.

That’s what happened the day after McHenry County Blog revealed that MCC was planning to build a baseball stadium.

Tomorrow – An article entitled, “MCC – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.”

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