Crystal Lake Council Tells Metra OK for Ridgefield Station…IF

And the “IF” was in capital letters.

Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano and Joseph Gottemoller, attorney for Metra, appear before the Crystal Lake City Council seeking permission to proceed with annexation of the land for a Ridgefield commuter station.

Metra Executive Director Phil Pagano returned to his home town city council for a second time seeking permission to proceed with plans seeking approval for a new commuter train station in Ridgefield next to the old 84 and new Alexandra Lumber location.

The proposal debated by city council members basically said that if Metra met all the requirements set by the city council that it could gain annexation to the city.

Mayor Aaron Shepley framed the debate like this:

“The question is solely whether council wishes to assume control of development of this project.”

At the end of the debate, the council voted 5-2 to assume control. Jeff Thorsen and Ralph Dawson voted “No.”

Jeff Thorsen registered his complaint about what he saw as the one-sided nature of the agreement.

Thorsen thought the agreement too one-sided.

“The agreement does not even require they ever annex,” he said. “At the end of the day, we can’t say ‘No.’ You can say ‘No.’”

He worried that if money is needed to enforce Crystal Lake’s Watershed Ordinance that Metra would not have to pay its fair share.

Shepley wondered if Thorsen wanted county government to be the approving governmental entity, as it was for 84 Lumber, which property covers more of the watershed than would be allowed had it been annexed to Crystal Lake.

“If the county wants to be irresponsible about developing it, then it’s not on my shoulders,” Thorsen replied.

Later Councilwoman Ellen Brady Mueller pointed out that the proposed 2030 Plan for county land development does not recognize Crystal Lake’s Watershed Ordinance.

Ralph Dawson views a Ridgefield Metra Station in Crystal Lake as a way to stretch city police forces too thin.

Ralph Dawson worried about extending city police protection still farther, pointing out that the Pingree Road Station had had vandalism problems, which Crystal Lake Police had to handle.

“It’s a far stretch from the city limits,” Dawson said. “I cannot support the City of Crystal Lake annexing the station. I don’t think the city should be obligated to go that far out to give it service.”

Trying to pour water on the fire, Pagano affirmed, “Metra intends to work with the city on the watershed…and traffic.”

Still Dawson concluded,

“I don’t see my taxpayers to benefit on this project.”

Brady Mueller asked,

“Are we out there already?”

Police Chief David Lindner pointed out that his force already served nearby McHenry County College and

“If there is a request from the Sheriff and we’re closer, we go out there.”

Ellen Brady Mueller argued for the city council's having control over how the Metra station would be developed.

Ellen Brady Mueller argued for city control of the Crystal Lake watershed on which the proposed Metra station would be located.

Brady Mueller wanted to know,

“Why in the world would we want to give up a piece of property in the watershed?”

“We want to have the control.”

Cathy Ferguson agreed:

“I want control. I have enormous traffic concerns.”

Both relative newcomers Brett Hopkins and Carolyn Schofield concurred.

“I’d absolutely like to see it under control of the city, rather than the county,” Schofield said.

Summing up, Shepley said,

"If we say, 'No', we're counting on somebody else to do our job," Mayor Aaron Shepley said.

“We have fought like wolverines to control what goes on in the watershed. It’s not just our right; it’s our obligation.

“There is no done deal. Mr. Hopkins said it. The only question is who should we be dealing with.

“The downside for them is if they don’t meet our standards, they still have to go to the county.

“As far as police enforcement goes, Mr. Dawson, I think that is a fair concern. If it should go to the county we’ll still be the first responders.

“The difference is that the benefits will not fall to the Crystal Lake side of the ledger.

“If we say ,’No,’ we’re counting on somebody else to do our job.”

Dawson suggested the county was “in a new era. They’re talking about water, at least they’re making waves in an election year.”

“If the county is good, we’re better,” Shepley stated. “We owe it to the people to protect their interest.”


Crystal Lake Council Tells Metra OK for Ridgefield Station…IF — 2 Comments

  1. Will this result in additional annexation of other land/properties in the future? Does the mayor have his eyes on future development whenever the economy recovers? Development is one way of remedying structural problems, but the impact fees/concessions need to be appropriate up front. I think I’m on the side of Thorsen and Dawson on this one.

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