Lakewood Village Trustee Gives View of SportsPlex Meeting

The main SportsPlex building.

Below is the emailed letter that Lakewood Village Trustee Ken Santowski sent concerning Tuesday’s meeting which resulted in the approval of annexation of additional property to the village, plus economic incentives to the McHenry County SportsPlex.

The SportsPlex is probably the biggest building project other than schools and hospital additions that have been seen in years.

I find the following conclusion of interest:

“…the village would only lose face if the project fails…”


The western part of the SportsPlex will affect unincoroporated neighbors the most. Click to enlarge.

As you may have seen in the newspaper this meeting of 07/27/10 was devoted entirely to the SportsPlex.

Several key “things” had to happen before the MCS (McHenry County SportsPlex) could go forward in Lakewood.

There was a planning and zoning hearing to recommend annexing some other properties into the village so some infrastructure changes could be made. Those changes were presented as something good for the complex and those changes would only enhance the potential benefits of the complex to its neighbors and residents of Lakewood.

Over the previous couple of days I received a couple of calls (3 to be exact) from residents NOT living in Lakewood expressing their desire to have me vote against the MCS.

At first I was leery of their phone calls, but after listening to them I determined that some of their reasons for wanting to reject the complex were legitimate.

The #1 reason that I ascertained from those calls was that the complex would encroach upon their lives and severely impact their quiet existence.

Also that the MCS people had not contacted most of the non-Lakewood residents about how the complex would affect them.

Since I am not a member of the plan and zoning board, I sat in the audience like everyone else.

There were  many consultants and experts ready to speak on behalf of the project. The presentation went well.

Members of the audience were allowed to cross-examine those experts, voice concerns and eventually give their opinion’s. Several key objections were raised during this first meeting. All were dignified and sincere.

The village board meeting started after a short 15 minute break.

Once again the experts presented their case, members of the audience were allowed to cross-examine them, ask questions and give opinion’s.

While some pleas against the complex were based on the simple desire to ward off progress, again many major concerns were raised.

Ken Santowski

From my viewpoint it appeared that the complex has 3 major hurdles.

  • Completion of studies showing the feasibility of the potential success of the project based on other similar projects;
  • water and sewer supply and discharge, and
  • traffic.

It appeared that several members of the audience had found a way to get under the skin of a couple of consultants. The consultants did not have the answers to questions, either because their study was not complete or their study did not encompass the residents questions.

The ability to have water and sewer on site seemed to be a rather large issue.

As of last night, the complex did not have a clear answer as to who and how water and sewer were being brought to the site. The other part of the question was as to the financial aspects of paying for that water and sewer rights.

Extensive traffic studies were done regarding the complex.

Unfortunately the traffic study did not include areas to the far west and far south side of the complex. It was in the engineers  opinion that those areas did not need to be studied since the current amount of flow through traffic represented only a very small % of the potential traffic survey.

I agree with those residents who raised these concerns. While the project looks good and seems to be a viable addition to the village, I had hoped that the MCS people had been more “neighborhood friendly” especially with those who do not live in Lakewood, but will have

  • ball fields,
  • parking lots and
  • other “structures”

Jack Porter

outside their windows and across the street.

During the meeting, I asked Jack Porter to make sure that he  does in fact talk to every single person directly affected by this potential development.

He said he would try.

Though these objections were raised it was not enough to dissuade the board (or myself) from stalling this project.

There are many larger and more legally challenging concerns that need to be taken care of by the developers before this project can move even on handful of dirt.

It was my belief that the business model they would be presenting to potential investors would be the stumbling block they most need to be aware of.

I felt that my giving them a “yes” vote it would be up to them to complete and answer those residential and non residential concerns and objections.

This project is far from being a done deal.

Many more meetings, plans, details, discussions (and Votes) will be needed before the first construction vehicle shows up.

Since their is no liability against the village if the project fails, I felt it best to let them proceed.

While we are making some concessions, deals, grant writing and revenue sharing the village would only lose face if the project fails.

While we are waiving a potential significant amount of fees, we would have done the same for any potential developer within the village’s limits.

Staff has spent time (a lot of time) researching the ways and means to accomplish the agreements made in the shortest period of time. While it is true that I have not been a huge supporter of certain staff members, I have to believe their efforts are put forth with the best of intentions.

I like the look and feel of this complex.

It meets all of the criteria that most towns would love to impose upon a development, but would not take the risk of asking.

Do I believe this complex will be successful?

Here's a representation of the restaurant with the ball player motif seen previously.

It matters what you(r) level of success is at.

I do not think they will be able to obtain the eventual number of visitors each day/year without having serious growth pains and complaints.

However, if they only meet their number by 50% I believe the project could be sustainable long enough to ride out the horrendous economy, and still appease those who live nearby and those who would use the complex.

After the meeting ending I expressed my concerns of the developer being a “good neighbor” to ALL of our neighbors; even if they do not live here.

I explained to him that I would be checking with each and every property owner in the area to make sure he (Jack Porter) or his staff talks to them.

He seemed to take me seriously.

I shall keep my eyes, ears and mind open for ANY news, developments or even rumors regarding this complex.

Kenneth M Santowski

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