Finance Committee Chairman Marc Munaretto began the debate over whether to provide the developers of the McHenry County SportsPlex three more months to round up people to loan them money.
Mary McCann took up the cause of those living off Hamilton Road, one maintained by township government.
Kathy Bergan Schmidt commented on traffic congestion.
“The only real major change is that they’ll (fix the intersection).
“That’s not going to cut it,” the Democrat said.
She said she had looked at the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Five-Year Plan. “Within the next five years, the only think…is to resurface.”
“Given the state of the Illinois economy or lack thereof,” she wasn’t so sure even the resurfacing would occur.
She asserted that it was “time we brought the infrastructure first.”
She also pointed out that the SportsPlex’ promise of jobs talked in terms of Full-Time Equivalents.
“FTE’s don’t mean full-time jobs,” she observed.
Gaining the floor, Munaretto explained that Lakewood is “working as well as it’s able to accommodate the residents.
He pointed out that failure would mean “the loss of Recovery Fund bonds in McHenry County.”
Munaretto then dropped this tidbit:
“The EB-5 funding program seems to be fully subscribed.”
“If we don’t extend, it doesn’t mean this project is going away. It just means it will start a year or two later when the EB-5 (financing kicks in).”
Wonder Lake’s John Hammerand, also a member of the Finance Committee said that the County Board wasn’t “showing good faith.”
The SportsPlex developers didn’t live up to their side of the agreement.
“Now, they’re here begging for an extension. The reason we’re here is that they didn’t sell the bonds.”
Finance Committee member Tina Hill, in whose District 5 the SportsPlex will be located, implied that the contract did not say “on this date we will withdraw.”
She tried to explain away the conflict as a “difference of agreement.”
“The audience has heard of bureaucratic double talk?” Hammerand interjected.
The SportsPlex resolution before the County Board contained the following language:
“ WHEREAS, Section 3 of Resolution R-201004-12-093 (passed April 20, 2010) did state that the Bonds must close no later than September 30, 2010 and in the event the Bonds did not close by September 30, 2010 the Allocation shall expire and revert back to the County…”
“We put a date in these agreements for a specific reason,” Ersel Schuster said. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know a date certain.”
Speaking to the merits of the project, she contented,
“This would be an absolute gridlock for the region.”
“I lived on Route 47 in the 1960’s. It was supposed to be widened to four lanes. It’s fifty years later.”
She spoke of the “insatiable appetite” that municipalities have for “grabbing and grabbing” and leaving “the rest of us picking up the bill for it.
“I take great offense that we made the “Summertime Blues” list (see Lakewood’s SportsPlex Makes “Summertime Blues” Critique of Pork), a screwball list.
Schuster moved that consideration be postponed until the next County Board meeting, but her motion was defeated in a voice vote.
District 5’s Paula Yensen, a Democrat, announced she was changing her vote from “Yes” to “No.”
She express two concerns:
- “a lot of questions being left unanswered as far as viability goes”
- “the 47 corridor and whether the volume can take that kind of vehicle capacity”
“In my district, District 5, people are having a difficult time making their mortgage payments.”
She added that while Crystal Lake, Huntley and Woodstock might have vacant ball fields, in the “Village of Lake in the Hills we’re over capacity.”
The SportsPlex gained enthusiastic support from Crystal Lake’s Barb Wheeler.
First, however, she mused over the conflict between a fear of traffic and the desire for more jobs.
She told of her family’s spending time at the Schaumburg Soccer Fest and having worked with EquityOne to get the multi-use facility built. She bought gas there and ate meals, improving the local economy.
“McHenry County is a great family neighborhood. When it comes to practice time, we can’t find a time in Barrington or Ridgefield.”
“Environmentally, this is going to be a fantastic facility.”
“This is a private facility,” someone from the audience interj
“Excuse me, you’re done,” McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler said.
Munaretto defended free enterprise.
“This is still America.”
Right after Munaretto’s defense of private enterprise, Ersel Schuster said,
“It’s being sold as something for the community and it is not. It is private.”
Then Tina Hill spoke.
“I assume it will cost me some votes in the next election,” she said as she sat before about 100 of her constituents, all of voting age.
She said she was going “to vote my conscience.”
When the vote was held it passed 15-8.
The eight voting “No” on the SportsPlex question were Yvonne Barnes, Randy Donley, John Hammerand, Jim Heisler, Mary McCann, Kathy Bergan Schmidt, Ersel Schuster, Paula Yensen (in whose district the project sits).
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