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St. Charles residents weigh in on downtown plans.
City updating downtown section of its 2013 Comprehensive Plan

ST. CHARLES – St. Charles resident Sharon O'Leary thinks replacing the existing dam in downtown St. Charles with whitewater and recreational channels, a recreational zipline above the Fox River and other improvements would be a great way to bring more people to the downtown.

"I think it would just be a great economic engine for the downtown and would get more people here to shop," said O'Leary, who also is senior broker at St. Charles-based Murray Commercial.

O'Leary and other St. Charles residents provided their feedback during an open house on April 24 in the City Council chambers at the Municipal Building in downtown St. Charles. The city is updating the vision laid out in the downtown section of its 2013 Comprehensive Plan.

The area being studied is north of Main Street between 2nd Avenue on the east and 4th Street on the west. Aldermen are studying a plan to replace the existing dam in downtown St. Charles with whitewater and recreational channels, install a recreational zipline above the Fox River and do other improvements along the Fox River as part of the Active River Project.

Residents also had the chance to weigh in on what should happen to the St. Charles police station along the Fox River after the department's new facility is expected to open later this year on the site of the former Valley Shopping Center on the city's west side.

O'Leary said she would prefer the land become part of the Active River Project.

"I think that naturally fits," she said. "So open space would be nice. But I know from an economic standpoint that it's probably not the most economically feasible. A multi-family residential condo would make sense as well."

Those who attended the open house were asked to rank what they would like to see in the downtown St. Charles study area – residential, commercial/mixed use, open space, streetscape and parking – as part of a visual preference survey.

St. Charles resident Steve Patzer, who has lived in St. Charles for 40 years, would also like see the police station site become open space.

"I would like to see lots of green grass," he said.

Patzer, who lives along the Fox River, voiced concerns about the cost of the Active River Project versus the benefits it would bring. According to a cost benefit analysis of the project, the present value of the combined capital and operating costs over a 25-year period is approximately $24 million and the present value of the economic impacts is approximately $24.5 million.

"I'm here to weigh what benefits this might bring to the town versus the cost of it all," Patzer said. "I just want to in my mind weigh the effort and the cost versus whatever economic plus it might bring. Because a lot of this is kind of being sold as a boon to our local economy. You have to weigh the cost versus what you get out of it."

St. Charles East High School senior Francis Locascio attended the open house for one of his classes. He is a supporter of the Active River Project.

"It has potential for a lot of good, but it's also very expensive," he said.

 

 

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