Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Crystal Lake, Ill., annexation deal paves way for Metra stop

Written by 

Crystal Lake, Ill., officials have approved a pre-annexation agreement for a 17-acre site, where Metra plans to build a commuter train stop, the Chicago Tribune reports. The station, between the Woodstock and Crystal Lake stations, would cost an estimated $5 million and take four years to open, Metra officials say. It is part of a planned expansion to the Union Pacific Northwest line.

The $1.5-million site would be at Country Club Road and Prairie Drive in unincorporated McHenry County near Ridgefield.

City Councilmen Ralph Dawson and Jeff Thorsen recently voted against the annexation agreement, arguing Metra could drop its request, which means it wouldn't have to adhere to the city's watershed ordinance.

"We earned only an illusion of control over this project," Thorsen said.

The property is owned by a trust that includes County Board Chairman Ken Koehler as a beneficiary. Koehler said that if Metra had decided to build under the county's jurisdiction, it wouldn't be compelled to appear before the County Board to ask permission. Instead, Metra chose to develop in Crystal Lake, where it would receive more public scrutiny, he said. Earlier, Metra board members expressed little reservation about Koehler's involvement in the deal and voted 9-1 to approve the purchase.

The proposed Ridgefield station is a little more than three miles northwest of the station in downtown Crystal Lake.

Thorsen said he favored building closer to McHenry Community College. He said the current plans place it about a mile from campus. The college already owns land that abuts the train tracks.

"A train stop at the college is a good idea," said George Lowe, chairman of the MCC board of trustees. "But we don't buy land to give to Metra. We paid a lot of money for engineering so we could build on the watershed."

blog comments powered by Disqus