The Geneva Report – May 17, 2017

Worst reality show ever!

If any of y’all tuned into Monday’s Geneva city council meeting I’m sure you felt the same irresistible urge to gouge your eyes out that I did. I’d rather be forced to watch an episode of ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” at gunpoint, than go through that again.

The central theme of the get together was the impending St. Charles Prairie Winds 200+ apartment development coming in behind the Randall Road Lowes on Bricher Road. And 10 to 20 of my north Fisher Farms compatriots were on hand to protest the inevitable traffic complications.

Prairie Winds

The Prairie Winds Apartments

Though I have to say a great part of the off-the-rails meeting problem was that city attorney Chuck Radovich clearly shares my capacity to aggravate the crap out of people, but my saving grace is I do it on purpose. Chuck’s school marm mien and inability to effectively communicate with regular folks made the meeting last much longer and become much more contentious than it had to be.

In Mr. Radovich’s defense, there is no IQ test requirement to move into my fascinating subdivision.

Firmly believing the City was selling them short in regards to a 1990’s intergovernmental agreement, those Fisher Farmians spoke in the kind of anti-apartment circles that made Donald Trump’s Andrew Jackson soliloquy actually make sense.

Kudos to Fourth Ward Alderman Jim Radecki for coming the closest to saying what really needed to be said, which was this:

1. Intergovernmental agreements are generally boiler plate contracts that no one pays attention to because there’s nothing to pay attention to. I know this, because I saw and archived hundreds of ‘em during my tenure at the Kane County Clerk.

2. The reason these agreements are so basic and consistent is we can’t have municipal government playing tit-for-tat over developments on their borders. That would quickly descend into a Hatfield and McCoy-esque quagmire.

3. What those agitated Genevans were essentially asking was for those 1990’s city councils to have been prescient enough to predict that the great recession would lead to a retail collapse, the subprime mortgage fiasco would make mortgages tough to come by, and Millennials would have no interest in home ownership, all of which would make apartments much more attractive.

4. If those alderman could make those kinds of predictions, they’d be working for a federal think tank, not getting 300 bucks a month to listen to their constituents complain.

5. If retail went into that space, as it was originally zoned, the traffic problems would be ten times worse, so Fisher Farms actually dodged a bullet!

C’mon! If they had the power, don’t you think the City of Geneva and/or the city council would stop that development to avoid taking all this heat?


But it could’ve been different!

What those fine Fisher Farms denizens failed to understand is, while we couldn’t hold St. Charles hostage over some simple intergovernmental agreement housekeeping, we could’ve forced some major Prairie Winds changes if city administrators didn’t sign off on the traffic study.


Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns

You see, that very same intergovernmental agreement stipulates that, for any Bricher Road border project to move forward, St. Charles must provide Geneva with a professional traffic study, and Geneva must approve it.

But that traffic study never made it to the city council, and here’s why:

1. Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns didn’t trust that non-rubber stamp gaggle to do the “right thing.”

2. The Mayor does trust city staffers whose loyalty has been purchased through top-of-the-line salaries and benefits packages.

3. When the traffic study arrived last March, Burns was battling Tom Simonian in a mayoral death match and the last thing he wanted was something this contentious to come before the council.

So Burns told staff to take care of it and, since they don’t have a constituency to answer to, they did. To be fair, as a professional campaign manager, I would’ve have advised my client to avoid the potential mess by either putting St. Charles off or having staff take the heat.

But now, with that golden opportunity squarely in the rearview mirror, Geneva can do nothing but sit back and watch those buildings go up.


Burning bridges


Ray Rogina

If you did watch Monday’s city council meeting, you may have taken note of Mayor Burns’ brief summary of his terse Prairie Winds conversation with St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina.

“I did notice that Jeff! And I thought that, considering the benefits of intercity cooperation, suburban mayors would be a lot friendlier with each other.”

They generally are, but through his infamous inclination to unleash his ample ego, Mayor Burns has worn out his welcome with many Kane County elected officials. Any other Mayor might have had a shot with his St. Charles counterpart, but not this one.


A growth project

This is the Geneva school superintendent’s front lawn which hasn’t been touched since the summer of 2016 so it’s a foot high in spots. I’m looking forward to the mail order goats’ arrival because they’ll be a vast improvement over most of my neighbors.

Mutchler Lawn.jpg

9 thoughts on “The Geneva Report – May 17, 2017

  1. Geneva missed a good bet.
    The city should have rented a home in the city limits, moved Mary McKittrick into it, and had her run for mayor.

    She used to run Geneva’s government anyway.

  2. A “professional campaign manager?”

  3. Jeff
    You nailed this one. The IGA effectively took any power away from Geneva. The only thing available was make the best with St. Charles on additional access and right hand turn lanes. Making an access on Route 38 was a good idea but “the developer “didn’t want to because of cost. What most don’t know, and you pointed it out, is the City Council weren’t informed until after the city staff signed off on it. Burns does this all the time and the Council takes the heat.

    On this particular issue, some aldermen led residents to believe by coming to the meeting things would change. I believe some didn’t know about the IGA until the meeting.
    As usual, Burns and the city attorney were arrogant and double talked. As soon as the staff signed off, nothing could be done.

  4. Bob,

    Those Aldermen did make a mistake, but the fact that they were rookies was the problem. I don’t believe they had any ill intent.

    And like I said, I wouldn’t have wanted any candidate of mine to get enmeshed in that quagmire right before an election.

    The thing is, three months after they’re up, just like the jail, no one in Geneva will notice those apartments.


    • Jeff

      I also believe there was no ill will on the part of the aldermen. I think a strong candidate would address a quagmire like this head on. It shows leadership when you discuss the tough issues. This is one example of why so many aldermen did not support/endorse the current Mayor.

      I do believe that the traffic will be so congested that eventually an access on 38 will be needed.

      I guess my hope is that more residents will get involved and attend meetings. Since I have been working on informing the uninformed for 10 years, unfortunately I think the majority of people like to be uninformed. Unless of course it directly affects them. The Campana building & Geneva School District discussions will be interesting. Again, Geneva really has no power on this one.

    • Bob,

      Were I the mayor I would’ve simply put signing the traffic study off until after the election. No candidate would want to tempt the fates like that. That said, the mayor’s predilection to leave things to city staff would’ve likely won out anyway.

      As to Rt. 38 access, that will never happen unless that section of Rt. 38 in increased to four lanes. Whether it’s the State or the County, they know it will require a six figure traffic light at one of the busiest one lane sections of that road.

      The bottom line is that land was originally zoned for retail which would’ve made the traffic much worse. Thus, I’m convinced that some of those protests are about low class renters who “we don’t want in Geneva.”


  5. No one gives a care in Geneva if it doesn’t affect 3rd Street and downtown. But when more traffic is going through the downtown neighborhoods because people need to get to work those residents will show up screaming at the city to do something. Shame on you Geneva! I never thought after all the racquet they gave the Dr’s office next to Walgreen’s on Bricher that they would ever allow access to Bricher for these apartments. I sure as hell hope St. Charles will be plowing Bricher too…of course maybe they would actually plow it!

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