Elgin council backs bike route, dealer incentive
By Mike Danahey email@example.com @DanaheyECN on Twitter September 26, 2013 12:18AM
Updated: October 28, 2013 7:27AM
ELGIN — With two dissenting votes, the city council Wednesday moved along paying for the final engineering and construction of a bike route through Elgin’s northeast side.
And with one negative vote, the council also moved along annexing land for and an incentive deal for a Subaru dealership to come to Randall Road.
As for the bike route, “This is unnecessary, expensive and a luxury we don’t need,” Councilman Terry Gavin said. Gavin, along with Councilman John Prigge, cast the nay votes. Councilman Toby Shaw was away on a business related trip and absent from the Wednesday sessions.
Gavin said he also was concerned with liability issues the city could incur with having a marked bike lane, particularly along Congdon Avenue. Councilman Rich Dunne asked Elgin Corporation Counsel William Cogley how many times the city has been successfully sued with existing bicycling conditions in the city. Cogley said just once in 20 years and for a modest amount of money.
Cogley explained that under court rulings in Illinois, bike lanes on roads are held to a different level of maintenance by municipalities than the roads themselves are for cars — even though roads are not the intended use but an allowed use for bicycles.
Payback if not used
Councilwoman Anna Moeller noted that as this is a final phase of the project and grant money already has been used, the city would have to pay back about $100,000 if it would nix the project at this point.
The amount moved along for a final vote next month is $139,840 for agreements with the Illinois Department of Transportation and engineering firm TranSystems. A federal grant administered by IDOT would reimburse the city some of its expenditures, leaving the final cost to Elgin’s budget at $95,168. The money is to come from the city’s share of Grand Victoria casino money.
The route would begin at the city’s corporate limits on Congdon Avenue, continue west on that street, then turn south on Prospect Boulevard. At Slade Avenue, the route would head west to Douglas Avenue. At Douglas Avenue, the route would go south to where it joins bike lanes and routes in place downtown. At the eastern edge of town, the route would continue east to join existing and planned trails providing access to the Shoe Factory Road Woods and the Poplar Creek Forest Preserve. Planned connections ultimately would link the route to the Prairie Stone corporate park in Hoffman Estates and as far east as the Busse Woods Forest Preserve in Schaumburg.
“Cook County’s reconstruction of Congdon Avenue in 2007 included the construction of a multi-use trail along the north side of the street from Indian Drive east to the project limits in Hoffman Estates,” supporting material for the Wednesday committee of the whole meeting stated. “The city provided funding to Cook County for the construction of this multi-use trail in the amount of approximately $130,000.”
The grant terms require to city to construct dedicated bike lanes as a condition for the federal aid.
To that end, the council Wednesday also moved along approval for limiting parking on the west side of Prospect Street and the south side of Congdon Avenue where the route would hold those lanes.
The project came about after the city adopted the bikeway master plan in 2008. It sought and was awarded federal grants that year to construct the northeast route and another serving the southwest side of town, which has yet to come before the council for its design and engineering phase. That project is estimated to total $3 million, with the city contributing about $700,000 toward it. Primary engineering for this route was approved by the council in 2009 for $230,500, with the city responsible for 20 percent of that project cost, or $46,100.
The economic incentive agreement, with Brilliance Subaru of Elgin Inc., would waive building permit fees and rebate 25 percent of the sales tax revenue generated by the dealership over 10 years. The owners of Brilliance Honda of Crystal Lake were awarded a Subaru franchise earlier this year, contingent upon acquiring a site by the fall, and settled on a vacant parcel on the west side of Randall Road at Capital Street which is across the road from Advocate Sherman Hospital.
Brilliance will invest $6.8 million to purchase the parcel, construct the dealership and equip the facility. It would employ 60 to 75 people, with an annual payroll of $3.9 million to $4.5 million. New-vehicle sales are projected at $37.5 million to $45 million annually, with used car sales totaling $13.5 million to $18 million annually. Parts and other retail sales are estimated to generate $2.5 million to $3 million annually.
Brilliance intends to break ground on the dealership on Oct. 10 — the day after final legislative approval from the city council. Owners hope to be open by spring.
The lone no vote Wednesday was cast by Councilwoman Carol Rauschenberger, who said it is time for Elgin — and by inference, other municipalities — to draw a line in the sand and stop offering incentive packages to businesses. She also suggested city staff provide information tracking the economic outcomes of incentive deals from the last 20 years.
Gavin said the agreement on the table was not a giveaway and was “what is takes to get a deal done.” And while usually skeptical of incentives, Prigge said the Subaru package “makes a lot of sense.”