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ECC OKs purchase of former golf course land from Elgin

Updated: March 22, 2013 10:28AM

ELGIN — It’s something that has been “on the college’s mind for a while,” according to Sharon Konny, vice president of business and finance at Elgin Community College.

And finally on Wednesday, the ECC board approved the $8 million purchase from the city of Elgin of more than 41 acres adjacent to its campus at 1700 Spartan Drive.

That land — along McLean Boulevard, east of Spartan Drive — had been the Spartan Meadows Golf Course, largely abandoned by the city not long after it opened the Highlands of Elgin course in 2009 on the other side of McLean, Konny said.

“It is right there. It is adjacent to property we already own,” she said. “There are no immediate plans, but we’re looking at this as the future of the college.”

Elgin Community College took ownership of a small piece on the east side of that property nearly three years ago, part of a land swap with the city in exchange for the college’s Fountain Square Campus, she said. The site of what had been the downtown Elgin campus now is the city’s Artspace artists colony.

The rest of the former golf course property includes 19.7 acres touching McLean that the college plans to have zoned commercially, similar to the nearby Colonial Café, said John Early, outside general counsel to the college. That’s not because “the college wants to get into that business, but if something doesn’t work out,” Early said.

It also includes 22.1 acres between that piece and the land the college got in its swap with the city, which the college plans to have zoned for “typical campus use,” he said.

The city now must approve that zoning, and the community college must complete its due diligence, including some environmental tests on the land, Konny said. But the community college likely will take ownership of the property by the end of June, she said.

The purchase of the rest of the former golf course property comes not long after ECC trustees approved the purchase of property in the village of Burlington for a Public Safety and Sustainability Center, the last of ECC’s Facilities Master Plan projects.

And the money for the purchase will come from the same 2009 referendum that funded those projects, according to Konny. The last $48 million in bonds from that referendum will come before the board for approval next month at its regular meeting, she said.

Trustee Robert Getz said the city of Elgin “kind of let that property go,” and he “would hope” the college will maintain this part of the former golf course property as well as it has the small piece it already owns.

College President David Sam said there has been some talk that it could be used by botany students. Whatever its ultimate use, he said, it will be “for educational purposes or something very respectable.”

The unanimous vote came after 20 minutes of closed session and some discussion by the board. Trustees John Duffy and Ellie MacKinney were absent from the special meeting late Wednesday morning.

Getz said before the vote he hopes the college will “open this discussion up to the community to get ideas from the people who contribute to Elgin Community College.”

“We should get ideas from Bartlett and St. Charles. All of our community should tell us what they’d like to see this property used for in our next Master Plan.”

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