Elgin fireworks are back on the table, electric stations a go
By Janelle Walker For Sun-Times Media January 23, 2014 9:56AM
Elgin wil have it own Indepdendence Day fireworks display again this year, after the City Council voted 7-2 Wedneday night to approve a plan by the Grand Victoria Casino to sponsor a concert and fireworks. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: February 25, 2014 6:20AM
ELGIN — The Grand Victoria Casino might be interested in partnering with the city to provide Fourth of July fireworks this summer, according to City Manager Sean Stegall.
However, without a specific proposal and plans in place, the city council Wednesday night voted to table any decision on bringing fireworks back to Elgin for now.
Elgin has not hosted fireworks in the community since 2008 following budget cutbacks and problems with the old location at the Elgin Sports Complex and Elgin Community College.
For the past two years, Elgin contributed toward the Northwest Fourth Fest on the Sears Centre grounds in Hoffman Estates, just east of Elgin. In December, on a 5-4 vote, the council nixed contributing for a third year there.
However, downtown might be a workable location for the fireworks, Stegall said.
Hosting fireworks in downtown Elgin could be done for about $67,000, Stegall said. After the Grand Victoria management read in the newspaper about the possibility of downtown fireworks, the casino offered to split the cost.
The casino offered to cover the cost of fireworks if the city covered labor costs, Stegall said.
But which musical act might play at the downtown park, what time the fireworks would start, and how the city would deal with parking and other traffic issues are still unknown, council members said.
Council members John Prigge said he doesn’t believe Elgin should spend money on fireworks at all, but instead encourage residents to attend the Hoffman Estates fireworks show for free.
Council members Anna Moeller and Tish Powell spoke in favor of moving the fireworks downtown, and possibly partnering with the riverboat to do so.
“We have festivals all of the time” and staff to manage traffic and parking downtown, Moeller said. “We had fireworks for decades — and now, for some reason, Elgin doesn’t deserve to have its own show?”
Encouraging Elgin residents to go to Hoffman Estates instead of their own downtown “is ridiculous,” she added.
Until details could be worked out, however, the council voted 7-2 to table any decision on fireworks, with Prigge and Terry Gavin casting the dissenting votes.
The two councilmen also were the dissenting votes on a move to add one additional electric vehicle charging station in downtown Elgin.
Instead of a single charging unit, as the city now has in The Centre parking deck, the new charging unit would allow two cars to charge, and record how often the unit is used and by whom.
The new electric car charger also would charge the user for the electricity — about $1 an hour, said Aaron Cosentino, management analyst for the city.
Two entities — the Elgin Climate Change Organization and Judson University — have promised to underwrite a portion of the cost, Cosentino said.
The dual charger at the single location will cost about the same as a single charger would have at three locations — including the Fulton and Spring street parking decks — but comes with the additional tracking features.