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UPDATE: Donahue Says Death of 'Ravinia' Plan Is Greatly Exaggerated

One big part of the Settler's Hill redevelopment mega-plan Mike Donahue shows the Geneva City Council on April 16 appears to be a dead issue as of April 23. But Donahue says "not so fast."

The plans were big, bold, beautiful and put together in painstaking detail.

Now one media source says it looks like it's back to the drawing board for Mike Donahue and other members of the Kane County Board task force who had proposed a Ravinia-style campus on the Fabyan Forest Preserve property at the northeast corner of Route 25 and Fabyan Parkway.

The Daily Herald is reporting that the Ravinia-music-venue plans "died" after members of the Kane County Board listened to comments from audience members opposed to the plan Monday night.

But Donahue, the District 11 County Board member from Geneva and the head of a task force charged with looking at future uses for the 700-acre site that includes the former Settler's Hill and Midway landfills, says not-so-fast, please.

"No formal action has been taken to revise the plan," Donahue said by e-mail Tuesday. "Our task force will be meeting on May 8 to consider revisions to the plan, which will very likely result in the concert venue being relocated to the east side behind the Striker’s soccer facility.

"So in that sense the article’s statements are more or less a prediction of what is likely to occur; except the venue size need not become smaller, as suggested," he said. "We can accommodate 8,000 to 12,000 at the east side location if there is a market for that."

The mega-plans for Settler's Hill also include the former Kane County Jail site along Fabyan Parkway and—until Monday night, at least—the portion of the Fabyan Forest Preserve east of Route 25.

Donahue and land planner Chris Lannert had on the plans at a Geneva City Council meeting on April 16.

“This needs to be self-supporting," Donahue said at the April 16 City Council meeting. "This would not be something supported by local property tax levies.”

The concerns expressed Monday night were that too many trees would have to be removed from the forest preserve to make room for the parking necessary for the Ravinia-style music venue, the DH story said. 

The other components of the plan appear to be still in play. They include:

  • An executive golf course and driving range, in partnership with the "First Tee" program for young golfers.
  • A mountain biking course.
  • A potential restaurant site.
  • A potential hotel resort and convention center on the jail site.
  • A potential medical and rehabilitation center.
  • A small events stage (near Fifth Third Bank Ballpark)
  • A fishing pond / skating pond.
  • An interior roads system.
  • A hilltop endurance trail.
  • Sled hills.
  • Cross country course for 1K, 3K, 5K and 10K races, capable of hosting high school and NCAA events.
  • An overlook observatory.

"You can see for miles," Lannert said of the proposed observatory site. "On a clear day, you can even see Chicago."

The convention center proposal on the former jail site almost certainly would be done by an outside developer.

"The county has recently authorized the demolition of those buildings," Lannert said. "Even though this will be a long time in the future, we think it will be a geat space holder."

The Geneva presentation and the Kane County Board Committee of the Whole are part of a long series of meetings in which plans will be discussed and developed.

"We’re just trying to get all the pieces on the table so that we can continue on with the design," Lannert said.

Geneva aldermen called the site plans "very exciting" and "awesome" at the April 16 City Council meeting.

Elconejo April 26, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I am happy to call Geneva home but the reality is that the property taxes are at a rate that deters home ownership for many, This will only get worse unless we become realists and plan in a way that lets Geneva maintain its charm by bringing tax dollars to the city. We all love the green of nature, but this is not the same green that pays bills. Im not sure keeping this area this area as a preserve will do anything for our city that the existing parks and river areas don't already accomplish How much park space does a community our size need? On the other hand, hospitality and commercial ventures will provide the tax dollars to keep our community vibrant, not just a destination site for older shoppers. Let's keep an open mind and look at proposals as opportunities to be worked with. How do we build a concert venue that creatively makes the most of its natural surroundings? Finally, I love hearing the summer festival music make its way into my back yard. It reminds me that this community is alive -- dare I say, with the sound of music? On that note I'd better end.
Ted April 26, 2012 at 05:13 PM
If it's done right, a Ravinia-type concert venue would almost certainly be self-supporting. Ticket sales opened today and Ravinia couldn't even handle the volume http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/04/26/customers-complain-of-waiting-for-hours-online-for-ravinia-tickets/ Obviously there would be some concerns about traffic and parking, but isn't the infrastructure already in place to handle parking at Elfstrom?
Augi Fesi April 26, 2012 at 07:17 PM
When people go to a baseball game of the Cougars it's usually as a family. Thus you will bring maybe 3-5 people per car. The planners have told us that Elfstrom has parking for approx. 2500 cars. That works out to between 7500-12500 people. When people, mostly adults go to a concert it will usually be couples, that equates to 5000 people in those same 2500 cars. Lets say even 4 people per car, that's 10000 people. You would have to build more parking lots or smaller venues. Plus in the summer season, because of Cougar games there are only 49 open dates to be used. What about parking for other events and facilities that are planned? The plan is rough, studies for everything from traffic, to parking, to impact on neighborhoods need to be done. The plan needs to be corrected to account for everything and actual locations for each planned venue or site need to be shown and drawn in the plan. Not it could go here or there in the next plan. Show how the courses, mountain bike/running will go in detail. Like was drawn up for C'Ville Bike Trails. What about using that huge land mass at the corner of Randell Road and Roosevelt Rd stretching almost as far as North Ave.It's called the Kane County Fair Grounds for concert events? We just spent a bunch of money out there on up-date a few years ago
Mary Brault April 27, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Again, have you looked at the plans? What business would benefit from traffic on rt. 25 between the Windmill Park and the Forest Preserve? There are none. You could care less about trees? R REALLY. I know you are a musician (and want a venie) and that seems to be your guide point but even you can't justify or rationalize you non-sensical rant. Educate yourself and let's have a reasonable dialogue without name calling and platitudes.
Political PR Machine April 27, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I will recant a bit...I love trees...they make for great beauty, attract birds, and look best when fabricated into custom guitars with double hum pickups and ivory inlays. They make good drums too. There's no need to fear losing all the trees if an entertainment development takes place...and the birds would love the sounds. They may actually invite their bird friends and create a freak of nature that only a concert venue could accomplish. You gotta think positively ...good things can happen.

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