DeKALB – Weeks of negotiations between Northwestern Medicine and the city of DeKalb over the construction of a $46 million health and wellness center wrapped up hours before Monday’s City Council meeting.
The end result was the council’s unanimous approval of an agreement that would allow Northwestern Medicine to use the city’s stormwater system and install a traffic signal and opposing left-turn lanes on Bethany Road.
A one-time fee of $85,000 had been proposed to allow the facility – which is located on unincorporated county land – to use the city’s stormwater utility, but it was waived once the health care provider agreed to make the traffic changes.
Jay Anderson, president of Kishwaukee Hospital, said the project is special not only for the jobs it will bring building the center and the jobs it will create moving forward, but as the major asset it will be to the community.
“I fully understand the two major concerns, the stormwater and the traffic, and hopefully what you see in this agreement is our long-term commitment,” Anderson said.
He added that the agreement was an indication that the parties could be transparent with each other.
Mayor Jerry Smith called the negotiations exhaustive but commended both staffs for continuing to reach common ground.
“It has been a spirit of good will and a spirit of community,” Smith said.
Seventh Ward Alderman Tony Faivre questioned whether the city would be protected in the event that the Environmental Protection Agency offered different guidelines for stormwater, but Community Development Director Jo Ellen Charlton said there was a provision that covered that scenario.
Also in the agreement are provisions that if Northwestern Medicine believes the project cannot be completed on projected timeline, it would have to give notice to the city no later than March 1, 2018.