In many ways, 2017 showed that change was needed in economic development, local policy and other factors to make communities more vibrant and local government more proficient.
Going into 2018, we will see the beginning and end of several redevelopment and restoration projects, a new local ordinance and a handful of trials are some of the changes DeKalb County residents can expect in the first half of 2018.
Cornerstone approaching completion
Developer John Pappas has been adamant his two development projects in downtown DeKalb will be finished within a year of their approval.
Demolition for the $7.5 million Cornerstone apartment project on First Street and Lincoln Highway began in May. Most of the windows and roofing already are in place, which will allow framing and other interior work to continue through the winter.
Once the building is complete, the Barb City Bagels building at 124 E. Lincoln Highway will be torn down to create a 40-space parking lot for the tenants of the building’s 51 units.
Barb City Bagels will relocate into some of the building’s commercial space.
Fiscal 2019 budget process
The city of DeKalb’s fiscal 2018 budget went from being introduced to the public to approved by the City Council in 45 days, causing many to think that the planning process was rushed.
In response, the city is outlining a new budget process for fiscal 2019. During the Jan. 8 Committee of the Whole meeting, a 2019 budget calendar will be presented for review and revision. This would be followed by a goal-setting session to identify short- and long-term financial goals.
The council’s goals would then be reviewed and potentially adopted in February, which could lay the groundwork for future projects in fiscal 2019.
A midyear budget review will be held in July with projected revenues and expenditures in the general and water funds – the city’s two largest operating funds.
Nature Trail work to begin pending budget passage, bid requests
Pending the approval of the DeKalb Park District’s fiscal 2019 budget and the selection of a contractor for the project, the DeKalb Nature Trail is expected to begin its three-year expansion by early summer.
Amy Doll, executive director of the park district, said the work would ideally start in the late spring with the removal of invasive vegetation and plant species and preparing the ground for the planting of new species.
Any additional work may be contingent on the bid amounts that come in for the project.
She said that any closures to the 1.3-mile-long trail related to the project would last no more than half a day.
Alternative uses for farmland
People’s opinions will be heard at a public hearing on the proposed DeKalb County solar farm ordinance as early as February, although Marcellus Anderson of the DeKalb County Community Development Department said no date has been set.
The hearing would come almost a year after the County Board voted for a moratorium on solar and wind farm projects until ordinances could be written or 18 months pass, whichever comes first.
The Planning and Zoning Committee began crafting the solar ordinance in September. While renewable energy companies wait to set up shop in the county, there is opposition to the new energy facilities, as some want to see farmland remain farmland or learn what health consequences could arise from fields of wind turbines and solar panels.
New water treatment options
The cities of DeKalb and Sycamore will be on track to upgrade their water treatment plants this year if all goes according to plan. The Kishwaukee Water Reclamation District plant hopes to complete and open its new administrative and lab building in midsummer, district manager Mark Eddington said. Work began in September to upgrade aging systems. The improvements, costing $43.5 million, will allow the plant to better treat for ammonia and phosphorus to meet new standards.
To the north, Sycamore plans to apply for a low-interest loan for about $20 million from the Water Pollution Control Program to begin work on a new facility of its own. Sycamore Public Works Director Fred Busse said construction can begin in the fall if the city receives the loan.
Construction could take between one and two years, and at the end of it, the facility will add to 2 million gallons a day to its capacity, bringing the total to 4.9 million gallons. The facility also will include microscreening to filter out organic matter and UV light disinfection, replacing the current liquid bleach and peracetic acid used.
Drug turn-in program coming soon
The DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office, in cooperation with various other agencies, including local law enforcement, expects to roll out a new program in April.
The program, tentatively called Heroin Opioid Prevention and Education, is modeled after the Safe Passage program, through which opioid addicts in Lee and Whiteside counties who turned over their drugs have been placed in treatment, rather than being charged.
Of the 165 addicts placed in treatment, about 30 have come from Ogle, Bureau, DeKalb and Stephenson counties.
Trials before summertime
A Kingston man accused of raping two girls, a DeKalb man accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death and stuffing her in the closet, and a DeKalb woman accused of shaking an infant and causing brain damage all are scheduled to go to trial in the next four months.
Katie L. Petrie, 35, of the 900 block of South 14th Street, is charged with two forms of aggravated battery to a child, the most serious of which is punishable by six to 30 years in prison. Her bench trial before Chief Judge Robbin Stuckert is slated to begin at 10 a.m. Feb. 22.
Michael G. Kulpin, 21, is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated domestic battery and concealment of a homicide, and his trial is set to start April 16.
Both Petrie’s and Kulpin’s original trial dates were pushed back – Petrie’s because Stuckert had a scheduling conflict, and Kulpin because his new lawyer, Dan Transier – Kulpin previously was going to represent himself – needed time to prepare for trial.
Brenton Cleveland, of the 34700 block of Glidden Road, faces charges of unlawful restraint, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault stemming from incidents involving two separate victims at his parents’ home May 14, 2016, police have said.