- Editor’s Note: This is the first of Kane County Connects’ PROGRESS 2015 report, a series of articles highlighting Kane County communities’ top development projects of the coming year.
- PART 1: Burlington’s Big 3 Projects for 2015
- Feature photo credit: Copyright 2014, Lee Hogan
Nestled in the northwest part of Kane County, the village of Burlington might appear to be a small community of 618 residents, but in 2015, it is a village with broad shoulders and big ambition.
Three projects that will be completed or will reach benchmarks in the coming year make Burlington a municipality whose progress is worthy of note: the Plank Road Realignment Project, Elgin Community College’s Public Safety and Sustainability Center Campus and the Main Street Overlay.
Plank Road Realignment Project
It may be forever unknown why Burlington founders James and S.S. Mann created a jog between Elgin-Genoa Plank Road and Sycamore Street — both now known as Plank Road — as they laid out the plat for the original village in September 1851. Old maps indicate the likely situation that a building stood in the way of extending the Elgin-Genoa Plank Road straight across Main Street.
For whatever reason, that’s what the Mann brothers directed Kane County Surveyor Andrew Pingree to do, and village residents have been paying the price ever since. In the past 30 years or so, traffic congestion at the intersection has been a bit of a nightmare, and residents have become increasingly concerned that the alignment is a public safety issue as well as a literal roadblock to economic development.
Now, after years of planning, the village is poised to fix that problem once and for all.
Though sketches on coffee table napkins may be older, this project has been in the planning stages at the Kane County Division of Transportation since the mid 1980s, when Deputy Director Tom Rickert began his career with Kane County. In 2001, a feasibility study was completed and in early 2002, with rapidly blossoming development interest in Burlington and other parts of Kane County, detailed planning for this project began with the first draft of an intergovernmental agreement between the village of Burlington and Kane County, laying out the details of how this project would be designed, funded and constructed.
Though the intergovernmental agreement was shelved in 2007 along with development interest, Burlington worked diligently with the property owners along the intended route of the realignment and with their cooperation acquired the right of way as had been planned and provided for in annexation agreements.
In the summer of 2013, with the right of way acquired by Burlington and with Kane County’s acquisition and demolition of the house at the northwest corner of this intersection, final negotiations began on the intergovernmental agreement that would make this project a reality.
The cooperation of the property owners along this route — from whom additional easements and rights of way were required for this project to proceed — was instrumental in bringing this project to its construction phase.
This project will remove the jog created 164 years ago, return East Plank Road to the quiet neighborhood street it once was, provide a safe thoroughfare for travelers on Plank Road, especially at its intersection with Main Street, and create economic development opportunities that will benefit both Burlington and Kane County.
ECC’s Public Safety and Sustainability Center
In June, 2010, Elgin Community College requested proposals from all municipalities within Community College District 509 for the acquisition of land to build a Regional Public Safety Training Center. None of the received proposals was acceptable to ECC which resulted in a request for information from all municipalities within District 509 as well as brokers and individual land owners being issued in December the same year.
The village of Burlington had submitted its case for selection in both June and December and was ecstatic to learn the rural Kane County village with population 618 had been selected as the new home of ECC’s newly named Public Safety and Sustainability Center. Though the original 98-acre site proposed by Burlington on the south side of town along Burlington Road did not ultimately meet the requirements of ECC, a second site of 118 acres was identified on the east side of the village on the south side of Plank Road.
Public hearings, intergovernmental agreements and planned development agreements were all completed by mid-December 2012, with ECC becoming property owners in Burlington by the end of the year. Completion of architectural and engineering plans occurred in 2013 and in the spring of 2014 ECC broke ground and has made significant progress with the completion of site infrastructure activities. This year’s activities will include building construction, landscaping and paving on site along with turn lane improvements to Plank Road.
Public Safety Training Center
- ECC’s Public Safety Training Center will provide classes and training for law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians.
- Proposed facility features include a burn tower, firefighter and police training programs, and classrooms.
- 119.7 acres in Burlington (east on Plank Road).
- 18,300-square-foot academic building with space for future simulation training equipment.
- An 11,900-square-foot apparatus building, including classrooms and two bays for training on fire and police equipment.
- A three-story burn tower used for simulating residential and commercial fires.
- A 139,400-square-foot driving pad which includes a 28,200-square-foot skid pad.
- A drafting pond will provide water for firefighter training, and a second pond will be used for search and rescue training.
Main Street Resurfacing Project
Planning and coordination activities for a complete resurfacing of Main Street through the downtown portion of the village of Burlington began in 2010 with initial application to the Kane-Kendall Council of Mayors for funding assistance. Upon commitment of the village’s share of the project costs and in conjunction with the completion of the Plank Road Re-Alignment Project being completed by KDOT this summer, the Main Street resurfacing will also be completed this summer.
It is hoped that the completion of these three major projects in the village of Burlington will spark a renewed economic development interest in the western farm belt of Kane County along the major county highway routes that connect Kane County with DeKalb County and Northern Illinois University.
Focus on Burlington
Burlington is located at the crossroads of Plank Road, Peplow Road, French Road, and Burlington Road, all county routes.
Incorporated in 1906, Burlington is a small but growing town in a rural setting with great schools, nice folks, and large open spaces. Parks, recreation trails and ample open space give this growing town plenty of breathing room.
Kane County Connects is hoping to do similar profiles of PROGRESS 2015 for each community in Kane County. If you are a municipal development director or public official and would like to see your community highlighted, please contact Kane County Connects editor Rick Nagel at email@example.com.