Today the McHenry County Board authorized staff to purchase up to another $10 million in property along the Randall Road Corridor. There are so many problems with how this all played out and I find it so troubling that I am making sure everyone understands what the hell just happened.
When you elected me to be your county board member I made a promise that I would not support the Randall Road project because of the price and design. The cost was $136 million and the Continuous Flow Intersection (CFI) were both NO GO items for most rational people. I kept my promise to you all today by voting no; however, we lost the vote 14 to 8.
Transportation Committee Failure
In the Transportation Committee Nick Provenzano, Jeff Thorsen, Diane Evertsen, and John Hammerand voted against the acquisition of additional property while Anna May Miller, Tina Hill, and Don Kopsell voted for it. However, in McHenry County we do not follow parliamentary rules – we have our own rules – and this means that if something dies in committee the Chairman of the Board can bring it to the board floor… and that is exactly what happened. But why did the resolution fail in committee?
Carolyn Schofield explains why she is for not sending the resolution back to committee. She explained why she wanted to vote. She believes the issue has been in debate for four years and that the project needed to move forward.
Dr. Michael Rein then had the opportunity to respond and simply put forward the first reason – it failed in committee.
Jeff Thorsen of District 2 asked some amplifying financial data which I will summarize: “How much does this really cost?”
And my own succinct comments on the reason I wanted to send it back (besides the obvious fiscal insanity).
We have just set a dangerous precedent in McHenry County… the committees don’t mean a damn thing. If something fails in committee and the committee chairman can convince the county board chairman to put it on the agenda it is going to pass. Finally, here is Mr. Provenzano adding additional detail to our line of logic.
The resolution failed in committee because a majority of committee members didn’t believe it was in the best interest of the county and the community. We are buying a bunch of property that we may not need. Look at this map.
You will see the project starts at Harnish Road and extends down past Polaris Drive. You will also see the extensive work that is being done on Algonquin Road, Bunker Hill, and Stonegate. The enormous problem with this intersection is the single left turn lane on to Algonquin Road. Cars back up rather quickly.
Above is the timeline for the project. We are in such a critical phase. No alternatives were ever discussed in Transportation.
Voting to send the project back to committee were:
- Nick Provenzano (Transportation Committee)
- Jeff Thorsen (Transportation Committee)
- John Hammerand (Transportation Committee)
- Diane Evertsen (Transportation Committee)
- Dr. Michael Rein
- Chuck Wheeler
- Larry Smith
- Andrew Gasser
July 5th – Full County Board Meeting
When we approved this land acquisition it only becomes more difficult to “right size” and not “stop”. Never mind a new county board will be seated in five months and will most certainly revisit the issue. Expect the arguments to sound something like:
“We already spent $30 million dollars on studies, engineering, and land acquisition… we cannot stop now.”
Not one board member, including myself, mentioned how frigging expensive our property taxes are and how this will impact our taxes going forward. We all know we need some extra turn lanes and a barrier… I am not convinced we need the Taj Mahal of intersections here in McHenry County.
I was reminded by a Washington DC colleague of mine that the only thing that really changes between local, state, and federal politics is the number of zeros involved. Randall Road is nothing more than the James Webb Space Telescope which is 10 years behind schedule, $7 billion over budget, and killed astrophysics inside Science Mission Directorate for five years.
Keeping My Promises to You
When you elected me I promised you more transparency on the McHenry County Board. I am keeping my promises to you. I cannot tell you, even on days like today where common sense gets massacred by political power, what an honor and a privilege it is to serve you all. I never take one day for granted.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve you.