Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sherman unveiled its plans for a new hospital building at Big Timber and Randall Road this week. The design includes an "environmentally-friendly" geothermal HVAC system, which relies on a large lake. I hope that the final plan will call for a more naturalized lake than depicted in their illustration. In any case, if it breaks ground soon, I guess it will be the second environmentally-conscious large building under construction in Elgin. The other is Judson's Harm A. Weber building--currently under construction, which boasts a "natural ventilation system" that requires "little or no mechanical intervention for six or more months of the year." Whatever the environmental merits, it's an interesting design, and I look forward to seeing the final result.

Some downtown businesses are worried about losing customers when the hospital moves. That's a legitimate concern. The new developments in downtown should soften the blow somewhat, but I think they're right about the need for a significant institutional presence in the downtown area. One idea I'd like to see explored is expanding Judson across the Fox River via a bike/foot bridge. The Riverfront Master Plan already calls for some bike path to connect Judson to the downtown on the west bank, but I think connecting via the east bank and the existing Fox River Trail is a superior option. The only thing that needs to be constructed is a bridge at the waterworks, near the existing boat launch, where the river is very narrow. Benefits would accrue not only to Judson and people affiliated with Judson, but to the downtown, the northeast neighborhood and area biking enthusiasts, who would then have an alternate route to Tyler Creek Forest Preserve.


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