Friday, July 21, 2006

Kane County Fair

Lots of barnyard animals at the 138th Kane County Fair. Enjoy this wholesome American institution while it lasts. Eventually--and especially if Elgin's Far West strategy stimulates growth along 47--Kane County may become like Cook County, agriculture will disappear and there will be no fair. Hopefully not in my lifetime...

Sunday, July 16, 2006

If you missed the fireworks

July 4 fireworks at the Elgin Sports Complex. Thanks to EshelmanK.

Stowell-Peddy Park or Oldfield Park?

South Elgin is considering whether to rename the park in the Thornwood neighborhood to reflect a slice of the village’s agricultural roots.

Apparently “The 10-acre Park in the Thornwood Subdivision” isn’t cutting it and officials say a new name should celebrate the history of the area, which is near the Corron Elementary School.

The village board this month could consider a resolution to rename the park to the Stowell-Peddy Park, in honor of two longtime South Elgin families who owned the land. (Elgin Daily Herald 7/16/06)
Unless the two South Elgin families donated the land I think it would make more sense to honor South Elgin's greatest athlete, Brian Oldfield.
BRIAN OLDFIELD threw far...really, really far! He was the first man to throw 73', 74', and 75' in the Shot Put. he held the American and World records. He was a Munich Olympian and a National Champion Brian competitor in the World's Strongest Man and Superstars Competition. He graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. (Source: John Powell Associates)
He apparently wasn't a perfect human being, but perhaps it's better to name it after him than the people who sold them the land.

The Chicago Tribune featured Mr. Oldfield in a story just a couple of days ago.
Oldfield was a freaky combination of strength, speed and shrewd intelligence who burst out of Elgin to revolutionize his sport, perfecting a twisting windup that let him hurl a 16-pound iron ball farther than anyone on Earth.

Lusty, profane and rebellious, he became one of the memorable characters of the swinging 1970s, sparring with Muhammad Ali, trading barbs with Don Rickles and reveling in tales of the "sado numbers" he inflicted on biker gangs.

"When God invented man, he wanted him to look like me," he was said to have bragged in 1975. (Chicago Tribune 7/13/06)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Walton Island (?)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Reservations about the home grants program

According to the proposed changes, the city may increase the $1,000 it gives those who remove chain-link fences as well as cover a percentage of the cost up to $3,000 or $4,000 to replace the fence with a different material. (Elgin Daily Herald 7/7/06)
Overall, I think the home grants program is a good idea. My only reservation about the fencing program is that it treats all fencing besides chain-link as equal in all parts of the city. I may be wrong. I haven't actually looked at the code, but based on what the newspapers reported, it doesn't discriminate between historic districts vs. non-historic districts or between spaced picket fences and stockade type fences (no spaces). I don't think this "one size fits all" approach is what we really want. The truth is that all types of fencing are only situationally appropriate.

I would have preferred rules that took into account the architectural style of the home/neighborhood: In the historic districts, subsidies only for spaced picket fences. In the mid-century (ranch-type) subdivisions, a smaller subsidy and only for solid-type fences. Etc.

What to do with the YMCA site

Park supporters have argued that children who live near the old Y site are cut off from nearby Gifford and Lords parks by busy Chicago and Liberty streets. They have said a park would benefit the neighborhood's underprivileged children who lack other recreational opportunities...

Housing proponents point out that the city is improving the open area beside Channing Memorial Elementary School, just south of Chicago, and say upscale homes will boost property values more than a park could. (Elgin Courier News 7/9/06)
It's just a 3 acre site. I have to doubt that an experienced developer would build an upscale project there without enormous subsidies from the city. You just have to look at Wellington. "Build it and they will come" has not worked--not yet at least. From all appearances, Wellington is still vacant except for one unit, purchased through a sweetheart deal.

I'm skeptical that upscale homes can be sold there, and I'm skeptical that they will boost property values more than a park would. A nearby park is a significant amenity. What good does it do to have an upscale home nearby?

Elgin Academy wants $700K for theater

Under the plan, Elgin would foot a portion of the cost for the 43,115-square-foot building slated for the corner of Kimball and Dundee avenues.

In return, Elgin would get the mid-size theater many residents have been pressuring city leaders to build. (Elgin Daily Herald 7/13/06)

Just wondering, who's been pressuring the city to build a theater? It's sad if we're going to build a theater now. You know, after we've torn down the Crocker? My opinion? No new theater without new theater groups.

Use what we have. If any theaters are needed, they should be converted from old buildings. Think black box.

BSF purchased by Cook County Forest Preserves

Cook County Forest Preserves is the new owner of Bluff Spring Fen. Congratulations?

The district Tuesday approved obtaining the 163-acre parcel for a mere $350,000 — and even that money will come from a private grant.

The jewel of the fen is the Bluff Spring Nature Preserve, an 87-acre portion where much restoration work has already been done. (Elgin Daily Herald 7/13/06)

This probably means easier access to the fen, perhaps via Gifford Road. I don't think the Friends like the idea of easier access, but if it means the rest of the area gets cleaned up, it won't be so bad. You can still spot a car submerged in one of the quarry ponds. Hopefully that's the first thing they drag out of there.

I think BSF is now the westernmost property owned by Cook County Forest Preserves.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Lovely girls - 4th of July parade

More pictures by dulosis.

Pregame Strategy

More pictures from playball.

BMX @ The Hill

Silicon Valley around here?

Some bloggers and pundits spent May-June discussing ideas of how a region can become a Silicon Somewhere. Could it apply to Elgin? Food for thought:

Something to look at

The new Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, designed by Jean Nouvel. Picture courtesy of The New York Times:

The site is a Modernist heaven on a former industrial strip along the riverfront. Just next to the complex is a grain elevator, similar to those that Le Corbusier once lauded as the American equivalent of the Parthenon, the "magnificent first fruits of a new age." An electric generating plant looms across the river; to the north, water rushes through a series of locks beneath an industrial bridge.

Like so many cities, of course, Minneapolis has gradually undergone an economic transformation. Most of the city's old flour mills were shut down long ago. The concrete grain elevator alongside the theater complex has been preserved as a historic monument, and a nearby row of warehouses has been converted into co-ops. Mr. Nouvel's design takes its initial cues from the city's early history. The complex's scale fits nicely with the structure next door. The boxy, piled-up forms echo the electric power plant across the street, anchoring the theater in the city's early industrial ethos rather than in the shopping centers and office towers downtown. (New York Times 7/4/06)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Thoughts on a cell phone ban

The funny thing about the cell phone studies is that they don't seem to explain why the rate of car accidents haven't exploded since cell phone usage became widespread. I guess the studies may be biased or otherwise designed poorly. One explanation for the results of their study could be that the subjects were asked to talk for lengths of time that do not correspond to the typical pattern.

The reason drunks get into accidents is that once they're drunk they're going to stay drunk for a while, probably the whole duration of their trip in the car. Drivers on cell phones, on the other hand, may talk for just a few minutes. So the amount of time during which they are distracted, as a percent of their total driving time, may be relatively small and may not pose as serious a threat to traffic safety as it may otherwise seem.