The Kane County Board caught a glimpse of the future Tuesday in a presentation on the Judicial Center campus master plan.
You can see the slide presentation here, but those slides are just the tip of a long-range planning iceberg that would satisfy space needs for Kane County government going into the middle of the century, with expanded parking, additions to almost every major building on the campus and the consolidation of many of the functions now housed at the Government Center in Geneva.
The first step and most-urgent construction suggestion is an ambitious addition to the present judicial center that could cost between $80 million and $100 million and could begin as soon as the next two to three years.
“In a way, it’s like a mortgage,” County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen said after the presentation by Wight & Company, the architectural, engineering and construction firm. “That’s a building that we’re going to live in for a long time. It’s within our borrowing capacity, if we spread it over a 20-year period.
“But you know what the even-harder question is? It’s not the capital costs, it’s the operating costs,” Lauzen said. “Because, if you build more offices and there are more people, you’ve got to pay those people every day. That was a question I asked at the commission level, and we’ve got to have that answered before we break ground.”
Former Kane County Chief Judge F. Keith Brown leads the Judicial and Public Safety Strategic Planning and Technology Commission that has been working on the master plan.
Wight’s space-needs assessment included input from 47 departments and elected offices in Kane County government and projected the needs for a county predicted to have a population “a shade under 800,000” by 2040. About 520,000 people live in Kane County today.
Lauzen emphasized that “there are years of planning experience ahead of us,” and approval will have to be earned through multiple committees, because the scope of the project and its ramifications for county government’s future are substantial.
“Right now, we’re really looking at once piece at a time,” Lauzen said.