Engineering firm says Kane County should plan to consolidate onto single campus, with Aurora and Elgin satellite offices

Long term, Kane County should consider consolidating its main buildings onto a central campus and create satellite offices in Aurora and Elgin, an engineering firm recently recommended.

Jason Dwyer, president of design and construction at the engineering and construction firm Wight & Company, presented the final draft of its Kane County Facilities Master Plan to the Kane County Board Committee of the Whole on April 23. If adopted by the board, the plan would guide county renovation and construction projects over the next 10 years and beyond.

The final draft of the Facilities Master Plan included short- and long-term recommendations on how to improve the county’s facilities, including the largest – to build a centralized campus for the county’s core functions at the current Kane County Judicial Center at the corner of Route 38 and Peck Road just outside of St. Charles.

This centralized campus, which was in the plan’s long-term or 10-plus years category, would bring together the currently separate Kane County campuses for law enforcement, governance and health in a move that Dwyer said would cut down on costs and improve the efficiency of county functions.

In the medium-term, or three to 10 years, the plan recommends creating a satellite “hub” of services in both Aurora and Elgin to bring things like health programs and tax collections closer to where most of the county’s residents live.

The Aurora satellite facility is proposed to be roughly 17,500 square feet in either a new building or a purchased and renovated existing building. Although the proposed project is years away, Dwyer suggested the satellite hub be located at either 1330 N. Highland Ave. or 1240 N. Highland Ave., which are both currently owned by the county.

The Elgin satellite is proposed to be larger than the Aurora site at roughly 23,000 square feet, also in either a new building or a purchased and renovated building. Dwyer did not suggest a location for that satellite facility.

These satellite locations would remain even after the creation of a centralized campus, Dwyer said.

To create that centralized campus, the draft plan proposes the construction of four new buildings and the expansion of two more at the current Kane County Judicial Center campus over the next decade or more. Limited information was provided about these proposed buildings beyond their purpose and estimated square footage.

The largest of the proposed buildings would be a new government center, estimated to be around 120,000 square feet. That building would sit across Route 38 from the current Judicial Center, according to the draft plan.

Construction on that building would still be at least a decade out, according to Dwyer’s presentation. A new health building was also proposed for the campus in a similar time frame, and no square footage estimate was given.

A 160,000- to 200,000-square-foot expansion of the current Judicial Center was proposed for the medium term. That expansion would include six to 10 new courtrooms and consolidate services currently offered in the Kane County Branch Court at 530 S. Randall Road in St. Charles.

A new building for Kane County Emergency Communications, or KaneComm, and the county’s Office of Emergency Management was also proposed in the medium term. That building would be around 15,000 square feet and be located on the Judicial Center campus, according to the proposal.

Within the short term, or the next one to three years, the draft plan proposed a new 50,000– to 70,000-square-foot storage facility and a 20,000– to 25,000-square-foot expansion of the Juvenile Justice Center.

Dwyer acknowledged that many of these projects are long-term solutions to problems that exist now, so he also proposed a number of projects to fix those issues in the short term.

One such project is the Kane County Health Department building. The Kane County Board recently voted down a resolution to build a new health building at the Judicial Center, primarily using federal funds, and Dwyer said the health department’s current building in Aurora is still a high priority for replacement or significant renovation.

Another proposed short-term fix was the lease of office space for some government functions. The county’s current government center is running out of space, Dwyer said.

The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office also needs more space, according to Dwyer. He said that space could either be found through leasing additional space or, if CASA can move to an expanded Juvenile Justice Center, renovate the area those programs currently use at the courthouse on Third Street in Geneva.

Since many of these projects rely on specific timing and funding, and some require one project to be completed before another, the draft plan provides different inner-connected project timelines, Dwyer said. That way, the Kane County Board has flexibility in picking projects while staying on track to fill all of the county’s department and office space needs.

The draft plan will now be considered by various committees before it goes before the Kane County Board for final approval.