Metra’s plans on schedule

CRYSTAL LAKE – Metra officials are moving forward with a plan to build a third Crystal Lake station on the Union Pacific Northwest Line in unincorporated Ridgefield.

The Crystal Lake Planning and Zoning Commission will discuss rezoning issues for the project today and set a public hearing on rezoning and the preliminary planned unit development for March 17.

Despite some opposition to the location and concerns about traffic, Metra has not made significant changes to its design. The plan calls for the station to be built on a 17½ acre site on Country Club Road at Prairie Drive. It will include a commuter depot and warming stations on the north side of the tracks and a parking lot with 875 spaces.

Metra has completed a traffic study and incorporated feedback from local leaders into the station plan, Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Thomas Hayden said.

Members of both the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Crystal Lake City Council have questioned the location and traffic impact. Two council members voted against a preliminary annexation agreement in January.

The McHenry County College Board of Trustees also asked Metra to reconsider the location with an eye toward building a station within walking distance of the school’s campus at 8900 Route 14. Despite adopting a resolution to that effect last November, the board isn’t holding out much hope.

“Let’s face it, there won’t be too many people walking from there to the college,” board President George Lowe said. “We’ll have to find a way to bus them.”

Though the station isn’t as near as the board would like, Lowe said it would benefit the college in years to come by providing alternative transportation options for commuting students and staff members.

“Right now, public transportation options at the college are extremely limited,” MCC interim President Kathleen Plinske said.

Metra officials have indicated that they were willing to work with the college to provide some type of shuttle service to transport people between the station and campus, Plinske said. In the future, that might allow students from Woodstock and other McHenry County cities to use the train to get to class.

Ultimately, it will be up to the City Council to annex the land. A public hearing on the annexation could take place in early April, said Michelle Rentzsch, the city’s director of planning and economic development.

If you go

What: Planning and Zoning Commission Public Hearing

When: 7:30 p.m. March 17.

Where: City Hall, 100 W. Woodstock St., Crystal Lake.

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