Viewpoint: Perryville project means all-out war

Viewpoint: Perryville project means all-out war

By Joe Baker and Frank Schier

Perryville project means all-out war

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor and

Frank Schier

Editor and Publisher

You’ve heard of road rage? Well, the battle of Perryville Road is shaping up as a real war. Opponents, who seem to be the majority of residents in the northern portion of the county, are organized, financed and very angry.

Townships not in the direct path of the proposed road are realizing they will pay the freight along with everyone else, and it will affect them in other ways.

The issue of Rural Farmette zoning is tied in with the road program, whether county officials are willing to admit it or not.

Representative government in Winnebago County vanished not long after the ascendancy of Kris Cohn to the county board chair. The board and its subordinate departments do not represent you and me. They represent the coterie of developers and builders who bankroll Cohn’s campaigns.

They will be the beneficiaries of this project. It will give them access to coveted real estate and allow them to build lots of cute little “ranchettes,” strip malls and chain stores. No matter what environmental or other problems may result, the important thing from their perspective is the bottom line.

If you believe this road will be built for $30 million, you probably would buy the tooth fairy myth as well. Try doubling that number or even more.

The problem is, where is the county going to get that money? They plan to wring most of it out of our hides, but they can’t do that immediately. Meantime, the Cohn crew is scrambling around, trying to find other sources of funds. They can’t get it from the state, Gov. George says he’s broke.

Nobody knows now what the attitude of the federal government will be toward any appeals for money for this kind of project. Dubya may not understand the question, not to mention the answer. He’ll have to ask Dad.

At the same time, some permits are going to be needed for this road because it will cross wetlands and four creeks. The state Department of Natural Resources is casting

Continued on page 6

From page 1

a jaundiced eye on this county after the debacle of Blackhawk Springs.

So too, is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Rock Island. The enforcement division at Rock Island says it is keeping a close watch on the county’s activities and has indicated it is not overly receptive to granting any more permits until they are certain the county is in full compliance with the law.

Given the county’s track record on the Springfield-Harrison extension, if I were a property owner along the proposed right-of-way, I would be pretty nervous about the prospect of quick-take being employed. To date, Tom Ditzler hasn’t received a dime for the property the county seized. His “day in court” will probably be filled with cheap kangaroos.

Of course, it is absolutely vital to have the appropriate boards and committees cast votes in favor of the road, so it is all legal and binding.

To that end, Madame Cohn has been busy packing these bodies with her stooges to ensure the “right” votes are cast. Those who dared to think for themselves and voice any questioning of the great one’s wisdom have been ousted.

There will be the pretense of collecting public input on this issue, but at crunch time, the lackeys will vote as Kris decrees. It’s a moss-covered strategy of dictatorial politicians.

In addition to this, there was the gleeful declaration about one year ago, by Congressman Manzullo and Cohn, that $5.5 million had been obtained from good old Uncle to build an interchange at I-90 and Rt. 173. Remember?

That raises the question: if they’re going to all that trouble–and they are–what do we need with an extension of Perryville Road? Notice how quiet they’ve been on this point.

The voters out there are not as dense as the courthouse crowd assumes. They’ve spotted and assessed the smoke-and-mirrors associated with this deal.

Illinois Conservation Voters, an activist citizen group, is calling on the county to prepare and present a “cost-benefit” analysis. The county, accustomed to ramming these things through and studies be damned, is declining to furnish the data.

With such a study, there would be some hard and fast data on which to evaluate this project. But we can’t have that, can we? Much better to steamroller the electorate and collect many more pieces of silver from the developer clique.

This time, however, the state and federal governments may not be so amenable. In Roscoe, Rockton, Durand, Pecatonica and elsewhere, the voters are uniting. They are pooling resources, and they have legal assistance.

The opening salvo in this fight is about to sound, and there will be many more to come. This will be a key struggle and very well may determine the future direction of Winnebago County. Will it remain a good place to live, or will it be a developer’s paradise that no one can afford?

Tom Ditzler knows the answer to that question. Too bad all of the opponents to Perryville did not come to his assistance. If the Springfield-Harrison juggernaut had been stopped, the Perryville opponents might be having an easier time.

By the way, out at the Ditzler disaster, the pumps are still going 24/7, and the gravel is going in by the truckloads. Get ready, Perryville.

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!