Oswego SD308 approves land deal with village for Wolf’s Crossing roundabout

Oswego Village Administrator Dan Di Santo speaks to the Oswego School District 308 Board of Education on Aug. 9, 2022, as village Public Works Director Jennifer Hughes listens. (Mark Foster -- mfoster@shawmedia.com)

OSWEGO – A deal has been struck that will provide the village of Oswego with a parcel of land it needs to construct a roundabout at a dangerous intersection near Oswego East High School.

The Oswego School District 308 Board of Education approved the plan in the wee hours of Aug. 9, during a meeting that started the previous evening and ran well past midnight.

Under the deal, the school district will hand over a 2.95-acre piece of property near the intersection of Wolf’s Crossing and Harvey roads, in exchange for a $75,500 credit toward a $162,000 debt that village officials say is owed by the district for traffic safety improvements.

The Oswego Village Board must ratify the deal prior to Aug. 30, or else pay the school district $75,500 for the property, under the resolution approved by the school board.

The roundabout will be a key piece in an ambitious $70 million plan by the village to reconstruct and widen the four miles of Wolf’s Crossing from Route 34 in Oswego east to Eola Road in Aurora.

The land to be provided by the school district is needed for stormwater drainage and detention in connection with the roadway project.

Early in the school board meeting, Oswego Village Administrator Dan Di Santo and Public Works Director Jennifer Hughes appeared before the school board seeking to acquire the property.

Di Santo stressed past partnerships between the village and the school district.

“Wolf’s Crossing is a partnership as well,” Di Santo told the school board.

The village was asking the school board to simply donate the land, but would have been agreeable to paying the district directly for the property, Di Santo said.

Later, Di Santo said he was pleased with the deal.

“This is a mutually beneficial project. We’re glad the district is willing to move forward,” Di Santo said. “This compromise is preferable to the village paying outright.”

Hughes said the Wolf’s Crossing project, which is being divided into 10 segments in order to spread out the massive cost over time, will transform a two-lane rural section road into a four-lane urban thoroughfare with a central median and turn lanes.

Work to rebuild and widen the section of the roadway between DeVoe and Harvey roads would get underway next spring and would be expected to be completed by the end of the school year, Hughes said.

Construction on the roundabout would start after school ends in the spring and would be finished later in the fall of 2023, Hughes said.

Measures would be taken to prevent or discourage motorists from attempting to cut through the nearby Prescott Mills subdivision while the intersection is closed for the work, Hughes said.

The cost of the DeVoe-Harvey section of the work, along with the roundabout project, is estimated at about $8 million.

School district Chief Financial Officer John Petzke told the board that in 2003 the district entered into an annexation agreement to pay for 25% of the cost of a traffic signal at the intersection of Harvey and Wolf’s Crossing.

The current cost of a traffic light is estimated at $500,000 and the school’s 25% portion could have been between $160,000 and $200,000, Petzke said.

“The cost of a roundabout, not covered in the annexation agreement, is substantially more than a traffic signal, but the benefits for our students who use Wolf’s Crossing Road will be better served with this solution,” Petzke said.

Noting that there are plans for roundabouts to be constructed elsewhere in Kendall County, the Harvey-Wolf’s Crossing roundabout will provide the district’s driver education students a perfect opportunity to learn how the negotiate the circular intersections, Petzke said.

The school board had a long agenda, with action items placed at the end. The meeting stretched for hours past the 7:15 p.m. start time. At about 12:45 a.m. the board voted to approve the land agreement on a 6-1 vote.

Technically, the land deal was approved as an amendment to the 2003 agreement. The amendment stipulates that both the village and the school board must sign off on the arrangement before Aug. 30.

Those voting in favor of the deal were board President LaTonya Simelton and members Alison Swanson, Eugene Gatewood, Jennifer Johnson, Dominick Cirone and Jared Ploger. Voting no was board member Lauri Doyle.