ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – Kane County Board member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, stood on an excavated expanse of land southeast of the Juvenile Justice Center, the location for the new $11.6 million multi-use facility that will house several county departments, especially a new coroner’s office and morgue.
Because of recent heavy rain, the earth moving equipment stood still as areas recently cleared were too muddy and puddled with water to work to continue.
At nearly 55,000 square feet to be located on six acres, the project is monumental, as it collects several departments and county functions into one central area. Other than the coroner’s new facility, it will also house storage space for Kane County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, bomb squad equipment, evidence, sheriff’s vehicle maintenance and the county’s Facilities Maintenance Department.
The Kane County Board approved the contract for the building in March. Ground was broken for it in early said Frasz, who is serving as liaison and board representative on the project.
When the discussion began to build a new coroner facility with a new morgue and storage area, Frasz said officials began to hear from other departments that were just making do in sub-standard spaces.
“Staff had needs we were not aware of,” Frasz said.
He pointed to an outdoor storage unit near the sheriff’s department.
“That is where evidence is stored,” he said.
The new facility will allow for better, more secure evidence storage, he said..
“Building maintenance never had a home,” Frasz said. “Believe it or not, building maintenance was in the basement of the coroner’s building. It moved to where the Diagnostic Center was – in that Pizza Hut building on Fabyan Parkway that is condemned.”
Frasz was describing how the building looks, not that it has any connection to the pizza restaurant chain.
That building which is also slated for demolition – is on a nearly 40-acre property owned by Kane County. It had formerly housed the County Jail and Juvenile Justice Facility, both have now been demolished.
The Diagnostic Center moved to the Kane County Circuit Clerk and Branch Court facility, 540 S. Randall Road, St. Charles.
Having the sheriff’s SWAT team and Bomb Squad in the same location is important, Frasz said, for the county’s safety.
“When the Henry Pratt shooting happened in Aurora, the sheriff had one or two SWAT vehicles here, but the majority were in South Elgin,” Frasz said. “So they had to go – lights and sirens – 10.5 miles to South Elgin (Public Works building) and come back.”
Storing the SWAT vehicles and equipment on on the Judicial Center campus site also puts every function nearly at the geographic center of the county, Frasz said.
Campton Hills is actually the center of the county, with the Judicial Center campus just two miles off, he said.
The bomb squad is currently being stored in an unheated, poorly secured pole building at the Fabyan property. It impedes the functioning of the bomb equipment robots, because in cold weather, their batteries need to warm up before they can function.
“The back of the building has raccoons that come down and walk through,” Frasz said.
The new coroner facility will be much more efficient – and nicer for the public to come to, Frasz said.
The coroner had six autopsies to do the weekend of the Pratt shootings. The new facility will have two autopsy rooms.
And when families come to identify their loved ones, there will be a nicer entrance area for them to wait in, instead of the small, closet-like area at the current coroner facility, Frasz said.
The coroner’s new facility will also have its own x-ray machine. Currently, bodies need to be x-rayed at the hospital before being brought to the morgue, he said.
R. C. Wegman Construction Company of Aurora is the general contractor for the project and Campton Construction in Elburn is doing the site work.
Frasz estimated the building would be finished by the end of the year with move-in by January.
“Everybody is really excited,” Frasz said.