Daily Herald opinion: Sometimes you just need to play a waiting game with that messy neighbor
As you drive along the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, past the Daily Herald's print center and Boomers stadium in Schaumburg, you'll notice there are no billboards along the side of the road.
Same goes for a stretch of the Jane Addams Expressway. Once you've gone through Hoffman Estates and before you are assaulted by a string of Brian Urlacher-related puns heading toward O'Hare, there is a short stretch in Schaumburg that's bereft of billboards.
Schaumburg Village President Tom Dailly is a guy who likes to make good impressions. So was his predecessor, longtime mayor Al Larson.
It's why Schaumburg prohibits such billboards. It's also why the village for years has been trying to get rid of the tall black column at Algonquin Road and Thoreau Drive that supports a billboard which, ironically, entices motorists to come see the Schaumburg Boomers play.
Village leaders are proud of their minor league franchise, but this is not how they want to promote it.
The problem is, the billboard looms above a quarter-acre lot in unincorporated Cook County adjacent to the village. On it also sits what remains of the long-shuttered Frankly Yours hot dog stand, with boarded-up windows, cracked pavement, a riot of weeds and a "for lease" sign.
It is a tremendous eyesore.
The village has been trying to buy the lot from its out-of-state owner since Larson was mayor -- with no luck.
Dailly told our Eric Peterson the village has even sweetened the deal by offering to tack 10 years of revenue that the billboard would have generated onto the purchase price. But the owner isn't budging.
Three things that tell us the site isn't abandoned completely are the freshness of the billboard's content, the "for rent" sign and the owner's pertinacity.
Schaumburg leaders are so keen to get their hands on this property over which they hold no dominion because this could be a grand gateway to the northeast part of town, where a lot of the development action is. It's spitting distance from the convention center and Renaissance Hotel and the intersection of Algonquin and Meacham roads, where one of two neighboring entertainment centers will be developed.
If you've seen the enormous stone sign off I-290 near Woodfield, you get a sense for what Schaumburg might have in mind for the corner of Algonquin and Thoreau.
However, this is not a legitimate use for eminent domain, and village officials know that. They can, and should, work with the county to continue going after the owner for the deplorable lack of upkeep of the property. But beyond that, it's a matter of how much the village wants the land and how much is finally enough for the absentee landlord to sell.
Whatever the case, those who live in the apartments and the nearby Plum Grove Estates neighborhood would be plenty happy to see it go.