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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
City: St. Charles
Office sought: St. Charles Alderman
Family: Married, wife Diane, son Matthew
Occupation: Retired Teacher/Supervisor, St. Charles School District 303; Instructor of School Law, Aurora University (current)
Education: B.S. Business Education, Illinois State University, 1969
M.S. Business, Illinois State University, 1972
Civic involvement: 1. Worked with city employers in establishment of Internship and Apprenticeship Program for St. Charles School District 303;
2. Implemented a Mock Trial Tournament (now in its second decade) involving area schools and the Kane County Judiciary;
3. Participated in the ST. CHARLES 2014, Return of Charlemagne plan;
4. Facilitator of St. Charles School District
303 Community Forum (after retirement).
Elected offices held: Board of Directors, Illinois Education Association
President, Saint Charles Education Association
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: Candidate did not respond.
Key Issue 1
Revenue (See questions 2, 3 and 4 below)
Key Issue 2
Smart Growth (See questions 2, 3, and 4 below)
Key Issue 3
Construction of Red Gate Bridge (See question 1 below)
Explain whether you or do you not support the construction of the Red Gate Bridge project and the funding mechanism the city has established for its construction?
QUESTION #1. IN LIGHT OF THE RECENT OPENING OF THE STEARNS ROAD BRIDGE, SAFETY CONCERNS BY RESIDENTS IN WARD 3 AND THE CONTINUED LEVY OF .05 ON THE TAX RATE IN TIMES OF ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY, FURTHER DATA MUST BE PROVIDED TO FIRMLY ESTABLISH SUPPORT OR LACK THEREOF FOR THE RED GATE BRIDGE IN THE SHORT RUN.
The discussion concerning the need for a bridge north of the central business district has been ongoing for decades focusing on the knitting of this river town and providing an alternative river crossing particularly for northeast and northwest quadrant residents, emergency vehicles and school transportation.
A .05 levy on the tax rate has been constant since the late 90s showing forsight in allowing a fund to grow for initial costs and providing a mechanism for debt service.
Careful study, and support from various taxing bodies have been published while public surveys seem to favor construction. City dollars and grants have been expended during Phase I and Phase II of the project.
Meanwhile, six miles from the central district, the aforementioned Stearns Road regional bridge has been opened raising questions about its impact on river crossings in our community. Currently, the city provided pre-construction projections which suggest impact will be minimal. In addition, a number of residents in Ward 3 have raised concerns as they relate to safety exiting the bridge and its immediate surroundings. City staff has provided supportive government data and studies but concerns remain. In addition, the economic downturn and projected city budget deficit have raised the issue of the economic feasibility of continuing to levy the .05 or whether the .05 levy will be enough to fund the debt service.
I can assure constituents and residents that as a third ward candidate, I will listen objectively and carefully and ask appropriate questions as new data is provided. If privileged to cast a vote in this matter, I will do so with as much information and input as possible including face-to-face dialogue with residents and city staff during the campaign.
How should the old St. Charles Mall property be redeveloped, if at all?
QUESTION #2. THE RANDALL ROAD CORRIDOR AND THE TRAFFIC GENERATED SUGGESTS REDEVELOPMENT THAT IS FOCUSED BUT NOT LIMITED TO A NATIONAL RETAIL STORE(S) THUS GENERATING A NEEDED REVENUE STREAM. ANY ACTION MUST BE TAKEN WITH A BIG PICTURE VIEW IN MIND.
Any redevelopment of the old St. Charles Mall property must be done with a ""big picture"" view in mind--the micro issues of the site and the macro issues associated with other city wards. What has transpired in the recent short term? Retail establishments closed (restaurants, chain stores, grocery stores, specialty stores). Developers purchased property (Lexington Homes, Town and Country Homes). Rezoning of residential property was proposed (Town and Country Homes).
Two developers (Remington and Pine Ridge Park developers) experienced financial difficulty. The First Street Development project showed encouraging prospects. A committed neighborhood association raised serious concerns about a proposal for redevelopment of the Old Mall property.
These events serve as a backdrop to any new proposal of redevelopment.
Should the property be redeveloped? This is our Westgate. It provides first impressions entering our city. It provides opportunity for consumer choice and city revenue streams. However, any new redevelopment proposal cannot be acted upon until after a new council is seated. As a candidate for City Council, I would make the following suggestions:
1. Any developer should create rational dialogue with the residents surrounding the property seeking input and concerns.
2. City Council members need to be present during the entire planning/hearing process listening to, asking, and analyzing questions and answers.
3. Any redevelopment should be done in light of the lessons and impact of other retail closings.
4. Any redevelopment should be done in light of proposed residential developments in other wards.
4. Any redevelopment should be done in light of the financial difficulties of previously mentioned developments.
5. Any redevelopment should be done in light of other potential redevelopment projects (Siegel property).
6. Any redevelopment shold be done in light of current vacant office space.
7. Any redevelopment should be done in light of the current development of First Street.
8. Any redevelopment must contain traffic studies from the central business district to the old Mall site (with particular attention to Prairie St. and the surrounding neighborhoods).
9. Any redevelopment should take into consideration current theory regarding commercial/retail/mixed use/mall
A redevelopment of this property MUST be done as one piece of a managed, organized and balanced larger development/growth picture across all five wards.
Do you support the current vision new ownership has for Charlestowne Mall? What should the city do to help the vitality of the mall and the attractiveness of the Oliver-Hoffman property?
QUESTION #3. CURRENT OWNERSHIP HAS NOT, FROM MY VIEW, MADE CLEAR TO THE COMMUNITY WHAT ITS INTENT IS IN RESHAPING AND REDEVELOPING THE CHARLESTOWNE MALL. SMALL SOUNDBITES HAVE NOT OUTLINED A DEFINITIVE VISION. THE CITY CAN AND SHOULD BECOME AN ACTIVE PARTNER IN THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF A NEW VITALITY IN THE PROPERTY.
As a foundation to the question of the city's help in restoring vitality to the property, it is important to point out that modern research repeatedly suggests that enclosed regional malls will continue to become obsolete.
The current site, despite the closing of Sears, has four strong retail entities in Von Mauer, Kohls, Carson Pirie Scott, and the Theatres.
Would it be wise to encourage the ownership and Kohls to move to the front of the mall occupying the Sears vacancy?
Should economic development city staff working with the owners encourage a reconfiguration of the property using the anchors as a foundation for a concept that may include what the publication RETAIL TRAFFIC suggests is a "". . . roster of retailers in a much easier open-air center or in an urban streetscape. . . a mixed-use center, creating vibrant, social spaces that will keep people coming back to physical stores for a long time.""
Those ""mixed-uses"" could include additional restaurants, a university extension center, a community theatre (given our vibrant art community), or activities that engage children such as an aquarium. Modern thinking also suggests short-term rental to allow multiple retailers to rotate the showing of wares.
Once again, a redevelopment of this property MUST be done as one piece of a managed, organized and balanced larger development/growth picture across all five wards.
The city is projected to finish the fiscal year with a small budget deficit. What, specifically, must the city do in the next fiscal year to avoid a deficit? Would you support the creation of new taxes to shore up the budget?
QUESTION #4. ANY BUDGET THAT IS NOT BALANCED IS UNACCEPTABLE. With the city facing deficits in the short term, it is imperative for the staff to continue moving toward ""the new normal"" as it relates to budget adjustments (Budget Plan, 2010-2011--I8) Opportunities for revenue streams (new sales tax revenues) should continue to be aggressively pursued. With a reserve in excess of the city policy of 25% of operating expenditures, I recommend use of a portion of such funds to address the deficit while maintaining property tax levies at current levels ($12,055,177) in the operating fund per Finance Director Minnick's recommendation and Council Action at its November 15 meeting. THIS WOULD SUPPORT A MAINTENANCE OF CITY SERVICES. Current economic conditions and the increase in state personal income and corporate taxes do not support increases in any new local taxes. As a footnote, it is unfortunate that municipalities will not share in any increased revenue associated with the increase in state income taxes (Daily Herald, 1/26/11).
Explain your reasons for whether you do or do not support the creation of a stormwater management fee or tax in St. Charles to create funds to address flooding problems?
QUESTION #5. ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2010, THE GOVERNMENT SERVICES COMMITTEE OF THE CITY COUNCIL TABLED THE FEASIBILITY STUDY OF THE CREATION OF A STORMWATER MANAGEMENT UTILITY IN LIGHT OF CURRENT ECONOMIC CONDITIONS AND THE BURDEN PLACED ON TAXPAYERS. I ENDORSE THIS ACTION.
In addressing the need to correct flooding problems across the city, I would exhaust all possible grant opportunities that may be available and have become available prior to any proposal to levy an additional management fee upon the residents of the city.