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updated: 12/29/2011 11:14 AM

Northwest suburban mayors look back at the best of 2011

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Arlene Mulder, Arlington Heights: 2011 has been a challenging year for our community in regards to the storms we experienced. Our year started with a blizzard in February, followed by summer storms that knocked out power and/or caused extensive flooding for many residents. It was impressive that despite the difficulties residents faced in the aftermath of these storms, neighborhoods came together to help one another. These actions reminded us that the tremendous strength of our community is the people who live here, and their willingness to care and help one another.

Karen Darch, Barrington: One of the best things to happen in Barrington in 2011 was moving ahead with downtown redevelopment. We were excited to have Heinen's announce that it will open a new store in the village -- its first in our region -- in 2012, and we were pleased to have selected a developer for our key commercial corner at Hough and Main streets. We hope in 2012 to further move those projects along and look forward to the new jobs and increased vitality in our village that those projects will bring.

Michael Airdo, Bartlett: In 2011 we started to see glimmers of economic recovery in the business sector -- over $30 million of commercial and industrial construction. Brewster Creek Business Park welcomed ITW Brands, a division of Illinois Tool Works, early in the year. A leading European fresh pasta manufacturer, Rana Meal Solutions, chose to locate its first U.S. plant in Bartlett. Rana will employ approximately 70 people, and its move here will push the occupancy rate in Brewster Creek Business Park above 75 percent. We are also fortunate to have welcomed several new restaurants for everyone to enjoy.

Jeffrey Braiman, Buffalo Grove: The village was fortunate to welcome several new businesses in 2011 including Leica Microsystems, PrimeSource Healthcare and LG Electronics USA. The year was filled with many great community and service events such as Buffalo Grove Days, the farmers market, Relay For Life, Pink Heals and the Walk to Fight Diabetes.

Bob Kellermann, Deer Park: While 2011 was a difficult economic period across the state and nation, the village of Deer Park ended up with a surplus, putting a halt to many years of deficit spending. The village implemented the largest ever infrastructure program in the history of the village. The program will include significant road, drainage, and park improvements to have our village an even better and more desirable place to live.

Martin Moylan, Des Plaines: 2011 has been an exciting time for Des Plaines, as it marked the grand opening of Rivers Casino, which provides jobs for hundreds of people and serves as an economic boon to the region. Surrounding and benefiting communities will continue to see the fruits of this development for years to come. Des Plaines, as host, will be diligent in its ongoing efforts to secure the health, safety and welfare of our residents and visitors to this fine entertainment venue. Also, highlighting our 2011 accomplishments are the initiation of a generator rebate program, offering residents assistance in emergency power outage situations, and the continuation of the Flood Rebate Program.

Craig Johnson, Elk Grove Village: In 2011, we were proud to have balanced our budget ... without raising general government property taxes for the fourth straight year. Moody's reconfirmed our highest AAA bond rating and over 107 new businesses moved into Elk Grove Village last year. Moreover, in 2011 Elk Grove embarked upon the most aggressive infrastructure improvement project in its history. Due to attractively low construction prices as well as federal grants and Build America Bonds, Elk Grove was able to construct nearly $23 million in public improvements at a cost of less than $14 million. We reconstructed and resurfaced streets, installed new water mains, rehabilitated sewers, and undertook similar public projects. This investment will serve our residents and businesses today, tomorrow, and well into the future.

Rodney Craig, Hanover Park: The village was approved for two RTA grants to study the feasibility for a Transit Oriented Development, and a study of the County Farm Road corridor for the development of transit inclusive of the six villages of Hanover Park, Roselle, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Wheaton and Winfield. The plans are progressing nicely. The TOD is a future economic engine for Hanover Park as it lies at the crossroad of County Farm/Barrington Road, the Metra railroad and the current entryway to the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway. An additional success is the engagement of the village's Strategic Plan as we energize TIF dollars with initiatives that bring interest to Hanover Park from developers. We have been engaged in planning and relationship building during the economic downturn.

Jack Tatooles, Inverness: About the best thing to happen in the village can be summed-up on one word: stability. When you consider the turmoil in the economy, housing market and the impact they have had on local governments, Inverness remained stable. While we have experienced some housing-related issues, neighborhoods have maintained their character and residents continued to receive excellent village services. This is due in large part to a very cost-conscious village board and senior staff.

William McLeod, Hoffman Estates: Hoffman Estates experienced two important achievements in 2011. The first was the groundbreaking of Alexian Brothers Health System's new Women's and Children's Hospital on the campus of St. Alexius Medical Center. Not only will this facility be the only specialized children's hospital in the Northwest suburbs, it will also bring additional jobs to the village. The second notable accomplishment was the passing of legislation that keeps Sears Holdings Corp. in Hoffman Estates. This vital extension of the Economic Development Area means that Sears' 6,000 jobs in the community -- and over 9,000 ancillary jobs in the region -- won't leave the state.

Kevin Richardson, Lake Barrington: The opening of Fidelity Motors at the corner of Route 14 and Pepper Road was the most important event of 2011 in Lake Barrington. The closure of the Saturn dealership caused this highly visible corner to sit vacant for more than a year-and-a-half with a corresponding reduction in village sales tax receipts. The purchase of the property by Fidelity Motors, with incentives from the village, has greatly enhanced the village's already strong financial position and locked that corner in as a retail destination along with the Pasquesi Home and Gardens across the street. The contribution of this type of business to the village is tremendous.

Maria Rodriguez, Long Grove: Last year we opened the Sunset Grove Shopping Center. As we had hoped, our residents are supporting all of our village shops more than ever. Neighbors enjoy seeing each other at the grocery store, the downtown boutiques and restaurants, as well as at the summer concerts at our new gazebo/band shell. The growing community spirit is palpable. Long Grove has become more than just a place to bring out-of-town guests.

Irvana K. Wilks, Mount Prospect: I celebrated with all of the Mount Prospect businesses which had grand openings or ribbon-cuttings in this still-difficult economic time. They ranged from new stores and restaurants coming into Randhurst, or the new Northwest Community Hospital facility, or a new school, and other businesses that make our community so rich.

Jim Schwantz, Palatine: This past year marked the relocation of our northwest fire station, reducing response times in a business where seconds save lives. The project also came in $150,000 under budget. The past year also saw record rains and record snowfall. Palatine's residents and public works employees did an outstanding job in working together to respond to these events.

Nick Helmer, Prospect Heights: Completing Phase I of our new roads program has been heralded as the best improvement to come to our city since its founding in 1986. We completed 13 miles of resurfacing and repaving, eliminating many hundreds of potholes and craters that pockmarked our city's transportation routes. The many cards, letters and emails that followed each of the 53 streets we completed attested to a very successful program. Phase II streets have already been designated to start in March of 2012 with Phase III coming close behind. By the time this program closes at the end of next year, more than 30 miles of streets will have been completed.

Bradley Stephens, Rosemont: In 2011, the Chicago Bandits brought the NPF World Championship title home to Rosemont and their new world-class stadium. Our Tri-State Tollway exit ramp, newly opened at Balmoral Avenue, makes it easier than ever for fans to get to games. We saw tremendous progress on construction of our new entertainment complex -- The Park at Rosemont -- and the opening of our new permanent outdoor ice skating rink.

Tom Rooney, Rolling Meadows: The biggest achievement in Rolling Meadows in 2011 was going ahead without the state and finally rebuilding New Wilke Road.

Al Larson, Schaumburg: A number of events stand out as important to Schaumburg's future. April's election ensured that Schaumburg's ship of state would continue on course. I got my board back. Commerce and industry want certainty and a sound business climate, and April's election ensured that. Our decision to further reduce Schaumburg's property tax levy an additional 6 percent is also a plus. We kept our pledge to do that, despite naysayers to the contrary. And I'm pleased that we rode through the worst recession in history without cutting people loose.

Judy Abruscato, Wheeling: No doubt most will remember 2011 as the year "American Idol" came to Wheeling, and we're grateful to Haley Reinhart and her family for giving us an opportunity to share the good things that are happening in our community with the rest of the world. From the grand opening of the redeveloped Fresh Farms center, to exciting new additions to our Restaurant Row, to innovative high-tech partnerships with our schools and thriving manufacturers, to continued progress toward the reshaping of our town center, we fully expect this year's steady supply of good news to continue into 2012!

• Barrington Hills, North Barrington, South Barrington, Streamwood and Tower Lakes did not participate.