Heading into the new year, we asked Northwest suburban mayors and village presidents two questions: What was the most important or biggest or best thing to happen in your community last year? What's your biggest expectation/hope for your town in the coming year?
We publish answers to the first question today. The answers to the second question will appear Jan. 2.
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Mayor Arlene Mulder
Each year is full of great activities and community celebrations, but one event that was a special one-year standout was the 125th anniversary celebration of the village of Arlington Heights' incorporation.
This was an event that the entire community rallied around. The 125th Anniversary Committee's successful celebration year far exceeded my expectations of how this significant anniversary would be recognized.
Residents embraced the theme of "Honor the Past, Celebrate the Present, Explore the Future" that was carried through the "Trains on the Track" public art display program, the "Touch a Train" event held during Frontier Days, and the celebration message featured on the street banners throughout the village.
Our village history was also reflected in the beautiful images of the 2012 Quasquicentennial calendar and other memorabilia items. The spirit of the volunteer committee that organized the 125th anniversary events is indicative of the spirit of our community. I have always been amazed and thankful for the pride that residents have in their community, and of their willingness to be an active participant in all that makes Arlington Heights great.
Village President Karen Darch
In 2012, economic growth in the community through the expansion and addition of businesses was a high note, particularly given the state of the overall economy.
The wonderful expansion of the Wickstrom Auto Group and the additions of Heinen's Fine Foods and the Ace Hardware were welcomed by Barrington. All three projects furthered retail sales and increased job opportunities.
The Wickstrom project also re-created the vista along its section of Northwest Highway. Barrington was honored to be the location of Heinen's first store outside of its Ohio base, and ecstatic about the much desired return of Ace Hardware to Barrington.
Village President Robert Abboud
(In 2012, the village has) continued to hold the line on the tax levy. This will be our fourth levy in a row with no increase.
We have been able to do this by continuing to modernize our operations and improve operating procedures. We have instituted an electric rate signup program which provides residents with an alternative electric energy supplier at a substantially reduced cost. We have successfully completed our yearly road and drainage program.
The move of (Barrington Area Council of Governments) operations into the village hall and protect BACOG's operations to support our community and protect our drinking water supplies. A number of awards to the various entities in our community for environmental protection. Continued success in properly funding and building reserves in our IMRF and IPPF pension funds.
Village President Michael Airdo
The village board approved the BAPS annexation and rezoning on Sept. 18, 2012. The BAPS mandir is a welcome addition to our village of Bartlett, nurturing peace, understanding, caring and compassion in our community.
This year, Moody's Investors Services affirmed an Aa1 rating to the village's bonds, putting Bartlett in the top 5 percent of communities in the nation rated by Moody's. The good credit rating and lower borrowing costs for the village saves money for our residents. This good bond rating helped us when we turned our attention to the infrastructure of our community and took far-reaching action that will benefit our residents for many years.
On April 17, 2012, the village issued the 2012 road bonds in the amount of $13.5 million to fund a three-year road improvement project. This summer, the village resurfaced the first 15 miles of roads, those in the worst condition, throughout Bartlett. An additional 40 miles of road resurfacing is planned for 2013.
The second infrastructure project focuses on the management and mitigation of stormwater. Bartlett continues to work in conjunction with DuPage County and the DuPage County Forest Preserve District to implement the Brewster Creek Watershed Plan project, which will significantly improve the stormwater drainage for the Beaver Pond area. This $4 million stormwater project was funded by DuPage County and bid out on Oct. 17, 2012.
The village also worked in partnership with the village of Streamwood to continue engineering and to implement construction of the North/Prospect/Hearthwood Detention projects.
Village President Jeffrey Braiman
After several years of reduced sales tax receipts resulting from the nationwide economic recession, 2012 saw an increase in commercial development planning.
The village experienced the beginning of redevelopment along the Dundee Road corridor with several new restaurants opening and the planning of a new food store at Dundee and Buffalo Grove roads.
The most notable project brought before the village this year related to economic development was the proposal to convert approximately 65 acres of the Buffalo Grove Golf Course to a new multiuse downtown center. While the proposal has great potential as an economic engine for the village, it could also serve as a destination for Buffalo Grove, combining commercial, residential and municipal uses along with high quality public space and programming.
Mayor Martin J. Moylan
2012 was a fruitful year for the city of Des Plaines and a culmination of many positive events for our community. I am proud to say that in these days of economic uncertainty, our city's finances are solvent. We have maintained a 0 percent tax levy for the past three years, our fund reserve savings have risen to a comfortable level, and our overall debt has been lowered, thus helping increase our bond rating to an Aa2.
We continue to welcome new businesses and partnerships into our community, including the opening of a Goodwill Store, which brought many jobs to our city. Just last week we cut a ribbon marking the opening of Boston Fish Market. The development of Oakton Community College's new 93,000-square-foot Science and Health Careers Center is a welcome addition and truly an academic achievement, as is the recent announcement of Des Plaines Elementary District 62 Superintendent Jane Westerhold being named Illinois Superintendent of the Year.
Rivers Casino continues to flourish, which is good for Des Plaines, as well as the "benefiting" communities which share in the overall proceeds as specified in our agreement.
On a recreational note, I am happy to say 2012 witnessed, once again, our three biking events: the Tour Des Plaines, the Tour De Villas and the Des Plaines River Trail Bike Ride. 2012 was a very proactive and productive year for Des Plaines. While we accomplished a great deal, we also had time to have fun.
Elk Grove Village
Mayor Craig B. Johnson
One of the most important things to happen to Elk Grove Village during the past year was that Elk Grove Village has continued to improve our financial position as we come out of the Great Recession. In May, we closed the 2012 Fiscal Year with a $1.2 million surplus in our general operating fund. In November, Moody's Investors Service reaffirmed Elk Grove's highest Aaa bond rating as part of a bond refinancing that saved the village $2.7 million. The reaffirmation of the Aaa rating makes Elk Grove Village one of 203 municipalities that have earned the prestigious Aaa distinction out of 3,262 municipalities that are currently rated.
Mayor Rodney Craig
Hanover Park in 2012 brought new Village Manager Juliana Maller with skills to assist us in building our economic viability into the future. Two really big events for Hanover Park were the completion of our new police headquarters building and receiving an award for Outstanding Design from Engineering News Record. Additionally, we celebrated the completion of our Veteran's Memorial on Veterans Day, a huge tribute to those who have served our country.
Mayor William McLeod
2012 was a year of great success for the village of Hoffman Estates. One of the most impactful accomplishments was the establishment of electrical aggregation which saves participating residents almost 40 percent on electricity cost. Economic development success includes the opening of Tate and Lyle, Mariano's, Saddle Room, Stone Eagle Tavern, Morizzo Funeral Home, and Core Orthopedics.
Village President Jack Tatooles
At the beginning of last year, I was hoping that we would experience increased stability and financial confidence. Fortunately, those things came to pass. We ended the budget year in the black and below budget, experienced growth in building permits and new construction and had our AAA bond rating reaffirmed by the S&P. These positive trends allowed us to hold the property tax levy for 2012, without reducing service levels to village residents. We were also able to hold operational expenses at prior-year levels. Our stability was a welcomed outcome considering the uncertainty in the world today.
Village President Kevin Richardson
The village made major strides in 2012 to develop our Pepper Road Business Park. These included completion of a comprehensive market analysis, wholesale revisions to our sign regulations, installation of welcome signage and the grading of two large lots in the Northpointe development with letter of credit funds. To enhance resident life, key infrastructure projects were completed, including the Chesapeake neighborhood and Harbor Road resurfacing, along with major improvements to the Golfview subdivision featuring an entirely new stormwater management system. Finally, we purchased a new, multipurpose dump truck in partnership with the Cuba Township Highway Department.
Village President Maria Rodriguez
In Long Grove we are encouraged by the indisputable proof that our local economy is improving. New homes are being built, serious traffic concerns are being addressed and new businesses are coming to our community. During 2011, we issued only two building permits for single-family home construction; this year we have issued 17.
Driving on Old Route 53 will be easier with a new stoplight at Old Hicks Road and a bike path will improve safety. Some businesses have closed, but those that have stood the test of time are solid and continue to prosper; our new businesses are flourishing. We have 44 shops and restaurants in our downtown. Along with updating their inventory, many shops have moved from the "bricks and mortar" model to the "bricks and clicks" model, meaning they have increased their Internet presence to supplement sales and support their business. We are grateful to those who have made it a habit to "shop local," either in person or online. They help to ensure the continued success of small towns like ours.
Mayor Irvana Wilks
We celebrate the rebirth of Mount Prospect's Randhurst Village -- an outdoor shopping mall with landscaped plazas and Urban Prairie architecture. It has an AMC theater, a Hampton Inn & Suites, stores, restaurants, banks and offices. The public/private collaboration between the village and Casto Lifestyle Properties has led to its success.
Mayor Jim Schwantz
The opening of the new police headquarters was one of the highlights for 2012. The new facility will allow our police department to meet the needs of our community for years to come, which is a benefit to all of Palatine's residents and businesses.
As we experienced record heat and drought this year, the village's participation in electric aggregation could not have happened at a better time. The savings achieved by those residents and businesses that participated were, and will continue to be, significant.
Lastly, the village has continued to hold the line on taxes and fees. The recently approved budget for 2013 will mark the second consecutive year that the village will collect less in property taxes from our residents and businesses. In addition, the total village budget for 2013 is less than the 2012 budget.
Mayor Nick Helmer
By the end of that calendar (we saw) the reorganization and staffing of the police department, turning a part-time city hall operation into a full-time venture and, most of all, completing the Phase I repair and resurfacing of 53 streets. Just as important to this growth were our partners in Wheeling motivated by President Abruscato and her council to stimulate progress at Chicago Executive Airport. Also they completed our Levee 37 joint venture by creating the 50 million gallon detention center in Heritage Park.
The 2012 Phase II road program got under way quickly and 11 more miles of streets were completed by November. The Citizen's Police Academy was formed to help protect our city. The focus on economic development came next. It started with the first flames of a 350-square-foot vacant space being reborn as the Prospect Heights Grill. Shortly thereafter the OTB joined up with Players Pub and opened up their facility in time for the Kentucky Derby.
Village Cyclery bought and now occupies their totally remodeled sales operations in a building on Rand Road. This was quickly followed up by a national grocer who will be opening a 17,000-square-foot store at Palwaukee Plaza. Video gaming was approved by the council. Next came the opening of The House of Music and Entertainment with a 25,000-square-foot entertainment and sports bar facility. And Ultra foods will be opening their new 87,000-square-foot grocery operation this spring in Prospect Crossings. Over 150,000 square feet of retail space and more than 300 jobs have been brought to our city in just one year!
Village President Brad Stephens
The past year was tremendously exciting for Rosemont. So far, we've seen the opening of the Five Roses Irish Pub, Kings Bowling, Toby Keith's "I Love this Bar and Grill," Adobe Gila's Mexican Cantina, The Park Tavern, Zanies Comedy Club and our outdoor ice-skating rink, open now through Feb. 24. Rounding out the MB Financial Park will be "My Big Fat Greek Restaurant" and the Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall, modeled after the famous establishment in Munich, Germany, and slated to open in January. Additionally, the Big 10 is relocating their headquarters to the Park where they will open an interactive hall of fame museum and share the building with Steakhouse, Fogo de Chao. All in all, 2012 has been a terrific year of growth and opportunity for Rosemont. And 2013 won't disappoint either.
Mayor Al Larson
This past year has seen resurgence in Schaumburg's sales tax base. Sales tax revenues are strong and Schaumburg's Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center is having its best year ever. Proposals are pending for a number of exciting projects that should be ready for groundbreaking next year. One of the best things to happen in 2012 was the certainty that three fine trustees will be back on the (village) board. Jack Sullivan, Marge Connelly, and Frank Kozak will be running unopposed.
Village President Billie Roth
The village of Streamwood continued to enjoy good fortune in 2012. We saw modest increases in our revenue, while keeping costs contained without any loss of service to our residents. Given the economy, this is significant news in and of itself.
The most important piece of news, however, was the announcement that Chiquita Brands was moving its Fresh Express facility to Streamwood. Fresh Express took over a vacant manufacturing plant on Lake Street, allowing the company to consolidate its operation under one roof, and bringing over 600 jobs to the community. It's a great way to start the New Year!
Village President Kathleen Leitner
Tower Lakes finished 2012 with a flourish. After two years of work, the village of Tower Lakes, together with Cuba Township, Citizens For Conservation, Barrington Area Conservation Trust as well as individual contributors and the Tower Lakes Community Foundation, joined together in October to purchase 15.5 acres in the village to create a conservation easement which will preserve an important wildlife corridor, protect old growth oak trees and high-quality wetlands, as well as the Tower Lakes and Wagner Fen. This first ever cooperative purchase including local governments and conservation groups demonstrates what can be accomplished through creative cooperative effort.
Village President Judy Abruscato
From innovative new partnerships that will increase our manufacturing competitiveness, to the electrical aggregation program that has reduced our utility expenses, to the openings of exciting new businesses and public spaces, 2012 was full of good news for Wheeling. The biggest event, however, was almost certainly the startup of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District's construction project in Heritage Park, a cooperative effort with the park district and the village that will create new recreational amenities for our residents and much-needed flood control throughout the region. We look forward to following its progress in the year to come.