Sugar Grove Village Trustee Kevin Geary said n a Daily Herald endorsement interview this week that he likes President Sean Michels a lot. He could see himself going out for a beer with the guy.
"At the end of the day, I disagree with the policies and procedures of how the village is run," Geary said, explaining why he wants to be the president.
Geary said he is open to receiving ideas -- "I can't run the village by myself" -- and characterizing Michels as not. "There is no 'I' in Geary; there is one in Michels," he said.
Michels, who has been president since 1999, said being president is about more than procedure and policies. "It's having the vision," he said, like trying to get Metra to extend service to Sugar Grove, or fiber optic cable to every business and residence.
"In 14 years, I haven't heard Kevin bring up anything about policies or procedures," Michels said. Geary has been a trustee since 1999.
Asked to cite specifics, Geary criticized how it took more than five years to fix a flooding problem in the Mallard Point subdivision. Residents complained about groundwater seeping into their houses; some said their sump pumps were running every minute around the clock, even when it had not rained, and that they were burning through pumps every year. Many said the village was to blame for letting the houses be built on that site in the first place, knowing it had drainage issues, and for failing to notice missing components of the system when inspecting construction.
"The village played bat-the-ball-around, as opposed to taking the side of residents and truly fixing the problem," Geary said.
Michels said the flooding wasn't a village problem, but that it took a lot of engineering and surveying work to determine what the cause was. Coming up with a solution with the Rob Roy Drainage District, which covers the area, took much of the time, and the village delayed the project when it thought the price for an easement on the land the subdivision drains to was too high, he said.
Geary said the village should "leverage" the Aurora Municipal Airport for business. Executives of Fortune 500 companies are flying in there to go golf at nearby Rich Harvest Farms, he said, and the village should be talking to them about locating facilities here.
He also thinks the village should be talking with the owner of land near the airport about building a motorplex, for people to store high-end vehicles.
Geary said village officials should also be consulting the owner of land near Routes 30 and 47, where Forest City had planned a mixed-use development back before the recession. "Seeking their wisdom as to what it would take to come to town would be a plus," he said.
Michels said that he is trying to get the state to redirect Prairie Parkway money to widening Route 47 from Yorkville through Sugar Grove. "I am fed up to no end that the state wants to spend $180 million down in Grundy County," he said. He also continues to push for a full interchange at Route 47 and Interstate 88 since village officials believe that would spur commercial development.
Besides those proposals, Geary said he would like to see improvements at Routes 30 and 47, suggesting that could be second on the wish list behind the I-88/Route 47 interchange.
Back to vision
Given one wish, Geary spoke about increasing people's involvement with the community. "Are we creating those opportunities? I don't think we are," he said.
Michels' was to run fiber optic cable throughout town, to get a choice of Internet service providers. Residents have long complained about the quality of service from the current Internet and cable television provider. He is looking into the deal the village of Gilberts struck with a company that is running fiber optic cable through municipal sewer pipes and then sells the availability to ISPs. Besides making residents happy, it could attract business, he said.
"I'd love to see some data centers come to town," Michels said.