Elburn trustee candidates discuss development, business
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Elburn Station is the elephant in the room with talks with candidates for Elburn village board.
The development, which the board approved March 18, might ultimately double Elburn's population.
Incumbents Jeff Walter and Ken Anderson Jr., and Patricia Schuberg and Michael Rullman, seek the three available four-year terms.
Schuberg has 15 years of experience on the plan commission, including reviewing plans for Elburn Station.
"Elburn is at such a critical crossroads," she said, explaining why she is running. Changes in the economy, the departure of Trustee Jerry Schmidt — "it was an apropos time to run."
Schuberg finds it "exciting" the village is moving forward on a transit-oriented development that is being built from scratch, instead of trying to retrofit something. 'We have a chance to do it on plain ground," she said.
"I saw Elburn Station come to a certain point, and I would like to see it finished," she said of the planned-unit development.
Schuberg would like to see the village have an economic development committee, including business owners, to improve the town's economy. And she agrees with Walter that Elburn Station may help the incomplete Blackberry Creek residential subdivision just to the south. "I think Blackberry Creek will be catching up. Blackberry Creek has its own benefits as well," she said.
Walter is seeking his second term. He first sought office after becoming involved with land-use issues for the Blackberry Creek subdivision where he lives. "The more I got involved, the more I thought 'I could do some good here,' " he said.
Walter voted against the preliminary plans for Elburn Station, concerned it called for too many apartments and had no senior housing. He's pleased with the concessions the village won, reducing the high-density apartments from 800 units to 400, getting some senior housing in the plan, and a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks. Overseeing the build-out of Elburn Station is one reason he wants to stay on the board.
He suggested the town could build a business/government corridor on North Street to connect to the subdivision. And the pedestrian bridge will enable residents of Blackberry Creek to get to downtown. "It is hard for us to get a bike anywhere in town," he said.
The Elburn Station development was tied, by the developer, to the extension of Anderson Road over the railroad tracks. Shodeen Inc. refused to sell the right of way needed to Kane County unless the development was approved.
"It gives us a kind of idea of who we are working with," Walter said. It's one reason he said he pushed for a requirement that single-family houses be built before any apartments could be done. "We've really dug our teeth in. There's no 'oops' in this. This is the future of Elburn. There is no room for mistakes."
Walter, who is finance committee chairman, also wants to improve the town's investment policies if re-elected.
He defended the village's decision not to buy the parking lot of the Congregational Church, saying the village was limited by law to paying no more than what the land was appraised for, which was lower than the asking price.
Anderson said his fiscal restraint and common sense make him the best candidate.
"I hopefully created some kind of vision for Elburn that we need to live within our means," he said of his first term.
He was the lone "no" vote March 18 when the board lifted its ban on video gambling; Anderson said allowing it would not improve the quality of life in town. He would like the village to increase contact with the business community to find out what the village could do for business owners, such as grants for facade improvements. And he would like to discount building and impact fees for Blackberry Creek, to create a "level playing field" when Elburn Station construction begins.
When asked about prioritizing spending, Anderson noted the village might have to reduce spending on other items so it can make required — and increased — police pension contributions, since voters refused to institute a tax for it last year. The other options are to increase revenues, or change the way the village provides police protection, he said. Potholes don't get fixed as fast, or roads repaved as soon when money is in short supply, he said.
Rullman did not answer a Daily Herald questionnaire nor attend an endorsement interview. A message has been left seeking his comments.
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