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Article updated: 4/3/2013 5:05 PM

Long Grove candidates hope to revitalize downtown

The economic downtown has been particularly tough for historic downtown Long Grove. Village board candidates say revitalizing the area should be among the community’s top priorities.

The economic downtown has been particularly tough for historic downtown Long Grove. Village board candidates say revitalizing the area should be among the community's top priorities.

 

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It wasn't that long ago that Long Grove was a magnet for tourists eager to partake in the downtown's antique charm.

But the tour buses are a thing of the past, and candidates for Long Grove village board say one of the community's goals should be revitalizing the historic downtown.

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Four candidates -- including an incumbent and a former trustee -- are running for three village board seats in the April 9 election.

Christopher Borawski, a former trustee who now serves on the Long Grove Park District board, said the village board needs to reach out to community groups like the historical society and garden club to collaborate on revitalization.

"(There are) a lot of good people in the community, but the village chooses not to really cooperate with them to try to get things pulled together, to find a way to get more village residents actually to have a reason to come downtown," he said.

Borawski would like to see the village get together with property owners and tenants to

set up a theme for downtown. Since space is limited, he suggested rezoning clusters of buildings for common use.

"Right now the buildings are too small to have big restaurants in them," he said.

Newcomer Lori Lyman agrees the village needs a downtown plan, and said her experience with landscape architecture and construction could help.

"I have a good aesthetic to me, and I understand the building and development process, I think, pretty darn well," she said. "That's what I would like to try and bring to the table."

Lyman said past studies of downtown have shown, "We're sitting in the middle of some really good spending dollars."

"Let's go back to those (plans) and put together a plan and a program for how we make this happen now," she added. "We've got the basics."

Trustee John Marshall, the race's lone incumbent, said the recovery of downtown will depend on economic forces.

"The downtown is still hurting badly only because in this economy people don't necessarily go out and spend money on things that they don't have to have," he said. "I do think it's coming back.

"On the board we try to do whatever we can to help that downtown area to survive," Marshall added. "We have created the new street in town and the new town square."

Newcomer George Yaeger said the village should concentrate on public improvements.

"We have a downtown area that needs help and we need to look at our public responsibility, not the private responsibility of the stores and the landowners in the downtown, but (at) our public use," he said. "As we develop the intersection of Old McHenry Road and Robert Parker Coffin (Road), the county of Lake will put a new intersection in there. And at that time, what's smart is to also bundle that effort. What's smart is to bundle is to get the utilities underground. Get those telephone poles out. Make it look nice.

"Long Grove is a community that has a brand," Yaeger added. "It's a fabulous brand. We just can't let it go downhill. You need to refresh it and keep it alive for the future."

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