It was just a village board planning retreat, so what could be the big deal about Glen Ellyn village leaders' meeting Monday at College of DuPage? In some ways, the locale might be considered more significant than the topic of the meeting itself.
A little more than two years ago, leaders of the village and the college appeared poised for dissolution of a relationship that it is not too melodramatic to say was at the core of both institutions' vitality. Officials in Glen Ellyn, which collects more than half a million dollars a year in various fees and taxes from the college, bristled at COD's reluctance to adhere to village edicts on signage and building code issues. In response, officials at the state's second-largest higher education facility, supported by the village's high-quality, reasonably priced transportation, water, sewer and safety infrastructure, bristled at Glen Ellyn's insistence on adherence to what they considered unnecessarily picky rules.
It became an unseemly, if not petty, power struggle, with the college threatening to de-annex from the village entirely and the village threatening to allow it.
No good could have come from such a development, of course, and fortunately prudence prevailed. Instead of pressing COD with its safety and building standards, Glen Ellyn agreed to let DuPage County become the arbiter of safety and construction codes at the college. In response, the college dropped its efforts to secede.
The result has been something less perhaps than a full rapprochement but better certainly than an all-out break. What had been a war of public sniping calmed to direct communication, and a relationship that was all but dysfunctional managed to find ways to be actually productive.
Perhaps one of the most positive signs showed earlier this year when COD and Glen Ellyn inked an agreement allowing village employees to work on and add improvements to a village-owned sanitary lift station located on the college campus. Such easements had been discussed by the two parties for years, with nothing to show for it until the April agreement.
"We're coming together and looking at today and tomorrow and moving forward. This starts an emphasis that we're going to work together in every capacity, It's a beginning of a new relationship," Glen Ellyn Village President Alex Demos told Daily Herald reporter Christopher Placek for a story we carried Sunday.
Whether that relationship has blossomed into a full-fledged commitment, it may be still too soon to tell. But COD's hosting of Monday's meeting of village officials at least demonstrates that valuable progress has been made. Paradoxically, contrary to what we said at the outset, it might even be emphasizing that the meeting's topic, planning the future of the village, is more important than its locale. The big deal, in short, is that the locale is not a big deal.
Which of course is how it should be.