Believing the economic table has been set, Lake Villa officials have hired the first administrator in village history to take its downtown plan to the next level.
Karl Warwick, who has given notice as village administrator in Fox River Grove, has been hired in Lake Villa and will begin his duties in mid or late January.
Warwick, a Gurnee resident who turned 35 on Tuesday, was selected from more than 100 applicants for the $112,000-a-year position.
"We have a lot of projects going that need full-time attention," Mayor Frank Loffredo said. "Our transit-oriented development downtown has just been approved, and we want to move forward with that."
Warwick served much of his career in Lake County. He spent five years as a management assistant in Grayslake before moving to Lindenhurst for a four-year stint as assistant administrator. He began the Fox River Grove job in September 2012.
"He's really a good fit for us. He knows the area, obviously," Loffredo said. Warwick also worked with Lake Villa on electric aggregation issues while at Lindenhurst.
Fox River Grove is about half the size of Lake Villa, which has a population of about 9,000.
Both communities have police departments, operate and maintain parks and have water treatment plants. Both also have commuter train stations, a major road in town and a body of water as an amenity.
Warwick said he has worked on economic development matters in Fox River Grove, but the community is landlocked, while Lake Villa has room for growth.
"I'm very excited about it. It's definitely a great opportunity," he said.
Loffredo, who has served more than 16 years as mayor, said hiring an administrator was considered in the past, but the timing was right for this historical move. Lake Villa was incorporated in 1901 but was originally settled decades before as a resort area.
"He's coming in really at the beginning of the big picture, if you will. The timing is perfect," Loffredo said. "Now is the time we can pull the trigger on some of these possibilities," for downtown development.
Warwick said economic development and bringing Lake Michigan water to the village are two key projects he looks forward to working on.