Downtown rejuvenation, finding alternative revenue sources and infrastructure improvements are among the priorities of a proposed five-year strategic plan for Lake Zurich.
Village board trustees Monday night voted 5-0 to accept a strategic planning summary report that'll become the foundation of a permanent document guiding Lake Zurich to its future. Elected officials, village administration employees and a Northern Illinois University consultant established the criteria at a Nov. 16 meeting.
Trustee Jim Beaudoin said the November session turned out to be time well spent considering the ideas in the planning report.
"I think it was great work by the staff in getting this (report) organized," Beaudoin said. "I think it's going to be a huge step moving forward with some clear direction as we continue to address some of these issues and not bury our head in the sand. This gives us a nice focus on what we need to do."
Addressing the longtime quest for downtown redevelopment, the report states the village should try to make its downtown a regional destination while focusing on small, niche shops and restaurants. Building height should be restricted to a maximum three stories and clear expectations for potential developers should be formed, according to the report by Assistant Village Manager Roy Witherow.
Lake Zurich has a $28 million debt in connection with a special taxing zone created for the downtown, which in part came from property purchases. The planning report says the village should address and manage the debt -- expected to balloon due to interest costs in the next couple of years -- in an attempt to stretch payments over time.
On the idea of seeking more revenue, the report says multiple and flexible strategies should be used to boost finances within five years. One possibility could be hikes in "various fees and taxes as necessary."
Another idea would be to shift from a village government-controlled park and recreation department to reduce municipal costs. Such a move would entail creation of a park district, a separate taxing agency.
Lake Zurich could develop a new capital improvement plan for infrastructure issues such as street repairs, sewers and drainage, according to the report. Officials in November voiced concern about whether the village can financially support its road resurfacing plan.
Specific action plans will be devised and presented to the village board for input and approval. Officials may consider a town-hall meeting for residents after the strategic plan is finalized and posted on the village's website.
"Revitalized civic engagement is an important aspect for all of this to work well," Witherow's report says.