Northwest suburban mayors look back on 2016, ahead to 2017
As 2016 comes to a close, we asked Northwest suburban mayors to to look back on something their community accomplished in the past year and look ahead at something they hope to accomplish in 2017. Here are their replies, in some cases edited for length.
Tom Hayes, Arlington Heights:
A very busy and productive 2016 was capped by a number of special holiday events that reflected the family focus of our community, the vibrancy of our business climate, and our volunteer spirit.
In particular, the Chamber of Commerce's Holiday Twilight Shopping event, the Special Events Commission/park district's Tree Lighting Ceremony, the Historical Museum's Festival of the Wreaths, the village's Holiday Happenings event at Harmony Park, and the Rotary Santa Run are just a few examples of what makes Arlington Heights the largest small town in America.
In 2017, we look forward to working together with all of our community partners to further enhance the quality of life we enjoy in Arlington Heights. A major focus of the village board and staff will be long-term infrastructure investment highlighted by the start of construction of a new police station that will meet the needs of both our police department and our community for many decades to come.
Karen Darch, Barrington:
In 2016, Barrington was proud to reach the Barrington White House community and cultural center capital campaign fundraising goal of $6.8 million in pledges and gifts from generous individuals, community organizations, businesses and foundations.
In 2017, Barrington will invest in infrastructure that enhances traffic safety and increases the reliability of our sanitary sewer system.
Martin McLaughlin, Barrington Hills:
In 2016, Barrington Hills reduced the tax levy, while increasing the village's cash reserves, and accomplishing more roadway improvements per year than had been done in the prior 10 years.
In addition, the village budget has been reduced from $8.4 million in 2013 to $7.5 million forecast for 2017, with village spending again projected to be below what was budgeted, as operational efficiencies continue to benefit our residents.
Our village finalized the construction of our largest capital project in village history -- the former Cuba Road Bridge, which we have named Veterans Crossing Bridge to honor those men and women in uniform who protect our freedoms.
In 2017, we will be communicating with owners of large parcels of land bordering our community in an attempt to reclaim rural open space acreage lost under the prior administration. We will be rolling out a new village website, which will make it easier for residents to get the necessary information, records and permits required directly from our site, as well as providing a Village Lifestyle section, where current and future residents can be introduced to all of the events, organizations, clubs and freedoms that rural open space living with limited government oversight affords in Barrington Hills.
Beverly Sussman, Buffalo Grove:
In 2016, it was exciting to host our first Buffalo Grove Days at its new location in Mike Rylko Park. We were also very happy to welcome several new and expanding businesses to our community, including Therm Flo Inc. and Zonatherm headquarters, ConnexionES expansion, a new retail center on Milwaukee Avenue and Deerfield, Metro Storage, and an addition to Burdeen's Jewelry, plus more than $60 million in investment in our community.
2017 will be a very exciting year with the construction of the new Woodman's grocery store in Buffalo Grove. In addition, we will be kicking off the Lake Cook Corridor Market Study and Plan to take advantage of the corridor's strong visibility, mix of land uses and opportunities for development.
We also look forward to developing a newsletter for our businesses and exploring a regional job retention and creation partnership to assist with business growth in our community.
Matt Bogusz, Des Plaines:
I'm proud to report that our team's revitalized approach to economic development is creating an environment where business can succeed.
From our new Mariano's to Vetter Pharmaceutical, we are creating new jobs and places for our community to come together. On a personal note, Kate and I were thrilled to welcome our first child, Jacqueline, to Des Plaines on Dec. 22.
In 2017, we will begin to execute our plan to open our downtown Des Plaines Theater thanks to a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership with Rivers Casino. It will serve as a cornerstone for our downtown, helping to attract new businesses to our newly created Downtown Restaurant District.
Craig Johnson, Elk Grove Village:
After nearly eight years, Elk Grove Village finalized construction on the long-awaited Busse Dam Modification. For the first time in Illinois history, two counties were brought together on a project that will bring flood relief to over a million people and thousands of businesses along the Salt Creek Watershed in both Cook and DuPage counties.
Additionally, the village hosted a number of hugely successful events as part of its 60th anniversary celebration in 2016. On July 17, as part of the birthday celebration, we hosted a free concert featuring Foreigner that was attended by nearly 25,000 people.
As we end 2016, we've seen our vacancy rate for the business park drop from a high of 12.5 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent today -- an absorption of nearly 5 million square feet.
On top of all of that, we have several significant developments that we've been working on that we are hoping come to fruition next year, which could bring several billion dollars more in development opportunities to Elk Grove Village.
Rod Craig, Hanover Park:
The Village of Hanover Park showed fiscal health and accountability in 2016, resulting in a balanced budget with (no) tax increase and no increase in water and sewer rates for 2017. All this was done while maintaining strong public safety values with a low Part 1 Crime rate and our fire department earning a ISO2 rating.
The Village of Hanover Park will continue to focus on community and economic development by implementing the senior living development at 900 W. Irving Park Road, successfully partnering with Habitat for Humanity-DuPage in the Greenbrook-Tanglewood area and the grand opening of the County Farm Road Bridge that connects Mallard Lake and Hawk Hollow Forest Preserves.
William McLeod, Hoffman Estates:
The village welcomed several new developments to The 59-90 Entertainment District in 2016, which included Main Event, a family entertainment center, and Duluth Trading Company, an outdoor and work apparel company. The Chicago Bulls Development League team, the Windy City Bulls, kicked off their inaugural season at the Sears Centre Arena on Nov. 11.
In 2017, the community plans to continue the momentum of growth and development with the completion of the I-90 and Barrington Road interchange, new retailers for the community to patronize and more great events and services for the residents to enjoy.
Kevin Richardson, Lake Barrington:
2016 saw three important, and interrelated, accomplishments in Lake Barrington. First, we installed a pedestrian path along Pepper Road in our business park that allows visitors, shoppers, and employees based in the park to walk, jog or cycle safely. Second, we have completed a redesign of the village website. Third, and for the third year in a row, we have continued to provide the important day-to-day services that our residents deserve without an increase in the village's residential property tax levy.
(In 2017) we look forward to both welcoming a new Speedway development at the corner of Route 14 and Kelsey Road, and to completing the update of our Comprehensive Plan.
Angie Underwood, Long Grove:
The extension of our village water system into the historical downtown. This has brought better quality water from our municipal deep well to properties that were previously not served by water, and some that were only served by shallow, private wells.
This has helped to attract a new craft brewery and several potential new restaurants. We anticipate a connection in the near future to Lake Michigan water by working cooperatively with the village of Buffalo Grove.
(Looking to 2017), the start of infrastructure improvements that have been in the planning process for many years. Lake County is slated to start work on Old McHenry Road in the downtown crossroads, including sidewalk, lighting and streetscaping enhancements, and a traffic signal.
I anticipate further expansion of our municipal water system in the historic downtown. And I look forward to input and direction from residents through open houses and public hearing participation regarding reconstruction of our iconic covered bridge.
Arlene Juracek, Mount Prospect:
In 2016, the Village of Mount Prospect demonstrated its ability to responsibly seize on economic opportunity when we announced that, for the first time in recent memory, our retail sales tax revenues exceed our property tax revenues.
The renewed energy and strategic focus of our staff, coupled with positive and productive relationships with our business community, are evident in the international recognition enjoyed by the Mount Prospect Entrepreneurs Initiative and the number of redevelopment projects planned and underway in the village.
In 2017, Mount Prospect celebrates its centennial as a vibrant community in which its families and business stakeholders want to live work and play, and we hope to bring to completion several highly visible projects such as the redevelopment of the northwest corner of Central and Main.
As we enter our second century, we expect to build on community engagement to ensure Mount Prospect reflects the best of suburban qualities -- adaptive and future-focused, while respecting tradition and fiscal responsibility.
Jim Schwantz, Palatine:
The completion of the village hall remodel project in 2016 is something the entire village should be proud of. The remodeled building will be an asset to the community for years to come.
(In 2017, we will) continue to lobby county and state officials for financial reforms to ensure continuity of village operations and minimize any impact on the village's finances and property tax rate.
Nick Helmer, Prospect Heights:
Our progress this past year in Prospect Heights has not only been great -- it has been fantastic! Our income is in sync with our expenses with a balanced budget and more than adequate reserves. But, most of all, our success with our Economic Development Program took the lead with results that have never been experienced in our city before.
We launched a $100 million program of new developments and rehabbed facilities that are currently 80 percent complete, with full completions scheduled by May of next year.
Our plan is to continue this trend for a long time to come. Prosperity is our middle name.
Brad Stephens, Rosemont:
The Village of Rosemont is proud to be wrapping up our 60th anniversary of tremendous development with entertainment venues that continue to benefit the people of Rosemont and the region, welcoming millions of people each year, and we are looking forward to continued development of our existing entertainment, shopping and hospitality related business in 2017.
Al Larson, Schaumburg:
The completion of the new Meacham Road interchange and the opening of the new $300-plus million Zurich North American Headquarters are big achievements for Schaumburg.
The update to the Comprehensive Plan in 2017 will lay the framework for the continued growth and investment in Schaumburg for the next 20 years. Go Cubs!
Paula McCombie, South Barrington:
In 2016, some of the things that I am proud we accomplished is that we further unified our village by incorporating parcels of land contiguous to our borders, increased community input and involvement by holding monthly town-hall meetings with our subdivisions, and installed a well in the Conservancy to monitor the aquifer level that most of our residents use for the water supply in their homes.
In 2017, some of my goals include continuing the upgrading of our roads and parkway trees, seeking out developers who can properly develop the remaining vacant parcels in a way that will continue to enhance South Barrington, and working with the Arboretum of South Barrington and other businesses in town to increase their success so that we can decrease or continue to keep our village's share of the residential real estate taxes flat.
David Parro, Tower Lakes:
Tower Lakes is proud to have celebrated our 50th anniversary of incorporation in September 2016.
In 2017, we are looking forward to commencing work on a multimillion dollar upgrade to our municipal water delivery system funded with a low interest state loan, as well as a significant stormwater management demonstration project funded by a federal grant.
Dean Argiris, Wheeling:
Progress can manifest itself in subtle and unexpected ways, and Wheeling's clearest symbol of success for 2016 is a traffic light.
After years of complex coordination at the federal, state and local levels, a new traffic signal is finally operating at the intersection of Dundee Road and Community Boulevard.
Along with other significant improvements made this year to the Dundee corridor, the signal will help reduce congestion while providing safe and convenient access to the post office, the village hall, the park district's great facilities, and, eventually, to Wheeling Town Center, the transit-oriented, mixed-used development that just broke ground next to the Metra station.
The village has an ambitious agenda for 2017 -- which includes ongoing flood-control initiatives, continued international outreach in partnership with the Korean Cultural Center, and major upgrades to services for our senior population.
But the most visible accomplishment will be significant progress on the construction of Wheeling Town Center.