Huntley Village Board renames portion of Kreutzer Road over family, resident opposition
Despite opposition from the Kreutzer family and a petition signed by more than 200 residents, the Huntley Village Board voted Thursday to rename Kreutzer Road, west of Route 47, to Charles H. Sass Parkway.
The name change sought to recognize Sass' 20 years as the village's mayor after Sass lost his April reelection bid to then-Trustee Timothy Hoeft. The east part of the road will remain Kreutzer.
When Linda Byrne, a member of family whose maiden name is Kreutzer, heard on Tuesday of the village's plans to rename part of the road, she said it made her sick.
"It's a complete shock," she told the Northwest Herald before Thursday's board meeting.
The Kreutzer family first settled in Huntley in 1868, and both Linda and her husband, Bill Byrne, said they've been hardworking members of the community ever since. Members of the Kreutzer family were founding members of St. Mary Catholic Church, and the Kreutzer homestead continues to be a working farm, resided on by members of the family.
One Kreutzer family member, Paul, became vice president of Huntley State Bank and gave personal loans to people in the community during the Great Depression, Bill Byrne said.
Frances Kreutzer, Linda Byrne's mother, was also well known in the village, in the church and for her cake-making skills.
"My wife's family has the deepest loyalty that I have ever seen in anybody," Bill Byrne said.
The Kreutzer family said they had no problem with naming something after Sass, saying he deserves the honor. However, they wish the village had found a different street or road.
Village officials and trustees said the intent behind renaming the road was never to insult the Kreutzers, but rather to honor Sass, whom they called instrumental in building that part of the road.
Trustee Ronda Goldman was the only trustee who voted no.
The west side of the road, which is the part being renamed, was built in the 2000s. Extending the road cost about $6.5 million, village manager Dave Johnson said.
"(Sass) spent a considerable amount of time working toward finding funding for the road," Johnson said. "The mayor worked hard to bring in dollars from outside the community to offset those costs."
"There was never any intention to upset the family," Johnson said.
Kreutzer family members said they were not notified ahead of time of the name change. Bill Byrne said a friend texted him about it Tuesday night when he saw the meeting agenda.
In hindsight, Johnson said, it would have been a good idea to notify family members sooner.
A petition to keep the west end of Kreutzer Road's name the same began this week. It garnered over 200 signatures in less than 38 hours.
Along with what they said were the historic consequences of changing the road, also angering some residents was the fact that signs dubbing the stretch Charles H. Sass Parkway were put up even before trustees officially approved the name change.
"Government officials discuss things, they discuss them, consider them and then vote on them," said Donna Britton, chair of Huntley's Historic Preservation Commission. "Only, this has already been acted upon, and now it's going to get discussed. It's like they're putting the cart before the horse."
Johnson said this will not happen again. Signs were put up "out of sequence," he said after the meeting, because the village had been trying to keep the name change as a surprise for Sass.
"The idea was that we were moving forward with it," Johnson said. "I will stand by our record in being extremely transparent. ... I will tell you that hasn't ever been an issue with the village, nor do I expect it to be moving forward."
Goldman, who said she knew Frances Kreutzer, said she originally came into the meeting with her mind made up, but after hearing the family's public comments, she was ambivalent.
"Part of me would like to think about delaying it and discussing it internally, and the other part of me is willing to go along with my fellow trustees," she said.
Johnson said no addresses, other than one of the village's facilities, are located along that portion of the road.
Despite the Kreutzer family's disappointment in how the village board and officials handled the name change, Linda Byrne said they were happy with the amount of support they got from the community at large, who signed the petition and reached out to them.