Editorial: Despite health crisis, many local leaders focusing on long-term vision for suburbs
As disruptive as the coronavirus pandemic has been, one source of reassurance has come from local leaders who are rising above the problems of the present to keep a productive focus on the future.
Look in almost any direction throughout the suburbs and you find administrators and elected officials working on projects whose lens is on the long-term, virus or no virus.
For instance, while Elk Grove Village decided to pass on a third year of sponsoring the Bahamas Bowl college football game, that didn't mean community leaders were taking a pass on developing creative ideas to promote their industrial park and consequently strengthen the economic vitality it produces. They discussed this week their offer of $100,000 to support an Olympics team as a means of marketing the business park's "Makers Wanted" theme.
The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics were postponed a year because of the pandemic, and Elk Grove Village leaders saw an opportunity.
"(Olympics teams) have another year now that they have to train, compete and prepare for the Olympics in 2021," Mayor Craig Johnson said. "They need help. They need sponsors. These are American-made athletes competing on American-made teams. What a better partner than the home of American-made products, Elk Grove Village?"
Good question. But almost as gratifying is the thinking about the future that produced it. In various ways, ranging from the conventional to the novel, leaders throughout the suburbs are developing -- if sometimes wrestling with -- ideas for strengthening our communities.
In Naperville, the immediate challenge has been finding the right balance and approach to allowing marijuana sales in town. In East Dundee, officials are working on a possible Tax Increment Finance district to lure a Caterpillar sales center. In Buffalo Grove, they're wrangling with the idea for a TIF proposal intended to revive a struggling area near Lake-Cook Road. Mundelein is working with developer Pulte Homes on a project to add 187 single-family houses on the village's northwest side.
Schaumburg has undertaken a detailed "pandemic recovery" initiative to help businesses operate safely and profitably as reopening expands and to encourage public confidence in patronizing them.
To some extent, of course, these kinds of discussions and proposals are simply what we expect of vigorous, responsive local government. But it's worth noting that, even by pre-COVID-19 standards, local government is not always vigorous and responsive. That we are seeing it in such abundance with all the obstacles evident now is all the more reason to acknowledge leaders throughout our region who won't let a little thing like a global pandemic dampen their energy and their vision for enhancing our suburban quality of life.