What would you like in downtown Huntley?

Everyone loves the gazebo on the square, but what else would you like to see in downtown Huntley?

Village planners want to know, and they've invited local residents and business owners to weigh in at a "Downtown Revitalization" workshop, set for 6 p.m. today, Sept. 2, at the village hall.

"It was a goal of the village board in the 2009-10 fiscal budget," says Charles Nordman, the village's senior planner.

Huntley will pay $50,000 to Naperville-based consulting firm Houseal- Lavigne to develop "a long-range revitalization program (that will) serve to enhance and clearly define downtown Huntley."

Today's community workshop is "really a precursor before they actually start preparing the plan," Nordman says. The brainstorming session will explain past city plans, receive public input, and incorporate those ideas into a new plan. Invitations were mailed to some "old town" residents, businesses and property owners, but everyone is invited to participate, Nordman says.

"It's essentially creating a wish list for what they would like to see in the downtown."

To get a head start on this project, I headed downtown to ask people what they'd like to see.

"Better parking," said Bob Wozniak, who runs Strode's Furniture on the corner of Main and Church. "Otherwise, they don't need to redirect traffic."

New businesses could be attracted to Route 47, but there are no open storefronts on or near the town square.

"Where would you go? There's not a lot of space," said Ed Kutcher, owner of Main Street Flooring, who would not want to see the street widened. Traffic may be congested, but that's not always bad for business, he observed.

"When cars move slowly, they have time to look around and see what's here. If they widened Main Street, we'd lose our parking and that would not be good."

"I think we need a good bakery downtown," said Lenore Eck, and her husband, Alan, agreed.

"I mean a real bakery, not just a Dunkin' Donut. With good coffee cakes, rolls, pastries, things like that," Lenore Eck added.

"We live on the west side of town, so we need a sidewalk to get across the railroad tracks," said Jennifer Hartman, who was enjoying an early dinner at the Village Inn with her children, five-year-old Sophia and Dylan, 18 months. "We like downtown, but we can't get to it too well."

"More parking spaces, so people can get in and out easier," suggests Louis Abdullai, owner of Luigi's Pizza on the west side of the square, who joined our lively discussion at the American Legion hall on Coral Street. His idea? Replace the old village hall with a parking lot.

Dan Ziller is a lifelong Huntley resident and, like others at the Legion, he's skeptical that "redevelopment" will destroy its small-town character.

"This is the 'Friendly Village With Country Charm.' I don't know why they want to change it," Ziller said.

For details about the Downtown Redevelopment Plan, contact Charles Nordman at the Huntley Village Hall, 10987 Main St., (847) 669-9600 or visit

Goin' mobile: The Huntley Area Public Library may be expanding soon.

Last week, board members submitted a plan for village approval to install a mobile classroom unit on the east side of the library on Ruth Road. The four-room unit would offer more space for the children's collection, a storytime meeting room, a small staff office and needed storage.

"It will only help in the short term. We still won't have enough space," said board President Jan Schadt.

In 2006, after two failed referendums, the library's program room was converted to bookshelf space. For several years, it has held programs, book sales, and special events at other locations. With an ever-growing population to serve, the library is still overcrowded, Schadt says.

"We know it's a bad time for a tax increase, so this is a temporary solution. We're still going to need more space in the future, but this is needed now," she said.

The library's board and staff members hope that village trustees will give the project a green light, so installation can start before winter.

"I think they will work with us and approve it," Schadt said. "They know how much space we're lacking, and I think they'll be very helpful."

• Send your Huntley area news and events to Diane Ayers at or phone (847) 669-0848.

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