Long Grove leaders optimistic about downtown's future

Long Grove village board members say a continuing mess from road construction and other work should be viewed as a sign of progress for the downtown.

Elected officials addressed the state of downtown after a resident raised the issue at a village board meeting last week.

Construction crews have been in downtown Long Grove since spring, first tackling a public water main extension on Old McHenry Road as part of a $3.8 million project. That was followed by Old McHenry Road reconstruction and other work expected to continue until fall, including installing a new traffic signal at Robert Parker Coffin Road, handicapped-accessible sidewalks and lighting.

Adding to the downtown's lack of pizzazz, barricades went up on both sides of the one-lane covered bridge after a rented box truck smashed into it June 27, two weeks after the village got it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's been closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic since then.

Despite the current appearance of the downtown, Trustee Bobbie O'Reilly said she's excited about what's happening. She said the removal of dilapidated stairs from the Farmside Country Store and Winery at Old McHenry and Coffin roads, which closed in 2011, is noteworthy progress.

Trustee Anne Kritzmire said work is being done by the village's advisory economic development commission to attract restaurants and other businesses offering "things you can't buy on the internet."

"It's a mess right now," Kritzmire said, "but to me it feels like the mess before you have a really good house cleaning, like where everything gets worse before it gets better."

Village President Bill Jacob said some vacant downtown properties have been purchased and noted Buffalo Creek Brewing and Long Grove Confectionery Co. have filled vacant buildings in the last year or so, and Fred Astaire Dance Studio moved into a new building. He also said the village has started building code enforcement downtown.

"I think there's a lot of things you can't see that are going on," Jacob said. "You've probably got to give it another year or two. Once all this construction is done, it's going to look totally different. It's not where we'd like it to be, but I think we're headed in the right direction."

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  Barricades went up on both sides of the historic one-lane covered bridge on Robert Parker Coffin Road in downtown Long Grove after a rented box truck smashed into it June 27. Bob Susnjara/
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