Rogina delivers final City Update to St. Charles Chamber
After more than 40 years of hosting the mayor's annual City Update forum, this was a first for the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce's legislative committee.
Not only was Mayor Ray Rogina, who announced last week he won't seek reelection to a third term, delivering his final update, but Tuesday's event at the Hilton Garden Inn was the chamber's first City Update since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March. While highlighting the city's achievements and goals in front of a blend of an in-person and virtual audience, Rogina and longtime Ward 1 Alderman Dan Stellato noted the challenges the city faces.
"It's been a rough time, but I think we'll get through this together," Rogina said. "St. Charles will stand tall when it's all over with."
The event was also a farewell to Rogina, a retired high-school teacher who served as an alderman from 2011 until the first of two successful mayoral runs in 2013. Stellato, who has attended the Chamber City Update for about 30 years, paid tribute to Rogina.
"This is a little bit bittersweet this year because this is Ray's last year," Stellato said.
The forum focused on business development throughout the city, from incoming auto dealerships on Randall Road and at the former Pheasant Run Resort property, to the struggle to keep Charlestowne Mall -- "sitting there like a beached whale," Rogina said -- a viable shopping option.
There was also uncertainty about the future of the former police station site on N. Riverside Avenue and a potential gas station at the corner of Kirk Road and Route 64.
Then there's the "Manor Hole" project on S. 1st Street along the western bank of the Fox River. Because that area has such a visible profile, Rogina stressed the need to create a "finishing touch" worthy of its location.
"Let's see if we can't move this forward to the next stage, which is the filling of that hole, buttressing of that retaining wall and then this will make it the jewel of downtown, which we've always anticipated it to be," Rogina said.
Rogina closed by thanking many people and city entities for their support throughout his tenure, especially during the pandemic.
"Let's get through this COVID year and this budget year, and I think the future of St. Charles is so bright it's unbelievable in terms of what can happen here over the course of the next five years and 10 years," he said.