Villa Park trustee candidates discuss the village's role in economic development
The Villa Park trustee candidates running in Tuesday's election have differing ideas on how to attract more businesses to the village.
Six candidates are vying for three 4-year seats on the village board. They are incumbent Cheryl Tucker and newcomers Deepasriya Kumar, John "Jack" Kozar, John "Jack" Corkery, Marc Bregman and Matthew D'Alessandro.
Economic development was a key issue raised during a recent joint endorsement interview with the Daily Herald.
"All of our surrounding communities continue to grow at a rapid pace," said Bregman, a retired Villa Park police lieutenant.
"For some reason, Villa Park always seems to get left behind."
Kozar, an attorney and co-owner of Fuel bar, has been at odds with Tucker at village board meetings.
This past January, Kozar sought exceptions for zoning and noise ordinances to add a rooftop deck to Fuel and for permission for outdoor entertainment.
But Tucker voted with the majority to deny the expansion and to add time restrictions on any performances.
"Many of the code of ordinances are outdated," Kozar said. "They don't make sense and they don't reflect the lifestyle and the people in Villa Park.
"They all need to be looked at," he added. "They need to be reviewed and they need to be modernized."
Tucker, a mechanical claims specialist, replied that some Villa Park ordinances could be updated. But she said Villa Park has been making efforts to be more business-friendly by relocating all permitting into the same building.
"It's going to be easier for builders to get all the paperwork instead of running all over town," Tucker said. "There was a real problem with that."
But Corkery, a security guard, said Villa Park needed to go further by modernizing its permitting processes to encourage businesses and homeowners to make improvements.
D'Alessandro, an equipment optimization analyst, said one way for Villa Park to attract businesses would be to improve the village's roads, infrastructure and other amenities.
As a former Villa Park lifeguard, D'Alessandro expressed disappointment about the 2019 closure of Lufkin Pool due to high maintenance costs.
Kumar, a professor and lecturer, said she feels communication is key to attracting businesses to Villa Park, especially with materials like brochures to be used as targeted marketing to bring in more family-friendly businesses.
Bregman agreed with the other candidates on efforts for long-term business growth. He noted that the reasons major retailers choose to build in neighboring communities instead of Villa Park should be explored.