Rolling Meadows candidates welcome Bears but fear strain on city services

There's no contested election this spring in Arlington Heights - a critic of possible Bears public subsidies having been tossed from the ballot - but candidates in Rolling Meadows' lone aldermanic race have a lot to say about the team's possible move next door and its effect on their city.

Incumbent Ward 5 Alderman Jon Bisesi and challenger Stefanie Boucher agree that the Bears' redevelopment of the shuttered Arlington Park racetrack would overall be a benefit to their town. But they also worry about the strain on city services on gamedays and emphasized the need to be prepared for what may come.

Bisesi, who is seeking a second term, said it's important for Rolling Meadows to have "a seat at the table" in discussions over the Bears' proposed stadium and mixed-use development, for things like sound barriers or screening for residents who live near Route 53. He also said the city could see savings by leveraging the Arlington Park redevelopment with the city water and sewer replacements that need to be done nearby.

In the past, Arlington Heights gave Rolling Meadows some financial support for police who worked traffic control on busy race days, and Bisesi said that intergovernmental cooperation would be important going forward.

"There are several potential negative impacts: noise, traffic, strain on our services. Things like that. But there's also opportunity for development," Bisesi said during a recent interview with a representative of the Daily Herald Editorial Board. "We have an industrial park right next to Arlington Park that will (benefit) quite a bit I believe by that going in. I do believe that this could mean more restaurants, potentially another hotel, and entertainment options within Rolling Meadows that will help our tax base.

"We need to come up with creative ways of being able to fund additional police, fire and public works support to accommodate it. But as long as we're ahead of the curve and trying to understand and knock down the various issues as we're going through this process, I think it will definitely be overall a good thing for our community."

Boucher, a project manager at Motorola Solutions and former PTA president in local schools, said she's spoken to Rolling Meadows police officers and firefighters who are concerned about the potential uptick in traffic and needs on city services. She said the city needs to work on bringing in more business - specifically, restaurants - for fans to stop at before and after games.

"I think that needs to be a big push for the city council going forward so we don't become a drive-through community," Boucher said. "So, my concern as a resident is we're going to take on the police costs, we're going to take on the fire costs, we're going to take on the traffic control, and we're going to bring nothing in business-wise because there will be nothing for people to stop at."

She said the Bears project is an opportunity for the city.

"I think it's going to be great to have people come in through Rolling Meadows. A lot of people know Arlington Heights. They know Mount Prospect. They know Schaumburg. They kind of don't know our little hidden gem there in the middle," Boucher said. "That gives us a lot of potential to really get on people's radar, especially if we can offer them some accommodations, whether it be hotels or restaurants or places to be. I think this is really going to help Rolling Meadows grow and modernize and move into that same way of our surrounding communities."

There are no other contested races on the April 4 ballot in Rolling Meadows. Nor are there in Palatine, which borders the Bears' new property on the north.

In Arlington Heights, four candidates are running for four open positions on the village board, after public subsidy critic Martin Bauer didn't have enough signatures on his nominating petitions to qualify for the ballot.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.