Lake County mayors review 2016 accomplishments and look ahead to 2017
Mayors of villages in Lake County are pretty quick to point to a host of accomplishments by their village boards in 2016.
Attracting economic development, resurfacing roads, finding ways to improve local government efficiency and creating new programs to help residents are among the highlights.
But 2016 is about to become history and there's no time to rest on laurels. A new year is about to begin, and with it will come expectations of new ways to improve their communities. Village officials will have to answer that most important of residents' questions: "What have you done for us lately."
Below are comments from Lake County mayors on what they considered their village's most important accomplishments of 2016 as well as what they'd like to accomplish in 2017.
Larry Hanson, Antioch
Accomplishments in 2016: The village board approved another 500,000-square-foot industrial building in the Antioch Business Park and several new large commercial expansions have started. These expansions include Kunes Ford and Skipper Buds along the Route 173 corridor. The village also retained the services of Retail Strategies to focus on recruitment of national and regional retailers. A new downtown facade program was approved to assist businesses in restoring their historic storefronts and buildings.
Look ahead to 2017: The village has seen substantial new interest in the housing market. D.R. Horton is starting a project in the Clublands subdivision and the village anticipates 2017 will see Antioch as one of the most active new housing markets in Lake County. This, along with refinancing the bonds and reducing special service area taxes in the Clublands and Neuhaven subdivisions, will make Antioch an attractive residential community in Lake County.
Karen Darch, Barrington
In 2016, Barrington was proud to reach the Barrington White House community and cultural center capital campaign fundraising goal of $6.8 million in pledges and gifts from generous individuals, community organizations, businesses and foundations. In 2017, Barrington will invest in infrastructure that enhances traffic safety and increases the reliability of our sanitary sewer system.
Martin McLaughlin, Barrington Hills
In 2016, Barrington Hills reduced the tax levy, while increasing the village's cash reserves, and accomplishing more roadway improvements per year than had been done in the prior 10 years. In addition, the village budget has been reduced from $8.4 million in 2013 to $7.5 million forecast for 2017, with village spending again projected to be below what was budgeted, as operational efficiencies continue to benefit our residents. Our village finalized the construction of our largest capital project in village history -- the former Cuba Road Bridge, which we have named Veterans Crossing Bridge to honor those men and women in uniform who protect our freedoms. In 2017, we will be communicating with owners of large parcels of land bordering our community in an attempt to reclaim rural open space acreage lost under the prior administration. We will be rolling out a new village website which will make it easier for residents to get the necessary information, records and permits required directly from our site, as well as providing a Village Lifestyle section where current and future residents can be introduced to all of the events, organizations, clubs, and freedoms that rural open space living with limited government oversight affords in Barrington Hills.
Beverly Sussman, Buffalo Grove
In 2016, it was exciting to host our first Buffalo Grove Days at its new location in Mike Rylko Park. We were also very happy to welcome several new and expanding businesses to our community, including Therm Flo, Inc. and Zonatherm headquarters, ConnexionES expansion, a new retail center on Milwaukee Avenue and Deerfield, Metro Storage, and an addition to Burdeen's Jewelry, plus more than $60 million dollars in investment in our community. 2017 will be a very exciting year with the construction of the new Woodman's grocery store in Buffalo Grove. In addition, we will be kicking off the Lake Cook Corridor Market Study and Plan to take advantage of the corridor's strong visibility, mix of land uses and opportunities for development. We also look forward to developing a newsletter for our businesses and exploring a regional job retention and creation partnership to assist with business growth in our community.
Donny Schmit, Fox Lake
Accomplishments in 2016: With the cooperation of several groups, we established a community garden. We also operate a very transparent government in Fox Lake. In addition to the annual town hall meeting, we have put our village board packets online so residents can participate in the decision making process.
Look ahead to 2017: I am proud of improvements in our community development department. We have made the process for our residents and developers much more streamlined and user friendly. We look forward to increased development in 2017.
Bernard Wysocki, Green Oaks
Accomplishments in 2016: Green Oaks' most decorated accomplishments are the three large projects now underway: The Sheridan at Green Oaks Senior Living at Waukegan and Atkinson roads, formerly known as the Hilltop property; The Green Oaks Commons Commercial Center on the property of The Sheridan at Green Oaks Senior Living; and Green Oaks Senior Living at 14595 West Rockland Road, formerly known as Jamaican Gardens. Both senior facilities are expected to open in the spring and the Retail Commons Commercial Center is ready for occupancy.
Look ahead to 2017: The village is looking forward to the opening of these new developments and future projects within the village's TIF District, all of which are sure to have a remarkable impact on our community.
Rhett Taylor, Grayslake
Accomplishments in 2016: The village continues to be debt free and have a balanced budget. We froze the village's portion of the property tax levy. WalletHub ranked Grayslake number 2 on its list of "Best Illinois Cities for Jobs" and Niche.com ranked us as one of the "Top 10 Illinois Suburbs to Live In." The police department had its national accreditation renewed. Our capital program made significant investments, specifically downtown, including the purchase of the old Grayslake Gelatin Factory.
Look ahead to 2017: We plan to maintain our strong financial position, continue to invest in economic development, welcome additional businesses to our town, and renovate the Gelatin Factory property.
Kristina Kovarik, Gurnee
Accomplishments in 2016: The village introduced a new logo to begin an emphasis on innovative thinking, shifting our focus to capital investment and engaging the community digitally. We launched our Facebook page to continue efforts to be more transparent and keep residents and businesses better informed. This is our 16th year without a village property tax. Work on the Richard A. Welton Village Plaza is progressing. We had some major economic development wins with Floor & Décor, Little Lady Food and Nypro expansion.
Look ahead to 2017: We will launch a new and redesigned website to adjust our operations to meet the needs of our customers. The Walkability Committee will propose recommendations to make the village more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Work will begin for the Knowles Road water tower, more road reconstruction and rehabilitation, and the Grand/Hwy 41 Railroad Bridge reconstruction dovetailing with revitalization efforts in the East Grand corridor
Linda Soto, Hainesville
Accomplishments in 2016: New baby oak trees were planted in the Cranberry Lake woodlands by volunteers with the help of National Honor Society members of Round Lake and Grayslake Central high schools. The plantings replaced several mature oaks that were destroyed by the Aug. 2, 2015 tornado. Hainesville's first full-scale Civil War Encampment & Battle was held Sept. 10 and 11. This was a hugely successful and fun event that gave residents a personal appreciation of a key moment in our nation's history.
Look ahead to 2017: Continued tornado restoration work in woodlands and wetlands beyond our perpetual stewardship commitment to these areas. Conducting a second Civil War Encampment & Battle on Sept. 16 and 17. Participating in the Environmental Impact Study for the IL Route 53/120 Extension that will provide fact-based information. State leadership will be able to engage with local businesses and residents to understand their level of support for the project.
Joe Mancino, Hawthorn Woods
Accomplishments in 2016: We successfully educated our residents on the negative impacts a potential Route 53 expansion through our region would create. Through research, public outreach and lobbying efforts, we have been able to better identify the financial and environmental impacts thus effecting the stakeholder base. We continue to work with local and regional legislators, the governor's office, and our internal task force on this most important issue.
Look ahead to 2017: A robust growth in housing, with several new developments coming to our Midlothian Road corridor area. I also look forward to implementation of our new priority based budgeting strategy. As data grows each year, it will provide a framework to better allocate resources to fit with priorities and future needs identified by the community.
Charles Amrich, Island Lake
Accomplishments in 2016: We have "retired" a 30-year-old software system and replaced it with a system that will help us better serve residents. Attendance at and participation in all of our free, family friendly community events has increased -- Concerts in the Park, 4th of July Picnic, Lakefest, and holiday tree lighting.
Look ahead to 2017: We look forward to continuing our efforts to replace old water mains and to resurface at least 1.5 miles of village streets.
Nandia Black, Kildeer
Accomplishments in 2016: The village of Kildeer approved a new 180,000-square-foot shopping center to be located on Rand Road between the Kildeer Marketplace (Whole Foods) and Shops at Kildeer. Construction of the center is underway and retailers are now working to build out the interiors of the stores in anticipation of opening in the first quarter of 2017.
Look ahead to 2017: In the spring, the village of Kildeer is looking forward to welcoming the following retailers: Nordstrom Rack, Forever 21, Nike, Sierra Trading Co., Discount Shoe Warehouse, Jos A Bank, and Art Van. Also joining the retailers in the Kildeer Village Square are an Uncle Julio's restaurant and Café Zupa. These new businesses will greatly increase the attractiveness of the Rand Road commercial corridor and establish Kildeer as a shopping destination.
Kevin Richardson, Lake Barrington
2016 saw three important, and interrelated, accomplishments in Lake Barrington. First, we installed a pedestrian path along Pepper Road in our business park that allows visitors, shoppers, and employees based in the park to walk, jog or cycle safely. Second, we have completed a redesign of the village website. Third, and for the third year in a row, we have continued to provide the important day-to-day services that our residents deserve without an increase in the village's residential property tax levy.
(In 2017) we look forward to both welcoming a new Speedway development at the corner of U.S. Route 14 and Kelsey Road, and to completing the update of our Comprehensive Plan.
Thomas Poynton, Lake Zurich
Accomplishments in 2016: Allowing service levels to remain high amid lower-than-expected expenditures is part of the reason we continue to sustain a AAA bond rating. Developer interest has increased dramatically with several potential agreements slated for review. We continue to expand efforts at increased resident and business engagement and participation in government. We continue to enhance our special event packages and annual holiday celebrations to involve more of the community.
Look ahead to 2017: Continue to focus on reinventing government by slashing through needless bureaucratic red tape and antiquated regulations that do more to shackle progress than enhance the quality of life. Fine tune our initiatives to provide permitting, planning and licensing services more efficiently. Continue delivering high quality core services while keeping costs minimized. We will continue to focus on actively pursuing new business opportunities.
Terry Wepler, Libertyville
Accomplishments in 2016: The new parking garage to be completed in early January will provide parking for the many residents and visitors. We have worked with BECO on redevelopment of the Motorola campus that will provide a full service employment center for new businesses. We completed the village survey and began the strategic plan based on input from residents. We completed an infrastructure survey to determine road needs for the coming years and completed the fourth year of the road referendum road improvements. We hired a new village administrator to replace Kevin Bowens, who retires after 25 years.
Look ahead to 2017: Reconstruction of the Libertyville Train Station to provide a better entry point for visitors arriving by rail. The plans will provide a greatly upgraded facade, more waiting space and washrooms for travelers. We also look forward to completing the strategic plan to provide long-term direction. I also look forward to continued success in bringing new businesses into the community.
Elizabeth Brandt, Lincolnshire
Accomplishments in 2016: Lincolnshire focused on economic development and attracting new businesses. We welcomed Strawberry Field, Marigold Maison, Culver's, Loft 21, Athletico and a major renovation of Regal Cinema. I am proud of Lincolnshire's strong fiscal condition, which includes a balanced budget, flat 2.41 property tax rate the past five years, $2.05 million/8.2 percent reduction in approved FY2017 budget from FY2016 and almost 90 percent funding of police pension fund.
Look ahead to 2017: I look forward to making Lincolnshire a more desirable "place to find your space" to live, work and play. The board will continue to protect schools and residential areas, preserving our small-town atmosphere while continuing to grow and strengthen our commercial/retail/office base. We hope to fill remaining parcels on the downtown triangle and construct a pocket park. We will use a grant to enhance/beautify the path area from village hall to the Des Plaines River bridge.
Dominic Marturano, Lindenhurst
Accomplishments in 2016: We continued to make great progress on construction related to our Lake Michigan water project. We completed Beck Road resurfacing project, which is a key thoroughfare in our main residential area. We extended utilities to the southeast corner of town to support commercial growth.
Look ahead to 2017: The completion of our Lake Michigan water project. This had been a multiyear effort, but will be well worth the wait. Our first car dealership in Lindenhurst (Ziegler Auto Group) will open its doors in 2017. Besides the sales tax revenue the village will receive, I am hopeful other businesses will follow suit and locate to the southeast corner of the village.
Angie Underwood, Long Grove
Accomplishments in 2016: The extension of our village water system into the historical downtown. This has brought better quality water from our municipal deep well to properties that were previously not served by water, and some that were only served by shallow, private wells. This has helped to attract a new craft brewery and several potential new restaurants. We anticipate a connection in the near future to Lake Michigan water, by working cooperatively with the village of Buffalo Grove.
Look ahead to 2017: The start of infrastructure improvements that have been in the planning process for many years. Lake County is slated to start work on Old McHenry Road in the downtown crossroads, including sidewalk, lighting and streetscaping enhancements, and a traffic signal. I anticipate further expansion of our municipal water system in the historic downtown. And I look forward to input and direction from residents, through open houses and public hearing participation regarding reconstruction of our iconic covered bridge.
Casey Urlacher, Mettawa
Accomplishments for 2016: We maintained our corporate tax levy in the same amount for the 18th consecutive year. Our comprehensive plan was thoroughly reviewed and an update was approved by the village board. The final village road in our Five Year Capital Improvement Plan was resurfaced, resulting in no need for village road projects for at least 10 years.
Look ahead to 2017: I look forward to the continued improvements of several village parks and open space areas that began in 2016. We also plan to complete a comprehensive review of the village zoning code and to complete a portion of the village's trail system.
Steve Lentz, Mundelein
Accomplishments in 2016: It was an incredible year for Mundelein road construction and repair, as more than $20 million was invested. Projects included the Hawley Street Reconstruction, repaving Route 45 through downtown, and rebuilding the intersection at Route 176 and 60/83. Economic development efforts included a second Jewel-Osco in the former Dominick's space and Panera Bread broke ground and will open in 2017.
Look ahead to 2017: Next year will bring several downtown redevelopment projects further along the pipeline. The 130-unit mixed-use Mega Realty development across from village hall should break ground. Springbank (Development Company) should solidify plans to break ground on a mix of residential products on the former US Music property. Our Downtown North Implementation Plan will be presented to the public, and staff will use the strategies as a blueprint for downtown redevelopment.
Dan MacGillis, Round Lake
Accomplishments in 2016: Several infrastructure improvements, including reconstruction of the main Metra parking lot, resurfacing Nippersink Road, N. Rosedale Court and Hillside Drive, and completion of the new MacGillis St. Bridge project. Lake County Division of Transportation has allocated $3.1 million for phase 1 engineering of the Cedar Lake Road realignment. Our first monthly electronic newsletter was published in September. A human resource officer has been added to administration.
Look ahead to 2017: Implementation of a strategic plan to assist and guide the village's future is the next step of our new comprehensive plan. Maximize economic development by annexing business, land and market village-owned property to strengthen and diversify the village's tax base. Complete a staffing analysis and new compensation plan to restructure departments based on talent, skill set, and customer service needs, including cross-training staff members.
Richard H. Hill
Richard H. Hill, Round Lake Beach
Accomplishments in 2016: We rebuilt or resurfaced more than 10 miles of roads this year in the older section of town. The new roads give the neighborhoods a renewed sense of pride and safer conditions for the vehicles and pedestrians.
Look ahead to 2017: Keeping the state government from taking our funds. Illinois needs to solve their budget problem without destroying our budget. As board chairman for Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency, I look forward to providing Lake Michigan water to residents in Lake Villa, Lindenhurst and more areas in unincorporated Lake County in 2017 and Volo and Wauconda in 2018.
Terry Lumpkins, Round Lake Heights
Accomplishments in 2016: The village of Round Lake Heights Veterans Memorial Park is completed and the landscaping will be added this spring. The village has bought our third house, 1801 Pontiac Court, to renovate and resell for our "Dollars for Scholars" program that started in 2004. The village has awarded 199 scholarships totaling $123,500. One accomplishment I am most proud of is our budget -- we have been debt free over the years.
Look ahead to 2017: A couple accomplishments we are working on the expansion our water system to help develop the property on Rollins Road and Fairfield Road for commercial property. We received a $50,000 grant to hire a planner to help develop this property.
Linda Lucassen, Round Lake Park
Accomplishments in 2016: The village put up new streetlights on Main Street. We finished the village hall front office remodel to better serve our community and an ATM was installed at the front entrance. The police department added a new electronic sign paid for with the proceeds of various fundraisers. In the summer, the village hall opened its doors for the Illinois Junior Chefs Summer Cooking Camp, a nutritional program for young people sponsored by Illinois Nutrition Education Programs and 4-H.
Look ahead to 2017: We look forward to implementing a new housing development program we hope will help the village acquire, rehab and flip abandoned properties. Village hall is expanding and we will add a new position for the new housing development program. We plan to add a nutritional program for seniors much like the program in existence for children. We plan to add a page dedicated to area businesses to our website with links to their websites, Google Map, Facebook and other social media outlets.
David Parro, Tower Lakes
Tower Lakes is proud to have celebrated our 50th anniversary of incorporation in September 2016. In 2017, we are looking forward to commencing work on a multimillion dollar upgrade to our municipal water delivery system funded with a low interest state loan, as well as a significant stormwater management demonstration project funded by a federal grant.
Roger Byrne, Vernon Hills
Accomplishments in 2016: More than 1,500 residents responded to our National Citizen Survey questions on our website. Ninety-four percent of respondents feel they enjoy a high quality of life in town. A majority also rated the sense of community as excellent or good, and nearly all would recommend living in Vernon Hills.
Look ahead to 2017: It will be another challenging year, but one constant will be the village's continued solvency. Our surplus is more than $20 million. Our town has never had a municipal property tax and that won't change. We will be there to help the park, school, library and fire districts in the spirit of intergovernmental cooperation. Our AAA bond rating is alive and well. Our sales tax will expand in the future by another $1.5 million with the completion of Menards and Mellody Farms in the next couple of years.
Stephen R. Henley
Stephen Henley, Volo
Accomplishments in 2016: Provided property tax relief to our residents by refinancing the bonds associated with the various special service areas within the village. The refinancing allowed the village to take advantage of low interest rates and reduce the total debit service by approximately $7.5 million. Our residents will save on average 10 percent to 15 percent annually on the special tax portion of their property tax bill.
Look ahead to 2017: CalAtlantic, formerly Ryland Homes, will begin construction on Remington Pointe North, a 289-unit subdivision at Route 12 and Brandenburg Road. The development includes 200 single-family homes and 89 maintenance-free units targeted to the 55-and-older homebuyer. At build-out, it is projected to generate $750,000 annually in new property tax revenue for Big Hollow District 38 and Grant High School District 124. The districts also will receive about $900,000 in school impact fees.