Here’s the latest missive delivered in the mail to Lakewood residents:
From the President
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to wish you and your families a Happy New Year.
As a community, we face many of the same challenges confronting individual families and neighboring communities. The economy continues to be sluggish, especially as it relates to the downturn in the residential building sector. Delays in payments from the state of Illinois also present financial challenges. However, 2010 was a historic year for the Village of Lakewood, and we have many reasons to be thankful.
AAA Bond Rating – In May, the Village of Lakewood received its first bond rating from Standard & Poor’s. It was a AAA rating – the highest possible and remarkable for a community of our size with limited commercial development. It is a testament to the long standing conservative financial philosophy of our Board of Trustees and the implementation of that philosophy by our staff.
Annexation – In June, the Village of Lakewood annexed 565 acres of new territory. This action served two primary purposes – to secure a valuable intersection at Illinois Route 47 and 176 for future commercial development and to bring four (4) existing businesses into our community. This action was the culmination of nearly ten (10) years of strategic planning.
Sports Complex – In July, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a detailed Preliminary Plan for a 165 acre sports complex at the intersection of Illinois Route 47 and 176. This approval was predicated upon the developer securing financing and purchasing the land, which has not yet occurred. The Board of Trustees has always understood the uncertainty inherent in a large, private equity venture and has worked diligently and successfully throughout the process to insulate our community from any financial risk.
The Village Board remains strongly committed to commercial development along the Route 47 corridor and we are hopeful that the Sports Complex will be an integral part of our plan. We are also confident that other suitable projects will come forward as the intersection of two major State highways makes this one of the most desirable development locations in the County. Important technical information (i.e. wetland delineations, soil conditions, traffic counts, etc.) that was gained as we prepared for the Sports Complex will be invaluable as we engage in discussions with other developers who have expressed an interest in this area.
Fire Protection Services – Four (4) years ago, the Village of Lakewood made a strategic decision to create its own Fire Department and outsource the provision of these services to a private firm, American Emergency Services (AES), which has served our residents professionally and skillfully during this time. We owe AES a debt of gratitude for all of their efforts.
As a part of our ongoing review of all of our services, however, the Board of Trustees has unanimously determined that these services can best be provided by the Woodstock Fire Rescue District (WFRD).
As a result of its greater size, the WFRD will be able to increase the level of service to Lakewood residents while significantly reducing our annual cost for fire service. They will provide an automatic back fill of our fire station on Haligus Road when the first unit responds.
They plan to increase the number of personnel at the Haligus Road station from three (3) to four (4) firefighters. Additionally, the capacity for water storage in tanker trucks that is required in areas without hydrants, such as the east side, will increase substantially.
We believe that this consolidation or sharing of services will become commonplace in the future as all units of local government seek ways in which to provide services to their constituents in the most cost effective manner possible.
New Water Tower – In May, we were able to take advantage of financing available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to refinance our wastewater treatment bonds and finance the construction of a new water tower for the west side.
This served two purposes –
- the increase in Lakewood Utilities fees that would have been passed on to existing residents on the west side as a result of the downturn in the housing market was avoided, and
- a necessary capital improvement was financed at a very low interest rate.
The new water tower was a necessary investment and was listed as a “critical need” in an independent engineering study, as our current water storage capacity is not compliant with recommended guidelines for fire flows.
Construction of the new water tower, located near Turnberry Country Club, has already begun and will serve all west side residents.
Lakewood Quilted Barn Program – Recently, you may have noticed a beautiful piece of art displayed on the side of the Village barn on Lakewood Road. This quilt was designed and painted by Heather Burton, Trustee Burton’s daughter, and is on display as part of the McHenry County’s Historical Society’s Quilted Barn Program. The Quilted Barn Program is well-publicized by the Historical Society and should bring visitors to Lakewood that may otherwise not have known about our beautiful town.
RedTail Golf Club – There have been a number of articles in the local press about RedTail Golf Club, and I want to take this opportunity to clarify its status.
Perhaps most importantly, I am confident that RedTail Golf Club will open as scheduled (as soon as the weather permits) and operate for the full season.
As with all golf courses, the sustained downturn in the economy has presented tremendous fiscal challenges.
While the number of rounds played at RedTail Golf Club has remained consistent at between 25,000 and 30,000 annually; the revenue per round has decreased as the price per round has been discounted to remain competitive.
The lack of a substantial clubhouse also limits the amount of revenue generated by food and beverage sales.
As with all of our operating enterprises, the elected officials and staff monitor financial trends very carefully.
RedTail Golf Club will finish this fiscal year with a small reserve, and the internal analysis was a proactive “call to action” to begin a strategic analysis about how to insure that RedTail Golf Club remains a viable entity that contributes to the overall quality of life in our community.
Pizza with the President – It’s time for my quarterly neighborhood meeting, but I do not yet have a meeting place. I would like to try to meet in a neighborhood I have not yet visited, such as Brighton Oaks or Loch Glen. I truly appreciate the opportunity to meet with neighbors in an informal environment. The meetings to date have provided a wonderful opportunity to discuss Village-wide and neighborhood-specific issues. Lou Malnati’s provides the pizza for the evening. Please contact me if you are interested in hosting an event.
I strongly encourage anyone to contact me, any of the Trustees, or the Village Manager with questions or concerns regarding any of the projects highlighted in the newsletter or that you might read about elsewhere.