Lakewood Village President Erin Smith sent out the following letter to her constituents in the fall village newsletter.
FROM THE PRESIDENT
As we bid a fond farewell to summer, it’s appropriate to review what was accomplished during the past three (3) months and what we can look forward to in the coming months.
As is typical in the Midwest, summer was filled with construction projects and other work on infrastructure.
Notable among these were
- the construction of bicycle lanes along Huntley Road, from West Beach to Chicago Avenue,
- the repaving of RedTail Drive and Loch Glen Drive,
- the construction of our new water tower on Turnberry Trail and
- work on the East Side Storm Sewer.
Huntley Road Bike Path
This project has been a long standing priority of our Comprehensive Plan and Parks and Recreation Committee. Given its cost, we were able to proceed with the project because staff secured a federal grant that paid for eighty percent (80%) of the construction. It has been a difficult and lengthy process for the residents impacted by the construction, and we give our sincere thanks and appreciation for their patience throughout this process.
RedTail and Loch Glen Drive
Both residents and golfers are pleased to experience the repaving of RedTail Drive. This portion of our roadway program was paid for with a $200,000 grant secured for the Village of Lakewood by State Representative Michael Tryon, and we thank him for his efforts on our behalf. With revenues from our General Fund, we were also able to repave Loch Glen Drive and make several roadway repairs throughout the community. We receive a lot of complaints about the gravel that is “kicked up” at busy intersections, and it is a maintenance problem for our residents and Public Works crew. Therefore, we took advantage of this year’s roadway program to install cobblestone returns at the intersection of RedTail Drive/Loch Glen Drive/Bardwell Lane. Please take a look and let us know what you think as we contemplate whether to continue this program at other key intersections.
We have also nearly completed the construction of our new water tower on Turnberry Trail, and it is expected to go online shortly, at which time the old water tower will be removed. In terms of branding our community, a strategic decision was made by the Board of Trustees to position the writing so that it is visible as you approach the Village of Lakewood from the north and south. The lettering is most visible from Turnberry and RedTail golf courses, where visitors will see that they are in the Village of Lakewood.
East Side Storm Water
In our ongoing efforts to address the issue of storm water on the East Side of the Village, our Public Works Department recently completed a project to clean and televise one-half of the Broadway storm sewer outfall pipe. This project was completed at a cost of approximately $17,150 and verified our concern that substantial repair and replacement of the storm sewer will be needed. We will include revenues in the budget for the next fiscal year that will allow us to complete the second half of the cleaning/televising project in order to assess the full extent of the work needed and begin to develop a plan for funding the repairs.
Other Summer News
In addition to our infrastructure improvements, we had another safe recreational season on Crystal Lake, and we extend our thanks to the Police Department for its consistently strong enforcement in this area. I am also very pleased to report that RedTail Golf Course has had a strong year to date. Revenues are greater than last year, and the volunteer program that was instituted for starters and rangers has helped to decrease expenditures. The golf season is not yet over, so take advantage of some great fall rates to help insure that RedTail Golf Course has a great year!
Economic Development Update
Looking forward, we continue to place economic development as our number one priority. Toward this end, we have hired Dobbe Marketing & PR to help our community develop a strong and consistent message to attract businesses. A Focus Group was held with local businesses and residents in July, and the results of that meeting will be shared with the Board of Trustees at the meeting on September 13. Primary topics will include:
How to best take advantage of the contacts of our residents to attract the types of businesses identified as priorities. You are our best resource!
How to partner with the developer of Lakewood Commons to fill the center, including the remaining vacant parcel.
Whether the current site of Village Hall can or should have an alternative use, such as a restaurant.
Whether it is viable to develop a town center and, if so, where?
I encourage you to participate in these discussions and provide your feedback to any of our elected officials.
Also in July, the Board approved a 6-month extension of the preliminary agreement with the developer of the sports complex. Financing has not yet been secured, but some indication of progress was presented.
Our Board was split on the decision to extend the agreement.
I voted to extend the agreement because other surrounding communities have automatically extended existing agreements to support businesses in this difficult economy and I believe we need to show an equal level of support.
Input from our Focus Group, which reinforced that the sports complex is consistent with our vision, also influenced my vote.
Through the first three months of our current fiscal year, I am also pleased to report that our sales tax revenues have increased by nearly $6,400 over this same time period last year. This increase is most directly attributable to the four (4) new businesses that were annexed last summer, and we believe that we will continue to experience increased growth in revenues from these businesses.
In fact, The Gardens of Woodstock recently become a member of the McHenry County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and motor coach tours are already making regular stops for lunch and shopping. As we seek new businesses, our most effective testimonials are our existing businesses, and it benefits all of us to support them.
New Entryway Signs
In the upcoming months, you will also see three (3) new entryway signs installed as one of the recommendations from the Parks and Recreation Committee, which is interested in establishing a Garden Club to help landscape these and other public areas in the community.
We are also exploring the possibility of working with neighboring communities to bid for the purchase of electricity for our residents. Harvard and Fox River Grove recently completed this process and had great success with overall savings for their residents of between ten (10) to fifteen (15) percent on the electric bills.
Such a process requires the passage of a referendum by our residents, and we have set a tentative goal of placing such a referendum on the March 2012 ballot. Any resident who did not want to participate in the program could simply “opt out” and continue to purchase their electricity from Commonwealth Edison. Again, we would be interested in hearing your thoughts about the program. Our goal would simply be to save our residents money in these difficult economic times.
In addition to soliciting your input on a number of issues, I am always available for a Pizza with the President and welcome your invitation.