The spring quarterly letter from Lakewood Village President Erin Smith:
From the President
As I write this article, it is clear that spring is finally on its way. We are fortunate to live in a community that has such an abundance of outdoor activities, and I encourage you to take advantage of them as soon as weather permits. As an organization, we are busy closing out projects from our current fiscal year and making plans for the upcoming construction season. Following is a summary of projects and issues impacting our community.
Turnberry Country Club
In early February, every household in the Village of Lakewood was mailed a letter providing background information about a concept put forth by a potential owner of Turnberry Country Club (TCC) to renovate the facility and build condominiums and guest rooms on site. The letter also stated that the Village of Lakewood would strive to hold a town hall meeting to explore the concept in greater detail.
Please know that an invitation has been extended to the potential developer. It is our understanding that he is currently studying different business models to determine if there is one he could pursue that would limit the concerns vocalized by the residents. If he chooses to continue a dialogue about any concept for the property, we will notify residents and continue our efforts to schedule a town hall meeting.
Any consideration of change within a community is difficult, especially when it is such an important asset as Turnberry Country Club. However, the concept submitted began an important discussion about the need to identify a long term, sustainable solution to the ongoing operation of Turnberry Country Club in a way that enhances the neighborhood.
East Sewer Project
The final loan documents have been received from the state of Illinois, and the long awaited project is nearly ready to begin! Once a definitive timeframe is established, a mailing will be sent to residents of the East Side. Regular updates will be posted on our website and, of course, you are encouraged to call the staff at Village Hall with any specific questions regarding the project.
As a part of our Interim Agreement with the City of Crystal Lake during the construction of the East Sewer, both parties have agreed to share responsibility for utilities along that portion of Meridian Street where ownership is unclear. Last year, the City of Crystal Lake replaced the watermain under the portion of Meridian Street south of Broadway, and the Village of Lakewood shared in that cost. This summer, the roadway along this section of Meridian Street will be repaved. We are currently in discussions with the City of Crystal Lake to extend this portion of the roadway program north to Lake Avenue.
Sale of Surplus Property
In December, the Village finalized an agreement to assume ownership (at no cost) of six (6) vacant, single family properties along RedTail Drive.
The sole purpose in assuming ownership of these sites is to sell them. I encourage you to read the enclosed information about the properties and pass it along to any parties that might be interested in purchasing the parcels.
Given the professionalism of all parties, our transition to the Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department (CLFRD) on January 1, 2016 was seamless. The first call for service was received approximately forty-eight (48) hours later.
Police Chief Leigh Rawson is currently exploring a number of options for divesting ourselves of our fire and rescue equipment. Funds received from the sale of this equipment will be used to retire the loan originally taken for their purchase.
We are in the midst of budget preparations for Fiscal Year 2016 – 2017 (which begins on May 1).
The preliminary budgets will be available for review on our website, and several years of our annual audits are also available on line.
While we continue to face challenges resulting from the budget impasse in Springfield, the Village of Lakewood remains strong financially.
Our equalized assessed valuation (EAV) has increased for the second year and the pace of new construction has accelerated. In 2015, we issued permits for seventeen (17) single family homes and twenty (20) townhouse units.
In December, we purposefully chose not to take advantage of the CPI increase in our property tax rate and simply levied for new growth.
Last month, the Board of Trustees unanimously chose to eliminate the vehicle sticker program for residents. Please contact Village Hall, however, if you want a sticker for your vehicle (at no cost) for convenience or identification sake.
These actions to lower your cost of living in our community are possible because the Village strives to operate as closely to a business model as possible.
As an example, a critical evaluation of our staffing levels is an ongoing process.
During this past year, we eliminated a thirty (30) hour/week position and reduced a twenty (20) hour/week position to ten hours/week.
None of this would be possible if our existing employees were not willing to continually challenge themselves to create efficiencies and assume even greater responsibilities.
In looking forward to the coming year, we are cautiously optimistic. Our goals include:
- Completing the Phase II (design) engineering for the project to extend utilities to the intersection of IL Route 47 and IL Route 176. This is critical because it will allow the Village to move forward quickly once the right development is identified for this area.
- Strongly advocating for improvements to the intersection of IL Route 47 and IL 176, which we believe is critical for safety and economic development.
- Identify interested parties to develop the parcel on Crystal Lake that is the current site of Village Hall.
As always, please contact me or any of our officials with questions regarding any of the projects highlighted in the newsletter or that you might read about elsewhere.