Photo: Protesters stand at the entrance of the Sugar Grove Public Library on July 28. A group called Citizens for a Better Sugar Grove organized the rally protesting the July 14 firing of then-Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes by the Board of Trustees. File Photo
By Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The village of Sugar Grove this week put out a press release reflecting on the village’s achievements in 2011. Among the listed accomplishments were new retail projects such as Veterans Park, and an economic impact analysis regarding a complete interchange onto I-88 from Route 47.
Village President Sean Michels last winter said that the expected arrival of a Sugar Grove McDonald’s in mid-2011 indicated that retailers wanted to be a part of the village’s community and growth.
As it turned out, several other retailers and service-based stores decided to follow McDonald’s lead into Sugar Grove in 2011, including All-American Barbeque, Epic Garage, emily kay salon, NuWave Electric, Knot Just Sew and an antique store. The village also welcomed West Suburban Bank and Producers Chemical.
“The fact that we got the bank, the salon and McDonald’s opened up this year just shows that Sugar Grove is attractive to retailers, and we’re trying to meet the needs that residents have by getting different retailers in town,” Michels said.
According to Michels, the Sugar Grove McDonald’s is doing better business than the company originally projected for the location.
“It’s a good sign, and we use that to lure in other retailers. We’re talking to other retailers based on the success of McDonald’s,” Michels said.
The board last June approved designation of the old Sugar Grove Hotel site as Veterans Park, a place to honor those who have served the country and celebrate holidays such as the 4th of July and Memorial Day.
The idea for the park was initially pitched by the Citizens for Veterans Park group at a Village Board meeting in May
In terms of work done by village staff in 2011, Michels and Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger both noted the fact that several village roads were repaved this past year.
“We put between $250,000 and $300,000 into road projects, and a lot of communities aren’t able to put that much money into their roads,” Michels said. “We still have roads that need work, but we’re making progress and fixing a lot of our older roads, so that’s a good sign.”
Eichelberger said he believes the village’s public works and police departments provided great service to residents in 2011 while at lower staffing levels than in previous years.
“(I am most proud of) the village’s ability to continue to provide a very high service level in a very efficient manner during challenging times,” he said. “You can go department by department, and with the board’s direction, we’ve been able to maintain all service levels despite cutbacks. You come up with different ways of doing business and you find more efficient ways of doing things. These are challenging financial times, but we’ve been able to maintain solid financial footing.”
According to Michels, the village achieved a budget surplus in 2011 because of expenses that were cut in prior years, including building inspector and police officer positions and multiple administration spots.
“It was hard to cut those positions back then, but it was the right thing to do and it’s proving itself now,” he said.
Michels said he was pleased with the electric aggregation referendum that was passed in early April, allowing the village to use bids from electricity suppliers other than ComEd. As a result, residents are now paying about 23 percent less for their electricity.
“People had enough confidence in the village—in a government entity—that we were doing the right thing for our taxpayers. They supported us through the referendum, and in return, they’re getting a reduction on the electric side of their bills,” Michels said.
The last 12 months weren’t 100 percent positive for the village, though, as Michels said he was disappointed in the lack of residential building during 2011.
“It’s just a sign of the economy, and a lot of communities are struggling to get residential building going on in their community,” he said. “It’s a focus of ours for this coming year to work with builders and developers to get things kick-started and help out the community. I think that helps support people who are trying to sell their homes; I think there’s a basis now that we’ve hopefully hit the floor in market values.”