Willey steps down with kudos to Elburn

by Martha Quetsch
Elburn has changed a lot since 1997, the year Jim Willey was elected to the first of his three consecutive terms as village president.

Willey, director of the Council on Dental Practice at the American Dental Association, decided several months ago not to seek re-election as Village President. Dave Anderson was elected to the seat on April 4, and will take office May 4.

In closing his final Village Board meeting on Monday, Willey shared a list of some of the ways Elburn was different when he took office 12 years ago.

Then, Elburn….
• did not have a commuter train station
• had only one village computer, located in the police station
• did not have a Jewel-Osco or McDonald’s
• did not have tornado sirens
• had no elementary schools
• required residents to buy vehicle stickers
• had trace amounts of radium in its water
• housed its public works department in a dilapidated building on First Street
• had no Prairie Park Scout Park or Byerhoff Park
• had no Veteran’s Memorial
• had no Blackberry Creek or Williams Ridge subdivisions
• had no Blackberry Creek water tower
• lacked a continuous sidewalk from Elburn & Countryside Community Center to Route 38
• had no village website
• lacked bridge abatements on Anderson Road to allow for an overpass
• had no medical center
• had five fewer baseball fields
• lacked opportunities for public fishing or ice skating
• had a faulty water main on West Nebraska Street that broke every few months
• did not have curbs, gutters or sidewalks on North First Street

Willey said the positive changes since then happened with the help of dedicated village officials who frequently negotiated improvements from developers. In addition, they often obtained government grants for projects, Willey said.