Tag Archives: Kathy Curtis

Village name new village clerk

Maple Park—During a special Maple Park Village Board meeting on Tuesday, Elizabeth Peerboom was appointed to the position of village clerk.

“We’re happy to welcome you, and look forward to working with you,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

Peerboom has been appointed to the position for a period ending in April 2012. The village clerk is appointed by the village president, and is subject to an annual review.

Prior to serving with Maple Park, Peerboom worked for the city of DeKalb as the deputy city clerk.

Maple Park picks pair to fill out Village Board

Maple Park—After interviewing candidates, the Maple Park Village Board on Tuesday decided who will fill the two seats left open on the board.

At May’s Board meeting, Steve Nowak and Greg Cutsinger will be installed, filling the seats of trustees Mark Delaney and Nick Moisa, who will be retiring when their terms are up on April 30.

Neither Nowak or Cutsinger have any previous experience serving on village committees.

Village President Kathy Curtis also stated she has been contacted by a resident interested in filling the open seat on the village’s Planning Commission. If this candidate is suitable, they will also be installed at May’s meeting.

Filling the roster

Village works to fill remaining vacancies on Village Board, Planning Commission
by David Maas
MAPLE PARK—The village of Maple Park is one step closer to filling the two open seats on its Village Board, but still has one open seat needing to be filled on the Planning Commission.

At last Tuesday’s board meeting, the board approved the appointment of George “Nick” Davidson and Jay Trout to the village’s Planning Commission to three-year terms.

“These were re-appointments,” said Villiage President Kathy Curtis, “Their terms had ended, and they wanted to continue working with the village. There is still one open seat that needs to be filled on the Planning Commission.”

On Saturday, April 16, the trustees will hold interviews for the two candidates up for the two open seats on the board.

“Trustees Armstrong, Borg, Fahnestock, Lunardon and I will be interviewing the candidates,” Curtis said. “Each candidate will receive a 15-minute interview.”

The five candidates being interviewed for the seats are Greg Cutsinger, Steve Nowak, Alan McPhee, Joe Karabowitz and Dennis Selenis.

Curtis said the board hopes to fill the seats with people that can make the commitment to move the village forward.

“We have very limited resources, and significant challenges,” said Curtis, “Open-mindedness and creative thinking is major.”

The board will choose two candidates at the close of the interviews, and the appointments will be made at the board meeting on Tuesday, May 3.

MP referendum asks residents to keep tax

by Sandy Kaczmarski
Maple Park—Maple Park residents could be faced with hefty tax increases to replace a revenue stream to fund needed capital improvements if the No Tax Increase referendum fails to pass on April 5.

“If voters say yes, we can continue to collect the tax we’ve been using to pay off bonds and use it to pay for needed capital improvements,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

A bond issue from 20 years ago is about to be paid off and would mean lower property taxes for homeowners, but Curtis said now the village faces $10 million in needed improvements without any way to pay for them. By continuing to collect the tax after the bonds are paid off, Curtis said there would be little impact on homeowners who already are contributing with their property taxes.

“We have one gas station, and there’s no commercial property in town,” Curtis said. “The village operates on property taxes.”

Despite aggressively seeking government grants, Curtis said most of them require matching funds. She said without continuing to collect the tax, village officials would be forced to find other sources of revenue, which could mean a hefty increase in water and sewer rates.

Curtis said anyone with questions about the referendum should feel free to call her cell phone at (815) 209-7666, or to contact any of the board of trustees, whose numbers are on the village of Maple Park’s website, www.villageofmaplepark.com. A fact sheet about the referendum is also at www.villageofmaplepark.com/facts.pdf.

The referendum reads: “Shall the debt service extension base under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for the Village of Maple Park, DeKalb and Kane Counties, Illinois, for payment of principal and interest on limited bonds be established at $91,100 for the 2011 levy year and all subsequent levy years, such debt service extension base to be increased each year by the lesser of 5% or the percentage increase in the consumer Price Index during the 12-month calendar year preceding the levy year?”

MP signs IGA with Kaneland

by Lynn Meredith
MAPLE PARK—In a close vote, the Maple Park Village Board passed a motion to sign an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the Kaneland School District. The agreement calls for municipalities to collect impact and land-use fees from developers to offset costs of educating children of new residents to the district.

The IGA asks the towns of Elburn, Virgil, Sugar Grove, Maple Park, Kaneville, Montgomery and Cortland to bind together to defray at least a part of the immediate financial demands on facilities and services whenever development comes into the district. From 1997 to 2010, Kaneland enrollment doubled. The district wants to maintain consistency so that developers are not paying different levels of fees in various communities.

The three-year agreement calls for the collection of land dedications or cash equivalent payments from residential developers, along with school impact fees. The district uses the land-cash payments to obtain school sites in the municipalities. The impact fees are based on tables and apply to all new annexation agreements.

“The tables have not changed (from the previous IGA), but the assessed values have gone down,” Maple Park Village President Kathy Curtis said. “They apply to new construction and new annexation.”

The IGA implements a phased-in schedule of payments based on home value. In 2011, a new $200,000, three-bedroom home will be assessed $3,560 in impact fees. By 2013, the impact fee will be $5,934.

Trustee Terry Borg said that the idea of the IGA is to have all of the communities that make up the Kaneland School District support the schools equally.

“Current residents are not taxed to pay for new residents,” Borg said, “New people to the community pay the same amount to support the School District as current residents.”

The vote was split with Debra Armstrong, Suzanne Fahnestock and Terry Borg voting to sign the agreement. Nick Moisa and Mark Delaney voted against it. Trustee Pat Lunardon was absent but provided a statement.

“She said that she was not in agreement with the IGA. She said that we were not on a level playing field and that the agreement binds us,” Curtis said.

The motion passed in a 3-2 vote.

Maple Park must revise its plan for street repairs

Village officials cite state specifications as reason
by Lynn Meredith
MAPLE PARK—The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) changed its specifications for street repairs in Maple Park, causing the village to prioritize which streets it can repair.

The bidding process for planned repairs will go forward, but in pieces. The funds aren’t there to do everything IDOT stipulates, village officials said.

Maple Park Trustee Mark Delaney said Monday that the village previously decided to do the asphalt this year and the binder coat next year, but now cannot go forward with this plan.

“IDOT won’t let us just do a binder coat,” Delaney said during the Committee of the Whole meeting. “It’s either the whole thing or nothing.”

He said prices for asphalt and crew are $23,000, but with the binder coat added, they are $56,000. Because of weather, the village needs to do the work by Nov. 15, or wait until next May.

“We need to do it in the next 30 days, or we’re out of luck,” Delaney said.

Village President Kathy Curtis said that waiting until next year would cost the village additional engineering fees.

Delaney suggested that the village give priority to the parking lot at the Civic Center and Green, South and Mulberry streets because of the threat of water damage that has occurred in the past.

“IDOT wants us to go down to the base and build them up from scratch,” Delaney said. “We have to lower the parking lot by 3.5 inches, down below grade, and then asphalt it.”

Village officials had been concerned about another requirement from IDOT that the village make all streets 24 feet wide, something not possible on all the roads needing repair, they said. For example, Willow Street is 18 feet wide, and South Street is 14 feet wide. Widening them would have involved cutting into front lawns and removing culverts. The state dropped the requirement this week, however.

New ordinance will address golf cart use in Maple Park

by Lynn Meredith
MAPLE PARK—Tooling around on a golf cart can be fun and a great way to get from one place to another, but it’s not as free-wheeling as you might think. Maple Park is taking steps to develop a golf cart ordinance that would help regulate the vehicles’ use on village streets.

“Yes, they are legal, and residents are using them,” Village President Kathy Curtis said Oct. 5, during the Village Board meeting. “But we need an ordinance to police them better. We need something to use as a guideline.”

Golf cart drivers must have a valid driver’s license and insurance. Illinois does not require the cart to have a license plate. Golf cart drivers are subject to Illinois driving laws.

“They are accountable to all state statutes,” Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta said. “They can be charged with drunk driving.”

Curtis said that a local golf cart ordinance will benefit both police officers and residents because the village will have clarified rules to follow.

Trustee Terry Borg noted that a number of senior citizens use golf carts to get around, so the intent of the law is not to do away with the carts.

“The issue is safety, not prohibition,” Borg said.

Trustee Mark Delaney volunteered to draft the ordinance.

The new ordinance will pertain to golf carts only.

Sharing future boundary bounty

[quote]by Lynn Meredith
MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Board decided Monday to keep the door open to finding common ground with Cortland on where the two villages’ boundaries meet, but they want more equitable terms.

Since 2002, when growth was sweeping the communities of Cortland and Maple Park, the two villages envisioned the day when their borders would meet. Even though growth has slowed, the villages still are envisioning how far each will expand.

At issue are the shared revenues at a possible I-88 interchange and its four corners of potential commercial development.

Cortland has offered a 70-30 split of the revenues and a sharing of the property and sales taxes only, rather than comprehensive revenue sharing, said Maple Park’s Village Attorney, Kevin Buick.

The village had assumed a 50-50 split and the establishment of a zone from which the villages would share revenue. The concept is based on a local model of DeKalb and Sycamore’s agreement along Route 23. The Maple Park Board did not react favorably to Cortland’s offer.

“We do our share, they do their share and we get 30 percent,” Maple Park trustee Mark Delaney said.

The Elburn Herald contacted the Cortland Village Administrator about the Maple Park Board’s reaction but did not receive a response before press time on Wednesday.

Village President Kathy Curtis questioned whether Maple Park should continue the negotiations with Cortland.

“I don’t know how many thousands of dollars we have spent on drafting this agreement over the years. It’s been on the agenda for 10 years. We’ve spent $1,200 just this fiscal year. How can we keep investing this money and not (be) making strides?”

However, the board determined that an agreement is necessary to protect Maple Park’s interests.

“Even if there is no revenue sharing agreement, we need to draw the line in the sand,” Delaney said. “We have to get how far east they go and how far west we go.”

Wastewater plant takes top priority

Road extension plan on village’s back burner
by Lynn Meredith
MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board on Monday postponed starting work on the Schrader Road extension agreement, citing more current concerns for the revenue-strapped village.

Trustee Debra Armstrong said the village has more pressing priorities than extending Schrader for future development.

“We agreed to only spend money on what impacts the village today,” Armstrong said. “What are we getting out of it now? It might not get done in the next 20 years.”

The proposed extension, with a railway overpass, would be a major outlet for the planned Meadowbrooks residential development on the east side of the village.

“This agreement would be between the village and the landowners, that if we ever get out there, they will donate the land to us to be annexed,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

The board voted during its Monday meeting to draft the Schrader extension agreement at a later date. The cost to draft the agreement, including legal fees and a desk-top survey expense, will be approximately $1,000. Planning Commissioner Art Maercker said the road extension is part of the village’s Comprehensive Plan.

Curtis said the board currently should focus on building a new wastewater treatment plant instead, which is necessary to attract and keep development.

“We have nowhere to flush the toilets,” Curtis said. “I don’t know why we are thinking about anything but a wastewater treatment plant. We should be thinking of nothing else than that, 24 hours a day.”

The village needs a larger wastewater treatment plant before any future development occurs in Maple Park, village officials said. Another planned subdivision is a 469-home development that John Clare Ltd. intends to build at County Line Road and Route 38. John Clare Ltd. several months ago obtained a five-year extension from the village for starting the project.

The new wastewater treatment plant will have computerized flow monitoring, holding tank, pump station and other features. It will replace the existing plant on Maple Park Road, which consists of an aerated lagoon.

The village last spring pre-applied for a $5 million Illinois Environmental Protection Agency loan funded by federal stimulus money to pay for the new plant. The village could obtain the low-interest loan as early as next spring.

Longtime MP Public Works director says he will retire Nov. 1

by Lynn Meredith
Maple Park—The Maple Park Village Board received a shock at its meeting on Tuesday when President Kathy Curtis announced that Public Works Director Eric Pinion was retiring.

“He handed me this letter tonight, and I said, ‘I’m not going to like this, am I?’” Curtis said.

Pinion, who has held the post as Public Works Director for 27 years, will retire as of Nov. 1.

“I really don’t want to, but I want to,” Pinion told the board. “It’s time.”

Pinion has been, more or less, a one-man show in the Public Works Department and knows where the pipes are buried. Trustee Debra Armstrong said that they would have to do brain surgery to garnish all the information about the village that he has in his head.

His department handles snow removal, mowing and trimming, general building repairs, meter reading and replacement and vehicle maintenance. It also coordinates events like Fun Fest and makes sure the grounds are kept clean.

Pinion, 67, said he’s tired. He said the 12-hour days and canceled vacations add up.

“I enjoy what I do. I enjoy talking to the people. I don’t know any strangers. But I want to relax for a while,” Pinion said, and then added, “But I’ll find something. I can’t sit still for long.”

Maple Park officials studying revenue options

by Tammy Swanson
MAPLE PARK—In times of increasing revenue constraints, Maple Park officials are trying to stay ahead of the financial curve.

In 1997, Maple Park residents approved a referendum for a capital bond issue for the village’s sewer system. If the village does not extend the bond issue past its expiration in 2011, existing property taxes for the village will drop 33 percent, or about $90,000, according to an Austin Meade Financial report.

Village trustees listened to a financial overview from Dan Denys of Austin Meade Financial at its Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday.

Denys presented trustees with three potential options to avoid this loss of revenue. Maple Park could approve a new bond issue, approve taxes for nonreferendum bonds or approve a general tax increase.

The village is in the early stages of looking at these options.

“Last night was the first introduction to the concept of extending the bond issue,” Village President Kathy Curtis said Tuesday.

Village officials will continue their discussion at the Village Board meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4.

Village seeks engineer proposals

by Tammy Swanson
MAPLE PARK—Many municipalities are reviewing their budgets to try to reduce costs where appropriate, and Maple Park is no exception. The village’s latest budget adjustment will be reducing its village engineering expense, if possible.

“Cash reserve is minimal, cash property taxes are minimal, so we need to make the most of our money,” Village President Kathy Curtis said Monday.

The village has employed the same engineer for six years, Crystal Lake-based Baxter & Woodman. Village officials have sent letters of inquiry to several other engineering firms.

“We’re just going out to market … We’re asking them to tell us what their rates are and how they would manage a certain project,” Village President Kathy Curtis said. “It’s just an economic decision to go to market to make sure we’re getting our best rates.”

Prospective engineers for Maple Park should provide the village with an outline of their firm’s services as well as the cost of the services. Responsibilities of the position include attending Village Board meetings on the first Tuesday of each month, as well as some Planning Commission meetings, and working on engineering for infrastructure projects including a major water-main replacement that is necessary for future commercial and residential expansion in the village.

The deadline for submitting proposals for the Village Engineer position is Tuesday, July 13. Send proposals to trustee Mark Delaney, c/o Village of Maple Park, P.O. Box 200, Maple Park, IL 60151.

Park will not be cellular tower site

MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board on Monday voted against allowing a U.S. Cellular tower on village-owned park property next to the Civic Center.

The company had proposed renting the site from the village for $800 per month.

“The village is looking at ways to supplement its budget, but this site is not appropriate, and (locating the tower there) would not meet the requirements of the zoning code,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

U.S. Cellular is considering other locations on private property in the village for the 190-foot pole.

Tight budget has MP seeking grants, loans

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park officials continue to seek loans and grants to pay for public works projects that are unaffordable under the village budget.

The Village Board approved the 2010-11 fiscal-year budget on Monday, with $1.5 million in expenses and $1.4 million in revenue. The village will have to use part of its $740,000 reserve fund to cover the shortfall.

A proposed reduction in state income taxes disbursed to municipalities would cause more financial challenges for the revenue-strapped village. Under Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal, Maple Park’s revenue would drop by about $30,000. The Village Board on Monday approved a resolution opposing the proposed state decrease.

Another budget blow came this week when the village was notified that the federal government turned down a joint application by the villages of Maple Park, Cortland and Elburn for economic stimulus funds, trustee Suzanne Fahnestock said.

Maple Park sought $1.8 million to improve sections of the village’s aging stormwater sewers, which do not effectively mitigate water during heavy rains or when snow melts, Maple Park Village President Kathy Curtis said.

Village officials are optimistic that Maple Park will receive a $5 million loan they applied for in March from Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, funded by federal economic stimulus money, for a larger wastewater treatment plant.

“We hope to secure the stimulus loan in October 2011,” Curtis said. “No other thoughts have been discussed at this point.”

Curtis said the village’s next step will be to seek funding for village projects through a new grant program in Kane County.

Accurate census makes sense for villages

by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN, MP—Elburn and Maple Park officials want residents to stand up and be counted, by completing their 2010 U.S. Census forms.

Elburn Village President Dave Anderson said that the census is important locally for several reasons. One is that the village head count could require changes in village operations. Under state law, if Elburn has more than 5,000 residents, it will have to have an elected village clerk and establish a police commission.

In the past, the village president has appointed the village clerk annually, with the advice and consent of the board. For the past several years, Diane McQuilkin has held the position.

The three-member police commission would be appointed by the village president, with the advice and consent of the Village Board. The police commission would be responsible for hiring, promoting, disciplining and dismissing police officers. Currently, the Village Board makes those decisions.

The number of residents also determines state and federal government representation, Anderson said.

“Legislative districts (both federal and state) are set up, basically, by population,” he said.

An accurate count of village residents also is important to the village financially. Income- and sales-tax revenue that the village receives from the state is determined through an equation that factors in population established by the U.S. Census, Anderson said.

Accurate data reflecting changes in municipalities’ populations are crucial in deciding how more than $400 billion per year is allocated by the federal government for community projects such as roads and schools, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The last time a head count took place in Elburn was in 2006, when a U.S. special census determined the village’s population was 4,696. Anderson believes the census may show that the village has grown to nearly 5,000.

“I think we will be very close,” Anderson said.

Maple Park had a special census done in 2007, showing that the village’s population was approximately 1,100, Village President Kathy Curtis said.

Curtis said each person counted represents approximately $100 in revenue per year for the village. She said it is crucial for Maple Park that its residents complete their census forms, because of the financial impact of a head count that is too low.

She said, for example, if Maple Park’s “population comes in at 1,000 with the 2010 census that is about $10,000 of lost revenue for the village.”

“We already know our population is marginally lower due to foreclosures in town,” Curtis said. “We can’t afford to forfeit revenue by not responding.”

On May 1, U.S. Census takers will begin going door-to-door to households that did not mail back their 2010 Census forms. They also will verify that housing units indicated as unoccupied by the postal service or other sources are indeed unoccupied and vacant.
The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census every 10 years.
Source: www.2010census.gov

State revenue cut would hit villages hard, officials say

Proposal would reduce municipalities’ income tax share
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN, MP—A proposed reduction in state income taxes disbursed to municipalities would cause more financial challenges for the revenue-strapped villages of Elburn and Maple Park.

The 2010-11 state budget draft proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn in March calls for cutting municipalities’ share of their residents’ state income tax from 10 to 7 percent.

Under Quinn’s proposal, Maple Park’s revenue would drop by about $30,000 and Elburn’s would decrease by an estimated $100,000, village officials said.

“This deep of a cut would put us into a situation potentially using reserve funds,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

To deal with its budget crunch, Maple Park already has frozen employee raises for the past two years and drastically cut its engineering and legal costs, Curtis said.

Elburn also has slashed its budget to cope with revenue constraints. The village did not give employee raises this year and reduced its staff. If the state income-tax disbursement drops, the village will have to look at other ways to reduce expenses, and also would likely have to dip into its reserve funds, Elburn Village President Dave Anderson said.

“We’re at the bare-bones end of things now,” he said.

The villages set money aside in reserve funds to use for emergency infrastructure projects and other unexpected expenses. Those funds currently total about $5 million in Elburn and $740,000 in Maple Park. Village officials are concerned that those monies could quickly be depleted if they have to use them for operating expenses. State income tax money benefits the villages’ general operating fund.

“God forbid that we have a catastrophe—where is the money going to come from?” Anderson said.

State lawmakers are expected to vote next month on a final budget following a legislative review including House and Senate appropriation committee meetings.

Hearings are in full swing in Springfield this week, said Rep. Kay Hatcher (R-Dist. 50-Yorkville), who strongly opposes Quinn’s proposed cut in income tax disbursements to municipalities.

“It (the proposal) is really even more onerous than it seems at first sight,” Hatcher said.

Hatcher said that because of the economy, local funding already is down 40 percent.

“That is more than any municipality can handle,” Hatcher said.

For 2008-09, the village of Elburn received $437,931 in income taxes from the state; that represents 10 percent of income taxes collected by the state from Elburn residents. The 10-percent disbursement dropped to about $375,000 for 2009-10.

“And if they (state lawmakers) decide to diminish the 10 percent to 7 percent, that’s another whack,” Anderson said.

Hatcher does not believe the Senate and House will approve a budget that includes Quinn’s proposed cut in income taxes for municipalities.

“There are going to be a lot of negotiations going on,” Hatcher said. “The state can’t cut that (income tax to municipalities) without General Assembly approval, and I don’t see that happening,” Hatcher said.

Gov. Quinn’s
proposal

Under Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposed state budget for 2010-11, the amount of state income tax that goes to local governments will decrease by 3 percentage points.

Currently, the state disburses to each municipality 10 percent of income taxes from its residents. Quinn proposed decreasing the disbursement to 7 percent. That represents a 30-percent reduction in local tax revenue.

Maple Park is receiving up to $101,000 in income taxes from the state for this fiscal year 2009-10, which ends April 30, said the village’s accounting clerk, Cheryl Aldridge. Under the proposed state cut, the village’s share next year would be about $70,000.

Elburn is receiving about $375,000 in state income taxes this fiscal year, and under the proposed cut would receive approximately $275,000 in 2010-11.

Curtis lauds board for year’s accomplishments

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board has made great strides during the past year to begin tackling the challenges it faced when members took office a year ago, Village President Kathy Curtis said.

“This board is committed, and we are trying our best to move this community forward,” Curtis said during a village meeting on April 6.

Curtis, who became village president in May 2009, created board committees at that time to focus on critical village projects, from improving the aging infrastructure to budgeting. The committees since then have met twice a month to study issues related to those projects and bring their findings to the board.

Trustees spent two Saturday mornings in intensive workshops with Curtis, reviewing and prioritizing the board’s critical issues list.

As a result of these efforts, the board has accomplished a lot, Curtis said. Among its achievements was a successful search for a police chief. The board interviewed candidates and hired former Kane County Sheriff’s officer Michael Acosta for the position last fall. The board also has worked with a developer toward bringing a strip mall with a restaurant and other businesses in the future to Route 38 and County Line Road.

Curtis lauded the work of individual trustees, including Suzanne Fahnestock, who helped the village obtain grant money and has implemented a computer network, updated the village website and advertised Maple Park’s commercial properties on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website.

Trustee Mark Delaney completed and submitted an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency loan application to help the village pay for hundreds of thousands of dollars in water and sewer system improvements. Village officials hope to receive the funds in 2011.

Trustee Pat Lunardon cleaned and painted the interior of the Civic Center and hosted a Maple Park business owners meeting recently to promote downtown redevelopment.

Trustee Terry Borg has attended Kaneland School District meetings and has worked on the Cortland boundary agreement.

Trustee Debra Armstrong was instrumental in the recruitment of the police chief and Trustee Nick Moisa helped Curtis with several Police Department matters, Curtis said.

“All of these things are going on at the same time we are taking care of regular village business,” Curtis said.

Private-property parking ordinance clarified

RVs, boats, trailers not allowed on front lawns, driveways
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—There are approximately 600 Maple Park violations of ordinances governing the maintenance, appearance and safety of private property in the village, President Kathy Curtis said during Tuesday’s Village Board meeting.

The village will begin issuing notices, then warnings, then fines, to violators, focusing first on violations that are a health or safety concern, Curtis said.

“The building inspector will work with (property) owners,” Curtis said. “He’s not going straight to ticketing.”

The village-hired building inspector canvassed Maple Park in recent weeks to determine where violations were occurring. The Village Board requested the canvass after some residents expressed concerns about the unsightliness and safety issues posed by junk and inoperable vehicles on private property.

Because of the canvass, RV, boat and trailer owners wondered whether they would be able to continue parking their vehicles where they always have, but village officials and staff at first were uncertain about how to interpret the ordinance requirements. Curtis clarified the ordinance on Monday after recently consulting with the building inspector.

She said the code section that pertains to parking those vehicles reads, “Front-yard, off-street parking shall not be used for parking boats, recreational vehicles or trailers.” Since the ordinance does not mention a parking surface requirement, currently residents may park the vehicles on their lawns, with the exception of the front yards, Curtis said.

The building inspector interpreted the code to mean residents may not park these vehicles on front driveways, either, so although Curtis does not wholly agree, the village will enforce that rule for now, she said.

Village officials do not have a short-term plan to alter any of the village ordinances. However, as time permits, the board will assess the ordinances and determine if any changes are needed and devise equitable solutions, Curtis said.

Updated April 11, 2010 at 9:42 a.m. CST

RV owners want an answer

Officials unsure of private-property parking rules
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Don Holder of Maple Park parks his trailer on a gravel area alongside his garage. Now, he’s not so sure he is allowed to do this, since village officials are not sure either.

Holder became doubtful after Maple Park police recently approached him and other RV owners to tell them that the village soon will enforce its municipal code ordinances, without specifying which ones.

Holder said he called the village to ask whether he could still park his trailer next to his garage but was not given an answer.

“They really didn’t clear it up,” Holder said. “No one seems to know if it is an ordinance violation.”

Before buying his house at 804 Willow St. three years ago, Holder wanted to make sure this would be allowed, so he called the village and was told it was permitted, he said.

“That is why I moved to Maple Park, because I could do that (park a trailer on his property),” Holder said.

When Village President Kathy Curtis was asked if Maple Park’s municipal code allows trailers, motor homes, boats and other RVs to be parked on residential property, she did not have the answer.

“It is not that easy; that is why the building inspector has been contracted to interpret (the code),” Curtis told the Elburn Herald on Tuesday.

The municipal code is composed of all municipal regulations, which were established through ordinances passed by the Village Board over the years. The village recently employed Bill Dettmer of International Codes and Consultants, Inc., to interpret the regulations and canvass the village for violations.

If the building inspector determines that the current code allows residents to park RVs on their property, it is uncertain whether village officials will change the code in the future to restrict that parking. Village President Kathy Curtis said Tuesday that she did not want to comment at this time about whether or not that might happen.

Maple Park resident Don Schiff hopes the village will continue allowing him to park his trailer in his driveway at 526 S. Huntley St. He said the section of the code that pertains to parking “didn’t clarify” the current regulation.

Schiff, Holder and several other RV owners from Maple Park attended the village’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday to request more information about village ordinances regulating RV parking. However, the committee meeting format does not allow for public comment, so Holder and the others plan to attend the next Village Board meeting on Tuesday, April 6, to talk to trustees about the issue.

Stimulus funds sought for aging stormwater system upgrades

Villages apply for $3.4M for flood reduction projects
by Martha Quetsch
MP, ELBURN—Maple Park and Elburn officials hope that economic stimulus funds will make sorely needed stormwater system improvements possible in their villages.

The two villages, along with Cortland, applied this week for $3.4 million in federal funds for stormwater drainage repairs and improvements to reduce residential flooding.

In Maple Park, sections of the village’s existing storm water sewers are “archaic” and are not effectively mitigating water during heavy rains or when snow melts, Maple Park Village President Kathy Curtis said.

A village engineering study in 2008 recommended stormwater system improvements with an estimated cost of $1.8 million. However, the village does not have the funds to undertake such a project, Curtis said.

By applying collectively, the villages could have a better chance of securing some or all of the much-needed funding, Maple Park trustee Suzanne Fahnestock said.

In the combined funding application, Elburn Public Works Superintendent John Nevenhoven stated that the northwest side of the village experiences frequent flooding, standing water and sewer back-ups due to an “inadequate and antiquated storm sewer system.”

Elburn applied for stimulus funding to install new storm sewers in that area, a project with an estimated cost of $192,000. The project would reduce street flooding and standing water in residential yards that plague that part of town by replacing existing storm sewer lines that were installed during the 1920s and 1930s, Nevenhoven said.

Those aging lines “are woefully undersized to meet demand, have completely clogged or clog easily during a rain event,” Nevenhoven said.

If Elburn does not obtain the stimulus funds, it could use money from the water and sewer capital fund, Village Administrator Erin Willrett said; the fund currently totals just $53,000, but village officials are considering boosting the balance through higher water and sewer charges.

Another option for Elburn, if it does not receive the stimulus funds, would be to pay for the new storm sewers through the village’s fund designated for expanding the wastewater treatment plant in the future, Willrett said. The fund currently has a balance of $1.5 million.

Village officials: Projects would create 100 jobs
In their combined application for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (federal economic stimulus program) funding for stormwater system improvements, officials from Maple Park, Elburn and Cortland estimated that the projects would create more than 100 jobs.

On Feb. 13, 2009, the U.S. Congress passed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. According to the federal government’s recovery.gov website, the act’s goals are to create new jobs and save existing ones, and to spur economic activity and invest in long-term growth.

New retail center contingent on water main project

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—The Maples commercial development at Route 38 and County Line Road cannot move forward until the village improves an aging water main, possibly with a county grant.

Bob Browning, of The Maples developer, Integritas Systems, LLC of Yorkville, submitted a proposed development agreement to the village Feb. 8.

“The Maples will have to wait for our answer until the village knows if it will get the grant,” Village President Kathy Curtis said during the Maple Park Committee of the Whole meeting Monday.

In its proposed agreement, Integritas Systems stated it will be responsible for another needed public works improvement project, as village officials previously requested. That project is a sanitary sewer connection, which the company will pay for and install.

The village water main project, on the northeast corridor of the village, is needed to provide the appropriate fire flow requirements from the water tower to The Maples, Curtis said. The improvement is not exclusively for The Maples, however.

“This project needs to be done regardless,” Curtis said. “The infrastructure is old and does not meet today’s size requirements.”

The village is seeking a $300,000 Kane County Community Development Block Grant to help pay for the $400,000 project. The village will likely know by early March whether it will receive the grant, she said.

Integritas Systems first proposed The Maples in November 2009. Plans for the development include small retail businesses, a restaurant and office rental space.

Officials praise new chief for first month on job

Acosta making improvements to department
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park’s new police chief, Michael Acosta, spent much of his time during his first month of employment making initial improvements to help him do his job.

“There are a lot of things the Police Department is behind on,” Acosta told the Village Board Tuesday.

Acosta said the department did not have basic fingerprinting equipment.

“They (previous Maple Park Police Department leaders) were under the assumption that the county would do fingerprinting (if needed),” Acosta said.

Nor did the department have a police interview room, which Acosta is going to establish.

Acosta already has prepared a “very thorough budget” of proposals for the Police Department, Village President Kathy Curtis said.

“I am impressed,” Curtis said.

Acosta and his officers also have cleaned out the community room to prepare for events such as resident forums, officers reading with children, and puppet shows to foster a positive image of police.

Since taking office Jan. 6, Acosta also has spent many afternoons driving through town, stopping to talk to local business owners and residents to encourage them to feel free to talk with him about any concerns they might have.

In the future, he will have more time to patrol, he said.

“Right now I am doing other things, like pulling out carpet and throwing things away,” Acosta said.

Trustee Mark Delaney said it is apparent that Acosta also is beginning to improve policing in the village.

“It’s nice to see the officers near the bus stops and stop signs early in the morning … it’s a nice change,” Delaney said.

Acosta worked with the Kane County Sheriff’s Department for more than 30 years, serving as Commander of Administration, and Commander of Kane County Major Crimes Task Force.

Before hiring Acosta, Maple Park had not had an officer in charge since officer Chuck Slater’s resignation in September.

‘Grants, grants, grants’

Village seeks county funding for roof, water main
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park officials are aggressively pursuing alternative types of revenue for public works projects the village cannot afford with its limited, primary source of funds, property taxes.

“Suzanne (trustee Fahnestock) has been writing grants, grants, grants,” Village President Kathy Curtis said at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting.

During the meeting, the board authorized two grant applications. One application is for a Kane County Riverboat Fund Program grant of $82,230 to cover the cost of a roof replacement project at the Civic Center. The other application is from the Kane County Community Development Block Grant Program for the water main replacement project.

The cost of the water main replacement is $303,100. The village is requesting $200,000 from the Block Grant Program and will allocate $103,100 in the village budget for the project, Curtis said.

The water main project is in the northeast corridor of town and will help water flow more efficiently, which will enhance fire protection, Curtis said.

The water main replacement will improve the infrastructure between the water tower and the treatment facility by removing the flow restrictions and upgrading the size of the pipe by four inches. The project will replace some of the oldest and smallest pipe in the village from four to eight inches.

The village also applied for federal stimulus program funds through the state several months ago, money that would allow for additional water main work.

“If the stimulus packages continue and we are successful in securing a portion, we could replace the balance of the water mains in the old section of town and eliminate all the old four-inch and six-inch pipe,” Curtis said.

Finding additional sources of revenue has been a goal for the village, since the village’s proposed 2009 property tax levy is just $2,944 more than village property taxes in 2008, which totaled $273,943. Under the property tax cap, that 1.1 percent increase is all the state will allow for 2009.

MP officials hold off on wayside horn decision

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park officials know that reducing train whistles in the village would increase the quality of life for residents, they said. They do not know, however, what the financial burden would be for the proposed solution-installing wayside horns at village train crossings.

“Maple Park needs hard numbers on the village’s piece of the expense before we can commit to moving forward with a wayside horn project,” Village President Kathy Curtis said Sept. 23.

The Maple Park Planning Commission recommended in August that the Village Board approve pursuing the project. But Curtis said the board first will determine the project cost.

Drew Frasz, Kane County Board member from District 26, said Maple Park possibly could receive financial help from the state to pay for the wayside horns.

Elburn recently installed wayside horns at the First Street and the Main Street rail crossings, for approximately $260,000. Frasz said the cost for wayside horns could decrease in the future as more municipalities install them.

The Planning Commission’s proposed installing wayside horns at the County Line Road and the Liberty Street rail crossings. With the stationary horns, which emit their sound only in the area of the crossing, the village could meet federal safety requirements for a semi-quiet zone.

Train whistles would only sound if the wayside horns were not functioning or engineers saw potential hazards on or near the tracks.

The plan as proposed could involve reducing the number of crossings in the village to two, by closing the Pleasant Road crossing.

The state already has designated funds in its budget this year to help the county pay for wayside horns at two crossings near La Fox next year, through a county project that Frasz spearheaded to install stationary horns at crossings westward from La Fox to just beyond Maple Park.

Frasz presented information about the county project during Maple Park’s Sept. 21 Committee of the Whole meeting.

MP hires new legal firm with local presence

by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—The Maple Park Village Board on Tuesday selected the firm of Foster & Buick Law Group as the village’s new legal counsel, pleased with its fees and experience representing other local communities.

Foster & Buick, of Sycamore, will replace the village’s former counsel, Bond Dixon and Associates, a Wheaton firm that has represented the village for four years. The Village Board decided to put the village attorney position out to bid after Bond Dickson’s contract expired April 30.

“The new board voted unanimously to go to market and review other legal opportunities,” Curtis said.

Bond Dickson was among the 10 firms that bid for the contract in July.

Ultimately, after interviewing four of the applicants, Village President Kathy Curtis and trustees recommended that the board hire Foster & Buick. Curtis said they particularly wanted Foster & Buick because of its extensive work with many of the smaller communities in the area.

“The board felt that their experience of working with emerging towns similar to ours would be beneficial and assist us in our decision making,” Curtis said.

Among the area municipalities that Foster & Buick represents are Sycamore, Shabbona, Kingston, Malta, Waterman and Lee.

The law firm has seven attorneys, including Keith Foster, who has been a municipal lawyer for 30 years, and Kevin L. Buick, who has practiced general law with emphasis in municipal law since 1990.

One reason the village decided to seek proposals from law firms for the village attorney role was to make sure the village had the best counsel for the best price, said trustee Debra Armstrong, chairman of the Personnel and Communications Committee.

Armstrong said a benefit of employing Foster & Buick compared to the village’s previous legal counsel is that the new firm will charge for just one hour of work per village meeting, regardless of how long the meeting lasts. Because of that cost reduction, the village also will be able to employ its attorney for committee meetings, where legal counsel is valuable, she said.

“That (committee meetings) is where we really roll up our sleeves and get into details,” Armstrong said.

MP Village attorney: New committees operating legally

Trustees will vote on formal ordinance to establish them
by Martha Quetsch
Maple Park—New village committees that Maple Park President Kathy Curtis formed after being elected in April have been meeting even though the Village Board has not approved an ordinance formally creating the committees.

“The new committees have been working, as our legal counsel advised that we could,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

The Village Board will vote on the official ordinance establishing the village’s three new committees at its next meeting, Tuesday, Aug. 4, Curtis said.

Curtis in May reduced the number of village committees from six to three, with the goal of streamlining work on village issues. The board planned to pass an ordinance July 7 changing the committees’ number, but because of an oversight by village officials, the ordinance was not prepared for the meeting, Curtis said.

Also during the July 7 meeting, trustee Terry Borg asked the village attorney, Pat Bond, whether the new committees could legally operate before the board approves the ordinance.

Bond said they could legally operate only if they were “special committees.” Since that meeting, a lawyer for Bond’s firm, Bond Dixon and Associates, informed Curtis in a letter July 9 that the three new committees arguably are special committees.

“Assuming the trustee members of the new committees were appointed by the Village President as provided in 1-5-6 of the Maple Park Village Code, the committees are arguably special committees and therefore could continue to function as such until the ordinance formally establishing them is adopted,” the lawyer, Keith Letsche said.

The new committees are Personnel and Communications; Finance, Public Relations and Development; and Infrastructure.

Among tasks that the new committees face includes finding and recommending a new police chief, which will be the work of the Personnel and Communications Committee: Curtis wants that to happen by Sept. 9.

The village previously had six committees: Finance, Streets, Water and Sewer, Parks and Grounds, Police and Planning.

In the letter to Curtis, Letsche also stated that any attempt to legally challenge the actions of the three new committees, on the grounds that the ordinance providing for them had not yet be adopted, would likely be unsuccessful. The reason is the creation of committees is not required or provided for by state statute, but is wholly discretionary, and committees do not take final actions on board or council matters, Letsch added.

MP Village withholds sidewalk project payment

Maple Park officials want to make sure all work finished
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park has better, and more, sidewalks since a two-year improvement project costing more than $300,000 was finished recently, village officials said. However, they decided to postpone final payment to the contractor, Strada Construction Company, after hearing a resident’s complaint.

The village temporarily will withhold the last payment, $9,970, to the Addison, Ill., contractor, “so areas of concern can be addressed first,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

Kent Signorella, 109 State St., said the contractor poured cement over a water main valve under the sidewalk along his property and left a trip hazard, and left another segment of sidewalk “sticking up half an inch.”

“I suggest we don’t make final payment,” Signorella said.

The Village Board tabled a motion July 7 to approve final payment to Strada under the $96,315 contract trustees approved in April for Phase II of the sidewalk improvements.

“I still want us to pay (Strada) in a timely manner, but not until the work is done,” trustee Mark Delaney said.

Strada also did Phase I of the sidewalk project, completing it last November; the village paid the company $194,378 for that work in February.

Both phases included replacing sidewalks in the village that were cracked or broken by tree roots, and installing them in areas where sidewalks had not previously been, trustee Cheryl Aldridge said.

State budget includes funding for MP projects

MAPLE PARK—On Monday, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law bills that create the $31 billion “Illinois Jobs Now!” plan. Under the plan, the village of Maple Park will receive $140,000 in funding.

The plan is directed at reviving the Illinois economy through capital construction projects that create and retain jobs. Maple Park will receive $40,000 for the construction of a new public restroom at the Village’s Civic Center and $100,000 for stormwater management.

The village of Maple Park worked with state Rep. Bob Pritchard, (70th Dist.) and state Rep. Kay Hatcher, (50th Dist.), to secure these funds during the budget process.

The village’s Civic Center, a focal point for the community, will get a much-needed and accessible restroom facility for activities at the center, such as baseball games, basketball games, and the Maple Park Fun Fest.

“This improvement to the village’s Civic Center site has been sought after for some time now, and it is finally going to become a reality,” Maple Park trustee Suzanne Fahnestock said.

The stormwater management funding will be applied to issues identified in a 2008 study of flooding that took place in the village as a result of unprecedented rainfall.

“The village has several problem areas where stormwater has caused significant flooding, and the funds will assist in remediation efforts in these areas,” Village President Kathy Curtis said.

The village looks forward to putting these funds to work as soon as they become available, Fahnestock said.

New policy: Staff not required at board meetings

Curtis wants to formalize policies, procedures
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—Under a new policy for the village of Maple Park, village employees are not obligated to attend Village Board meetings.

The Village Board approved the policy July 7.

“This eliminates the (previous) requirement for employees to attend, unless they are asked to attend,” trustee Mark Delaney said.

Village President Kathy Curtis said the employee attendance requirement was never an official policy; however, the board agreed that a policy was needed and that it should not make staff attendance at board meetings mandatory.

“We established this policy to establish/document the standard operation procedure that previously did not exist,” Curtis said.

Curtis added that village employees and residents can expect to see a pattern of formalizing policy and procedures over the next four years.

“As Maple Park anticipates growth, village hall needs to be positioned to function efficiently and effectively,” Curtis said. “Our goal is to continually improve.”

New committees can’t start without ordinance

Document not ready for trustees’ vote as expected
by Martha Quetsch
MAPLE PARK—New village committees that Maple Park President Kathy Curtis formed after being elected in April cannot begin meeting until the Village Board approves an ordinance allowing for government structure change.

One of the new committees, Personnel and Communications, met June 22. During Tuesday’s Village Board meeting, trustee Terry Borg asked the village attorney, Pat Bond, whether the new committees could legally operate before the board approves the ordinance.

“No, unless you establish them as special committees,” Bond said.

Curtis in May reduced the number of village committees from six to three, with the goal of streamlining work on village issues. The board planned to pass an ordinance July 7 changing the committees’ number, but because of an oversight by village officials, the ordinance was not prepared for Tuesday’s meeting, Curtis said.

The village is expected to prepare the ordinance for trustees to vote on at their next board meeting, Tuesday, July 22.

The new committees will be Personnel and Communications; Finance, Public Relations and Development; and Infrastructure.

Under village ordinance, the village may have six committees: Finance, Streets, Water and Sewer, Parks and Grounds, Police and Planning. In place for the past several years, they have not functioned since Curtis announced their disbandment.

Among tasks that the new committees face includes finding and recommending a new police chief, which will be the work of the Personnel and Communications Committee: Curtis wants that to happen by Sept. 9.

Proposed Maple Park Committees
• Personnel and Communications
• Finance
• Public Relations and Development
• Infrastructure

Starting from scratch

MP’s search for police chief begins anew, targets Sept. 9
by Martha Quetsch
Maple Park—Maple Park village trustee Debra Armstrong, in charge of the search for a new police chief, said the village is starting from scratch in this endeavor.

“We are not using how we have done things in the past as a marker,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong said she and other members of the new Personnel and Communications Committee are researching everything associated with the position to create a job description and salary. They intend to place the opening online and in newspapers as soon as that work is done.

“We are doing our due diligence before we post the position,” Armstrong said.

Part of that legwork will involve consulting with Kane and DeKalb counties’ sheriff’s departments about what the village should seek in a new chief.

As of yet, she does not know whether the job will be full- or part-time.

Currently, the Maple Park Police Department has a part-time officer in charge and several part-time officers.

Village President Kathy Curtis wants the committee to select a new police chief by Sept. 9.

The Maple Park Police Department has been without a police chief since village officials decided 13 months ago not to re-appoint former Police Chief Steve Yahnke.

Yahnke, while working part-time as Maple Park’s police chief, also was employed full time at the Kane County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Pat Perez opposed Yahnke’s working for both law enforcement agencies, saying he should not wear two badges.

During her campaign this spring for village president, Curtis said the lack of leadership on the former Police Committee delayed the hiring process. Curtis eliminated the committee.

Saving lives on the rails

Community officials from area villages, including Maple Park village president Kathy Curtis and Planning Commissioner Dale Weir, boarded a special train Tuesday in Elburn, as part of Operation Lifesaver. The goal of the trip, which went all the way to Sterling, Ill., was to educate those onboard about crossing safety by giving a first-hand look at what crew members experience while traveling down the rails.
Photo by Ben Draper

2,391
The number of collisions in the
United States in 2008.

147
Illinois ranks No. two in the United States
in highway-rail grade crossing
collisions in 2008 with 147.
Only Texas, with 228, ranks higher.

26
Of those 147 collisions, 26 resulted
in fatalities—the highest in the country.

60
Of the 147 collisions, 60 resulted in injuries,
ranking Illinois fourth in the country.

Source: Operation Lifesaver website