Tag Archives: Sean Michels

Short-term pain, long-term gain

Sugar Grove prepares for more road construction than usual
by Susan O’Neill
Village President Sean Michels said that travelers in and around Sugar Grove may encounter more construction than usual this year, thanks to government and grant money from the Kane County Transportation (KDOT) Impact Fee Program, Local Agency Pavement Preservation (LAPP) awards and the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) stimulus package.

Michels asks residents for their patience throughout this year’s construction season.

“Many road improvement projects are ready to begin not only in Sugar Grove but throughout Illinois,” Michels said. “Keep in mind that these improvements will eventually make your motoring experience safer as well as bring the infrastructure needed to aid economic development. However, for now these projects may necessitate finding alternate routes, watching for detours and allowing additional travel time to reach your destination.”

The project long-awaited by local residents to improve visibility and motorist safety at the Bliss and Merrill road intersection began Monday. The start date for the project funded by KDOT impact fees is somewhat sooner than originally anticipated.

The improvements involve lowering the elevation or hill area approaching the intersection and straightening out the curve at the intersection. Two left turn lanes will be added, one to turn left onto Merrill when traveling northeast on Bliss and the other to turn left onto Bliss when traveling south on Merrill.

According to a written release from KDOT Director of Transportation Carl Schoedel, Bliss Road at the intersection of Merrill Road will be closed for approximately four months while KDOT crews reconstruct the intersection.

KDOT will post signage prior to the road closure to alert area motorists of the upcoming closure and to redirect motorists to a marked detour route around the construction site. The detour route will use Route 47 and Main Street Road.

KDOT anticipates completion of the project by November 2009. For additional information about the project and detours, residents may visit www.co.kane.il.us/DOT or call (630) 816-9671.

Michels said the village will also be performing normal maintenance to village streets in the coming months, in addition to the several projects funded through LAPP awards. While this routine maintenance should not have a major impact on residents and others traveling in and through the community, the LAPP projects may cause short-term lane closures.

The village received LAPP funding for three road projects, which provides approximately 75 percent of the cost of the project. Local funds provide the rest. The Prairie Street project is also being supplemented by ARRA funds, reducing the local share to approximately 20 percent. The scope of work for these three projects is surface removal and resurfacing including patching, shoulders, striping, reflective crack control and restoration.

Other project information is available at www.sugar-grove.il.us.

Re-elected officials look foward to continuing work

by Susan O’Neill
The incumbents elected by Sugar Grove voters on April 7 for village president and two of the three Village Board seats did not take their victories for granted.

The two top vote getters, Bob Bohler with 733 votes, and Tom Renk with 661 votes, have served on the board for 12 and 10 years, respectively. Incumbent Village President Sean Michels won with close to a 2:1 margin.

“We all felt … that we were on the right track,” Bohler said. “Sometimes you don’t know how what you’re doing is being perceived, but I guess if you don’t hear any complaints, you assume people think you’re doing all right.”

Trustee Tom Renk said that prior to the election he did not have high expectations because of the trend for change.

“I wasn’t sure how this election would turn out,” he said. “I’m grateful to those who supported my efforts.”

Renk predicts that the village will no longer see the large commercial and retail developers pounding on its doors, and that the board will need to work harder at creating win-win annexation agreements with future developers.

He said the village will need to become more flexible in lot size, open space and building materials requirements, and that flexibility will allow the market to dictate what will sell. He said diversity in housing will be the key to a vibrant community.

“Many developers have said they don’t want to work with us and I want to try and change that, so they’re not jumping over us and going to the Plainfields, the Yorkvilles and even the Elburns,” he said.

Bohler said he is happy to be able to move forward with some things he feels he has not yet accomplished, such as obtaining disaster emergency management certification for Sugar Grove. He is glad that he won, but he said he thought the voters had all good choices in the election.

The one challenger to win, Rick Montalto, came in third in the race for village trustee with 627 votes.

“These are all good people,” Bohler said of the candidates. “Each had their own ideas for how to improve the community.”

Bliss Road Closure Update

The Kane County Department of Transportation begins major work on Monday, April 20 at the intersection at Bliss and Merrill roads. Bliss Road from Route 47 to Main Street Road will be closed to through traffic beginning Monday for four months. The Sugar Grove Police Department will be as active as possible in strictly enforcing local traffic only.

The detour rerouting of traffic away from the area means increased traffic on neighboring streets and subdivisions (and their neighbors). With the nicer weather and school out soon for the summer, children will be out playing, riding their bikes and crossing streets to get to their friends, the park, or chasing a lost ball into streets. Village President Sean Michels asks that residents and others take special precautions in driving through these neighborhoods.

The improvements to the intersection will improve motorists’ visibility and will ultimately mean safer driving for all in the area, Michels said.

source: press release

Troop 7 celebrates 85 years

March 1 was a day of celebration for Boy Scout Troop 7 in Elburn. An 85th anniversary dinner and Court of Honor was held at Kaneland High School and attended by nearly 200 people. The attendees included past and present Troop 7 members and leaders along with their families, including the Mayor of Elburn, Dr. Jim Willey (adult volunteer) and Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels (Troop 7 Senior Patrol Leader and Life Scout).

The afternoon program, emceed by Senior Patrol Leader John Michek, included remarks by Elburn Village President Jim Willey, who issued a proclamation setting March 1, 2009, as Boy Scout Troop 7 Day in Elburn.

Former Scoutmaster Charles Schmidt presented the Eagle Scout award to Sam McQuilkin. Based upon current records, 81 Troop 7 members have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout since the 1924 chartering. A total of 24 Eagle Scouts were present and recognized during the celebration-20 of whom were from Troop 7. Recognized also were Troop 7 scoutmasters, of which there have been 24.

Plaques were presented to three special friends of Troop 7: Tom Spalding, Randy Ream/Elburn Market and the Needham family, honoring them for their outstanding support and service to the Troop. Certificates of appreciation were presented to the volunteers who compose the Troop Committee and the committee which planned the 85th celebration. Also recognized were the sponsors of the event, C&D Auto Body and Fleck & Ulrich LTD of Elburn.

A video montage depicting each of the 12 Scout Laws was shown during the reception and dinner, along with a slide show of Troop 7 activities, created by Troop Historian Andrew Carroll.

Adult leaders displayed Scout uniforms dating back as far as the 1950s, Boy Scout books from their days as Scouts and various badges and patches. Each patrol set up a display to demonstrate a typical campsite: a tent, backpack, cooking equipment and knots that would be used around the camp.

Concluding the afternoon’s ceremonies was the Court of Honor, presenting merit badges, rank advancements, an Ad Altare Dei award and Philmont scarves to the Scouts of Troop 7.

The Community Congregational Church of Elburn is the chartering organization and has provided support and meeting space to the Troop for 85 years.

Letter: Thank you for your vote of confidence

I would like to thank the voters for their vote of confidence on April 7, when I was re-elected village president. I am excited about the future of Sugar Grove and look forward to serving as village president for the next four years.

I would also like to thank my wife, Valerie, and kids, as well as my friends, old and new, for their hard work on my behalf to get me re-elected.

A local election is no longer a one-person project. The work to get information out door-to-door, make phone calls, place yard signs and so on, is a lot of work for a village the size of Sugar Grove. As the saying goes, many hands make light work.

Just because the election is over doesn’t mean that I am not listening or willing to answer questions. I am always available to talk about what is going on around town. Please feel free to contact me through the village’s website, attend a board meeting or join me at a Coffee with the Mayor event to ask your questions. I enjoy talking about the future of the village.

Again, I sincerely appreciate the trust that you have bestowed in me, and I look forward to serving the next four years.

P. Sean Michels
Village President
Sugar Grove

SG voters help Michels keep seat

Michels defeats Clark in village president race, 957-514
by Susan O’Neill
Incumbent Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels emerged the winner by a large margin on Tuesday, with 63 percent of the vote. Challenger Perry Clark received 34 percent of the vote.

“It’s a big relief,” Michels said on Wednesday. “You just never know. I didn’t want to get over-confident.”

Michels said he and his family had worked hard on his campaign, walking door-to-door and making phone calls. This is the first time that Michels has been challenged for his position as village president. He said he also received a lot of support from friends old and new during the campaign, and called it a “humbling” experience.

Michels said he sees the results as confirmation from the residents that they like what he and the board have been doing for the village.

“I hope performance is a big indicator,” he said.

He said he thinks the residents are happy with how the town is growing in a controlled way. He also thinks the village needs to keep bringing in a variety of housing, not just “affordable” housing.

“We do need starter homes, but we also need higher-end homes,” he said. “Settler’s Ridge is a good example of that mix.”

He added that Sugar Grove wisely decided not to reduce its developer fees simply to bring in more housing. Michels said the village has always based its impact fees on professional studies of growth.

“I don’t know how to prove to people that the market dictates what type of housing will sell,” he said. “If impact fees alone sold housing, more developments would be full.”

Michels said that with the current housing slow-down, it is a good time for the village to re-evaluate its previous projections for growth and re-adjust fees based on what is needed for the future.

He said he realizes that the lack of infrastructure has been a weakness for Sugar Grove in drawing more commercial development. He said there will be a lot going on in Sugar Grove in the near future, with major resurfacing of roads such as Route 47, 56 and 30. He is excited about HondaJet coming to the Aurora Airport, and he thinks the Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard extension will put the village in a good position to attract new businesses.

“We just need to get out and sell Sugar Grove over the next four years,” he said.

Although Clark was disappointed with the outcome, he said he was glad he ran and was able to bring his issues before the people of Sugar Grove.

“The results showed me that the community is looking for more of a slow growth-type mode,” Clark said.

Clark called Michels on Tuesday night to congratulate him. He said he backs him and wishes him and the new board well.

“I told him, ‘You’re my village president now,’” he said. “I’m part of a community, not the community,” he said. “I have to support that.”

April 7 Sugar Grove election results

The following unofficial results are courtesy of Kane County. Winners are listed in bold.

Sugar Grove Village President

P. Sean Michels    957
Perry “PC” Clark    514

Sugar Grove Village Board

Joseph R. Wolf    600
Robert E. Bohler    733
David Paluch    601
Rick Montalto    627
Thomas F. Renk    661
Mary E. Heineman (Write-in): 450

Sugar Grove Community House Board

Vote for three
Stan L. Schumacher    957
Dan Long    938
Lillie Adams    1077

Tim M. Wilson    875

Sugar Grove Public Library Board

6-year term
Art Morrical    1352

Sugar Grove Public Library Board

Unexpired 4-year term
Joan R. Roth    942
Sabrina Malano    545

Sugar Grove Public Library Board

Unexpired 2-year term
William Wulff    327
Julie K. Wilson    794
Christina Cella    389

Sugar Grove Public Library Referendum

Yes    770
No    1277

Both SG candidates bring experience to race

by Susan O’Neill
Both candidates running for Sugar Grove village president have experience with village government. The challenger, Perry Clark, served on the Village Board for six-and-a-half years, and the incumbent, Sean Michels, has been the village president since 1999 and on the board since 1995.

Sean Michels
Village President Sean Michels said he is running for re-election because he wants to continue working to realize the current vision of Sugar Grove. He said he thinks he has done a good job during his terms, but there is a lot more that Sugar Grove can do.

He cites the recent recognitions the village has received, including Business Week’s choice for best affordable town in Illinois in 2007, an increase in Sugar Grove’s Standard & Poor’s bond rating from A to A+ in 2008, the Governmental Financial Statement and Budget Award from 2001 to present, Environmental Protection Agency Conservation Design Award for Settler’s Ridge Subdivision and Chicago Region Public Works Project of the Year Award in 2007 for its innovative water system in Settler’s Ridge.

Among his accomplishments, he counts $65 million in capital activity in commercial infrastructure improvements, including the Galena Boulevard and Municipal Drive extension and the water main extension to the Kaneland Harter Road Middle School.

He prides himself on the village’s planning for the future, including the creation of water, transportation and land use plans. He said the village has worked aggressively to bring federal and state tax dollars to the community, and has obtained more than $5 million in grants for infrastructure improvement. He said the village has improved its water quality, resurfaced roads, built new wells, all without raising residents’ property taxes.

His top three goals, if he is re-elected, are to continue to work with retail developers and developers for the High Point business park to diversify the tax base; work toward a full interchange for Interstate 88 and Route 47 and find funding sources to attract additional businesses; and increase two-way communication with all residents.

He said he wants to link all of the bike trails in the area together, and build a bridge over Blackberry Creek. He said open space is important to Sugar Grove, and does not think the 40 percent requirement for every development has been a big issue.

He said that although many people think Sugar Grove’s fees are too high, the village can justify its impact fees with research on the costs of development. He said he wants to make development pay for itself.

“Residents are tired of paying higher taxes,” he said.

He said his banking experience has helped with handling the village’s finances and the budget processes. He said the village is in good financial shape, even with the down economy, and the village has a surplus because he and other village officials have been proactive in cutting staff and other expenses.

He said he has relied on his building experience to help establish standards for good architectural designs and features, and the village has created an architectural review committee to hold developers to high standards.

He said Sugar Grove is a very desirable place to live. He said high-end developers such as Forest City have recognized Sugar Grove for its median income, which he said is the fifth-highest in the area. He said he is not in favor of reducing the impact fees, which are needed to pay for infrastructure improvements, and that each household would have to spend $250,000 in Sugar Grove to offset a $5,000 reduction in impact fees.

Perry Clark
Clark said he is running for village president because he feels the processes by which developments are approved are too lengthy and costly to both the village and developers. He said the village of Sugar Grove is not looked upon as a business-friendly community, and it needs to change that image.

He said that in order to diversify the tax base, the village needs to aggressively market itself, and approve development that will increase the daytime population. However, he said that retail and commercial development will not come without rooftops, and so an emphasis should be placed on bringing in residential development. He said the demographic criteria for attracting retail development has only increased during the last 18 months.

If elected, he said he would work with the Village Board to create a negotiable and non-negotiable list for staff to use in working with developers. He would reduce the approval process to no more than 45 days, at which point the village would tell the developer yes or no. Then, the annexation agreement could be negotiated.

He said he would work to provide true quality of life in Sugar Grove, and would work to fix a failing storm water management system. He said the village needs to take the lead on these issues, and create a cost-sharing method to identify and fix the problems.

He wants to provide residents the opportunity to shop in Sugar Grove, and said the village will have to use incentives to bring retailers into the village. He said that there are creative ways of accomplishing this without giving away too much. Examples of this could include the provision of water and sewer systems, an incentive package based on bringing in stores within a certain timeframe, or a waiver of half the building fees.

He said he is the best candidate because he has been on both sides of the fence, both as a village trustee and as a businessman, and he feels he can speak on behalf of both. He said his strong leadership skills can bring people together to work on a shared goal. He believes he is a good communicator and a good listener as well as speaker.

He said he is enjoying campaigning for the job. He said with himself and Michels, the village has two passionate people that love Sugar Grove and have similar visions for its future. They just have different philosophies for how to get there, he said.

Sean Michels

• Birthplace: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
• 19 years in Sugar Grove
• Occupation: General contractor for McCue
Builders, Inc.; builds custom and
semi-custom homes
• Education: Associate’s Degree, Business,
B.S. Finance and Economics, MBA
• Family: Married, 4 children
• Community involvement: Coach,
Sugar Grove Park District, Board of
Directors, Silver Stars Girls Basketball,
Junior Achievement instructor, Sunday
school teacher, St. Mark’s; Elburn Lions
Club member, Metro West Executive
Board member, Kaneland School District
Finance Advisory Committee member.
• Previous offices: Sugar Grove Park
District trustee 1995-1997, Sugar Grove
village trustee appointed in 1995,
elected 1997-1999, Sugar Grove village
president appointed in 1999, elected 2001
and 2005.

Perry Clark
• Birthplace: Aurora
• 12 years in Sugar Grove
• Occupation: VP, Innovations Consulting
(helps convention and business bureaus
bring sporting events to town), President,
Coaches’ Backyard Grill, Inc. (owner,
several bars and restaurants). Executive
Director, Sugar Grove Economic
Development Corporation from
2004-2008.
• Education: Attended College of DuPage,
Western Illinois University
• Family: Married, one daughter in college
• Community involvement: Head Women’s
Softball Coach, Waubonsee Community
College, Sugar Grove Chamber of
Commerce and Industry member, Sugar
Grove Corn Boil volunteer, Past
President, Sugar Grove JayCees,
coached various youth sports for Sugar
Grove Park District, Sugar Grove Library
Friends member.
• Previous offices: Sugar Grove Village
trustee 6.5 years

Re-elect Sean Michels for Sugar Grove village president

I am P. Sean Michels and I am proud and honored to be the Village President of Sugar Grove. I ask that you vote for me on Tuesday, April 7, 2009.

I have served as village president for the past nine years. Along with the Village Board, we have worked hard to make Sugar Grove a desirable place to live and work.

The board and I are working hard to bring in new businesses to Sugar Grove to diversify our tax base to reduce taxes. I do not believe, however, that reducing our impact fees or building standards to bring thousands of homes into town is the way to attract retail.

The sales tax will benefit the village, but the other taxing bodies, such as the Kaneland School District, will only receive property taxes.

Further, as the other candidates claim, residential must come first to attract the retail. Then I ask, who will pay for the new schools and infrastructure until the retail comes, if impact fees are reduced? The only answer is that current residents would be asked to approve more referendums.

Look at an Oswego tax bill. The village rate is the lowest in the area, but they pay more in taxes due to the school district. My approach is that Sugar Grove must work to attract commercial development. This can be done now that sewer and water are at the site of Hi Point Business Center, a 180-acre business park west of Waubonsee Community Center. This infrastructure was recently extended to the new Kaneland Middle School and looped around Hi Point, which will significantly reduce the development costs for this business park. This has taken some time to be completed, but this was a very expensive project that the village could not undertake by itself.

Under my tenure as Village President, Sugar Grove has maintained a strong financial position. The village went from an “A” rating by Standard and Poor’s in 2006, to an “A+” rating in 2008. This was based on good fiscal practices that have helped the village maintain very strong financial reserves. This conservative approach in spending will help the village through these tough economic times.

We have spent tax dollars wisely to improve or repair our infrastructure. We have improved water quality, added water storage, looped and extended mains while not raising taxes. We do regular maintenance on the sewer system, and do annual inspections to make the system efficient. We will be improving the dangerous intersection of Bliss Road and Merrill Road, and resurfacing Hankes and Wheeler roads, all with grants or matching funds, costing the village a fraction of the total cost. We realize there are other infrastructure needs, which we are currently working on.

Under my leadership, the village has made many plans to prepare for growth. We have been recognized by Kane County for our planning efforts. We work with our neighboring communities to plan for road and bike trail extensions. We have negotiated boundary agreements with Aurora, North Aurora, Montgomery, Yorkville, Plano and Batavia. We have tried to work with Elburn and Big Rock, but they have not wanted to negotiate an agreement.

I again ask that you vote for me on April 7. Please look beyond the campaign rhetoric. It would be a great honor to serve four more years.

P. Sean Michels
Sugar Grove

Village to extend water main between Prairie Glen, Dugan Woods

by Susan O’Neill
The Sugar Grove Village Board on March 3 agreed to extend the water main between Prairie Glen Subdivision along Route 30 and Municipal Drive and Dugan Woods Subdivision to the west.

Engineering Enterprises, Inc. estimated the cost of the project at $417,000, including engineering and construction.

According to Village President Sean Michels, between $400,000 and $415,000 is left over from the bond issuance not used for the Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard extensions available for the project. In addition, he said that funding from the existing water and sewer tap-on fees would be sufficient to fill in the gap.

The extension will enable the village to provide better water service to both subdivisions by improving overall water quality, ensuring adequate fire flow in case of an emergency and eliminating two sections of dead-end water main, Director of Public Works Tony Speciale said.

The board will vote on the project at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

Residents seek flooding resolution

by Susan O’Neill
Mallard Point residents still had questions for the village on Tuesday night after project engineer Mark Bushnell explained the findings of his inspection of their storm water management system.

Bushnell, a project engineer with Trotter and Associates, said he found mud and overgrown vegetation blocking the water flow from the subdivision, causing the neighborhood’s drainage problems and flooding. Bushnell said the blockages are likely the work of beavers and muskrats.

Blockages of the structures created to allow the storm water to drain has increased the level of the subdivision’s retention pond two feet higher and the wetlands to the south two-and-a-half feet higher than they should be. Bushnell estimated that there are 17 acres of excess storm water in the area.

The Village Board agreed to hire a contractor or have public works employees remove six inches of the vegetation blocking the structure at the southern edge of the development to allow the water to drain slowly to the south.

Village President Sean Michels said he was reluctant to clear out the entire blockage at once, because this would flood the property to the south. This property, which includes the retention pond, belongs to long-time area resident and Police Chief Brad Sauer.

But Mallard Point residents present at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting wanted to know why the village did not do more to protect the homeowners when the development was initially built.

When construction began on the Mallard Point Subdivision in the early 1990s, the developer improved an existing wetland for use as a storm water management facility. The first developer went bankrupt, and construction was completed by another developer who took over the project.

Typically, a homeowners association regulates maintenance in the common areas of a subdivision and collects fees with which to pay for it. Although there was a clause in the annexation agreement for the creation of a homeowners association, one was never formed.

During previous meetings with the village, Mallard Point residents have complained of standing water, flooded basements and excessive electric bills to continually run two and sometimes three sump pumps.

“Mistakes were made, and the village needs to take ownership,” said Blair Peters, who lives on Brookhaven Circle within the subdivision.

Trustee Mary Heineman said that unfortunately, the village is now learning from mistakes that were made at the time the subdivision was built.

Michels said that once the debris is removed, the next step would be to identify a list of items necessary for ongoing maintenance of the property.

“This would give us the ability to price that out,” he said. “Then, we’ll see what is involved.”

Village attorney Steven Andersson said there is a clause in the annexation agreement, which includes the Rolling Oaks Subdivision, that would allow the formation of a Special Services Area. Through the SSA, the village could charge residents an annual fee for the ongoing maintenance of the storm water system.

Trustee Mari Johnson said that although she sympathized with the Mallard Point residents, she wanted to make sure they understood that the trustees were not making a commitment for the village to fix the problem. She said there were a number of neighborhoods with drainage and flooding issues, and the village has to be fiscally responsible to the entire community.

Trustee Tom Renk said he believes it is the role of government to step in and take care of things that the residents cannot. Although he added that the homeowners have some responsibility for fixing the problems, he said he felt a commitment to work with them.

“A whole bunch of things have fallen through the cracks,” he said. “I think it’s our duty to follow through on this process.”

However, he added that the village could not write a blank check.

After the meeting, trustee Kevin Geary, also a Mallard Point resident, said he did not think that anything was resolved. He said that during the most recent rain, he had three inches of water in his own basement, and he did not think that dropping the height of the blockage by six inches would take care of the problem.

“Right now, we’ve got residents whose basements are flooding,” he said. “It’s a life-safety issue.”

There are approximately 250 residences in Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks combined.

Public invited to Candidate’s Night March 19

Sugar Grove Candidates Night will take place on Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m. at 141 Main St. at the Community House in Sugar Grove.

Incumbent Village President Sean Michels is challenged by Perry Clark, former director of the Sugar Grove Economic Development Corporation.

There are three open village trustee positions. The five candidates are Robert E. Bohler, Rick Montalto, David Paluch, Thomas Renk and Joseph Wolf.

There are two open two-year library trustee positions. The three candidates are Christina Cella, Julie Wilson and William Wulff. There is one four-year term available. The two candidates are Sabrina Malano and Joan Roth.

There are three Kaneland School District Board open positions. The five candidates are Jonathan H. Berg, Kenneth L. Carter, Elmer Gramley, Cheryl Krauspe and Pedro Rivas.

There are three Sugar Grove Township Community House Board open positions. The four candidates are Lillie Adams, Dan Long, Stam Schumacher and Tim Wilson.

Each candidate in attendance will be introduced. Contested race candidates will provide a two-minute statement. Candidates for village president and village trustee will take part in a forum in which they will be asked a variety of questions.

Citizens may submit questions for the candidates in advance by sending an e-mail to Shari Baum, Executive Director, Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce and Industry at sbaum@ sugargrovechamber.org.

Village to receive stimulus dollars for roads

by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove may soon reap the benefits of the federal government’s stimulus package. The Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) list of proposed highway improvement projects funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes $1.4 million to resurface portions of Route 47 and the Route 56 ramp.

IDOT several weeks ago released a draft list of 289 projects, including 698 miles of highway, intersection and bridge repairs, for a total of $693 million.

“We’re happy to see some of the money come back,” Sugar Grove Village President Sean Michels said. “It’s long overdue.”

Michels said he appreciates the lobbying efforts of board members and village staff as they contacted legislators and IDOT directly.

“They’ve been working hard to bring our tax dollars back to our community,” he said.

IDOT spokesperson Paris Ervin said the projects on the list were chosen based on their readiness for construction. The shovel-ready projects will be included in the award process for bidding in April, and construction will begin immediately.

“The principal intent of the stimulus package was to put people to work this summer,” Ervin said.

IDOT District engineers had already deemed the projects necessary, due to safety issues, the condition of the roads and bridges, public communication and traffic.

The funding will come in two waves, the first of which must be spent within the first 120 days. The second half must be used within a year, and most likely will be used for the 2010 construction season, according to IDOT Director of Planning and Programs Dick Smith.

Smith said the total cost of the projects is somewhat higher than Illinois’s allotment. In the case that other states do not have sufficient road projects ready for construction, Illinois could receive their additional funding.

No matching funds from the state are required to receive the funding. However, the Illinois General Assembly must pass a supplemental appropriations bill that approves spending the money.

Sugar Grove Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said the village is pleased that IDOT has chosen the roads it did for the funding.

“We’re hopeful they do get funded and the work gets done,” he said. “No one would disagree that the work needs to be done.”

Eichelberger said there will be a regional benefit for the road improvements, with the use these roads see from traffic south of Sugar Grove.

“The benefits go well beyond Sugar Grove residents,” he said.

Sugar Grove village notes

by Susan O’Neill

Village awards roadway lighting contract
The Village Board awarded a bid for construction of roadway lighting for Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard extensions to Wheaton-based Thome Electric, Inc. The company’s bid came in at $110,000 less than Engineering Enterprise Inc.’s estimate of $215,000.

Director of Public Works Tony Speciale said he thought the savings was due to the competitive market. For a job that typically brings in three to five bids, Speciale said the village received 21 bids.
Construction is expected to be completed in July.

Village awards water main bid
The Village Board awarded a bid for construction of the Route 47 and Wheeler Road water main improvements to Yorkville-based H. Linden & Sons Sewer and Water, Inc. The cost came in at $890,000, approximately $350,000 lower than EEI’s estimate. Construction is expected to be complete by June 1.

The savings were realized from the amount the village expected to pay when the initial bids went out in August 2008. At that time, the easements needed to accomplish the job had not been obtained. Village President Sean Michels said the lower cost is the result of the current competitive market.

Michels recommended using the $350,000 in savings for water improvements elsewhere in the village. Two projects he mentioned were connecting the water main from Prairie Glen to Dugan Woods and from Settler’s Ridge to Mallard Point.

Update on Mallard Point study
Director of Public Works Tony Speciale told Mallard Point residents on Tuesday that Trotter & Associates is about one-half to three-quarters through the initial inspection phase of the flooding problems in their subdivision.

Speciale said the Village Board should receive a report during the first week of March on what he finds. He clarified that the 21 days allotted for the project mean 21 business days, for a total of four, not three weeks, as residents had initially thought.

Village approves easement for middle school water main
The Village Board authorized an easement agreement between the village, GG Stavros Harter and the Kaneland School District for constructing a water main out to the Kaneland Middle School on Harter Road. This is the fifth parcel for which an easement was required.

Village adopts updated codes
The Village Board adopted certain updated mechanical, fuel gas, property maintenance, electrical, plumbing building, energy and residential codes. According to Community Development Director Rich Young, the codes are in line with Sugar Grove’s Fox Valley neighbors, and the goal is to standardize them throughout Kane County.

Behind the scenes of progress

by Susan O’Neill
Storefronts, factories and offices demonstrate the visible presence of a business to the public. Organizations such as a chamber of commerce, economic development corporation or small business development center, while not as much in the public eye, can nonetheless have a tremendous impact on the local business community.

Chambers of commerce
Elburn and Sugar Grove each have a chamber of commerce that serves its business community. The Elburn chamber’s mission, similar to that of Sugar Grove’s, is to promote economic development, strengthen the business climate and improve the quality of life in the area.

Each chamber has leads groups, through which members network to share business opportunities and referrals. Members are encouraged to promote each other’s businesses and utilize each other’s services whenever possible.

The chambers sponsor events within the community, such as Elburn’s Day in the Park and the Sugar Grove Farmer’s Market. Both groups hold an annual golf outing. They sponsor grand openings to announce the presence of new businesses to the community.

The chambers also provide exposure for their members through their mailing lists and websites. Sugar Grove Chamber Board President George Silfugarian said the Sugar Grove Chamber recently set up a new website that provides its members more functionality and opportunities for advertising. Silfugarian is a certified financial planner with Financial Security Group, Inc.

Businesses also enjoy visibility when their members participate in chamber activities within the community.

“People get what they give,” Elburn Chamber Board President Bill Brauer said. Brauer, president of the American Bank and Trust on Main Street, has been involved in many of the chamber’s activities. “When you get more involved, you’re more visible in the community.”

Predominantly a volunteer organization, the Sugar Grove chamber recently hired its first employee, executive director Shari Baum. Two years ago, the Elburn chamber hired its first office administrator.

Both groups have seen significant membership growth in the last five years. Elburn’s chamber grew from 130 members to 189 at the end of 2008. Sugar Grove’s is currently at 160 members, up from 50 five years ago.

For more information, visit www.elburn.com or www.sugargrove-chamber.org.

Economic Development Corporation
Sugar Grove created the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in 2003. Its purpose was to work with existing businesses to help them thrive and grow and promote the village to other businesses as a good place to locate their operations.

The EDC is a combined initiative between the village of Sugar Grove and local businesses. However, it is a private entity, not a governmental unit. The distinction has allowed businesses to explore options for locating within the community without the initial publicity.

The organization started out with five founding member businesses, and hired former Sugar Grove trustee Perry Clark as executive director at the end of 2003. Three years later, membership consisted of 37 businesses.

During his tenure, Clark and other village officials marketed the village of Sugar Grove to potential industries and other businesses and attended the International Council of Shopping Centers to promote the village to retailers.

EDC membership grew until the recent downturn in the economy led to a decrease in its size and budget. Clark resigned from his leadership position in August 2008 to run for village president, and the organization found it did not have adequate funding for a full-time replacement.

According to Village President Sean Michels, the EDC has been put into hibernation mode until the economy begins to pick up again.

Illinois Small Business Development Center Waubonsee Community College
Funded by the Small Business Association, WCC’s Small Business Development Center provides advice and resources to entrepreneurs considering starting a business, as well as help for existing businesses. Center coordinator and business consultant Harriet Parker said the clients she sees are about equally split between start-ups and existing businesses.

Created in the mid-1990s, Parker said the SMDC at Waubonsee is part of a national network of organizations. Parker, who took over the SMDC in 2006, has 20 years of hands-on management experience with four different start-up companies in the software and high-tech industries.

Clients are often referred to the center through a bank, after they have applied for financing. Parker works with individuals to create a business plan, help them qualify for financing and show them how to complete all the documentation to incorporate a business.

Parker helps current business owners with growth strategies and expansion plans, marketing ideas and in developing the infrastructure necessary to grow to the next level.

She works one-on-one with individuals, and the center also offers classes on topics such as business record keeping and taxes, break-even analysis and how to buy a franchise.

The resources she provides include market research data, competitive analysis and due diligence on a company an individual is looking to acquire, among others. She added that she often connects clients with others who can help them.

“I’m not the expert on everything, but I know a lot of people who are,” she said.

Since Parker came to the center in 2006, she has helped with 48 business starts, the creation of 163 jobs and the retention of 153 jobs. The clients she has advised have received $2.7 million in bank financing.

“I think we’re under-appreciated for the economic impact we have on the area,” she said. “The U.S. economy is the world’s largest. Small businesses in the U.S. make up the world’s second largest economy.

More information about the center is available on the college’s website at www.waubonsee.edu or by calling (630) 906-4143. Parker’s e-mail address is hparker@waubonsee.edu.

Making ‘A to B’ easier

by Susan O’Neill
Next to a land-use plan, a transportation plan for a community or a region may be the most important to establish for a growing area. By developing a transportation plan in conjunction with one for future residential and commercial development, government officials can ensure there are adequate roads to accommodate the increased traffic.

By working with other entities such as developers, the state, county or federal government, and having a plan in place when the money becomes available, a municipality can exercise some control over the necessary road improvements.

Planning ahead for road maintenance precludes the need for more expensive repair down the road. Funding plays a major role in the ability of a village, township or county to accomplish this, as well.

Elburn
The most significant recent transportation development in the Elburn area has been the extension of the Metra train line west to the village. With an average of 250 to 300 cars per day in the parking lot, the station has exceeded everyone’s expectations, Elburn Village President Jim Willey said.

Elburn Village Administrator Dave Morrison said Metra has requested federal funds to assist with an expansion of the parking lot to accommodate at least another 300 cars. This project should take place in 2009 or 2010.

Willey said the village is actively working with Sho-Deen developers on plans to build around the train station. The biggest hurdle is funding for the expansion of Elburn’s wastewater treatment plant to accommodate the growth.

Willey said it was good to have commercial projects in place at the intersection of Routes 47 and 38 when the recession hit. With Walgreens going up on the northeast corner, there is additional significant business rental opportunity within the Prairie Valley North commercial development where Walgreens is located.

He said the state has plans for a pedestrian signal at the intersection to allow for safe crossing across Route 38 from McDonald’s to the new development. Development of the northwest corner will happen more slowly.

According to Willey, Kane County reports that the exponential increase in traffic counts on Route 47 has begun to level out with the slow-down of the economy. Construction of the Anderson Street overpass, still a county priority, should serve as a functional bypass for local and regional traffic, mitigating some of the excess on Route 47.

Grobmar Investments, LLC, has plans for a multi-tenant retail development at the northwest corner of Keslinger and Route 47, Morrison said. According to Willey, Elburn is working with the Kane County Department of Transportation (KDOT) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for future road improvements in that area.

“However, the cemetery will always be an issue for that corner,” Willey said. “It’s not going anywhere.”

He said there are no solid proposals for the southwest and southeast corners of the intersection.

“A full interchange at I-88 and Route 47 would really benefit Elburn,” Willey said. “Residents have to take a circuitous route to go east on 88.”

Sugar Grove
Sugar Grove is currently extending Municipal Drive north of Route 30 and extending Galena Boulevard west to meet it. Village President Sean Michels said he feels these extensions are important for future commercial and business park development in Sugar Grove. The Municipal Drive extension has proved useful in enticing HondaJet to locate its Midwest operations at the Aurora Municipal Airport.

The village added its own financing to $4 million in funding obtained from the federal government to accomplish these projects.

The roads will provide access for 150 acres of retail development on the southwest side of Route 47 and Galena Boulevard. Plans for extending Municipal Drive farther north to Wheeler Road will facilitate commercial development at the as-yet-undeveloped 180-acre business park, High Pointe Center.

A feasibility study for a full intersection at Interstate 88 and Route 47 is currently under way with funding from the Crown Community Development, the village of Sugar Grove and other property owners in the area. Several years ago, Crown Development proposed a 790-acre mixed-use development around the intersection of Route 47 and Interstate 88 that would benefit from a full interchange there.

Michels said identifying future funding sources such as the Illinois Tollway Highway Authority, developers and IDOT, will be necessary to move the project forward.

Road improvements are scheduled for this spring at Bliss and Merrill roads to make the intersection safer. Blind spots on the road have become more hazardous, as development in the area has led to an increase in traffic. The funding will come from fees collected through Kane County’s recently implemented transportation impact fees.

Michels said the construction of bridges over the Burlington Railroad tracks at Gordon Road and Municipal Drive south of Route 30 would provide alternate routes to Route 47, relieving some of the traffic along the road in that area. The village currently does not have a funding source to accomplish these projects.

Sugar Grove will use more than $1 million of Local Agency Pavement Preservation (LAPP) money for two major overlays at Wheeler and Norris roads. The village will pay $300,000 toward the project, using road impact fees collected from developers. Michels said the village has been able to regularly provide maintenance on village roads and reviews its maintenance plans on a continual basis.

Michels said he thinks the Prairie Parkway will provide an economic benefit to the village, with the Route 30 interchange allowing for easy access.

“Transportation is key to our economic future and our quality of life,” Michels said.

Maple Park
Maple Park recently conducted a transportation study to determine what roads and road improvements were needed to handle increased traffic associated with new residential development. Although development of the John Claire Homes and Grand Pointe Homes projects are both currently on hold, trustee Terry Borg said that once the economy bounces back, progress on these projects and the road improvements will resume.

Two years ago, the village resurfaced selected roads in the old part of the town. With emergency funding, the village built up Main, Elm and Willow streets using crushed rock. With the help of a Kane County Community Development Block Grant, the village rebuilt several sidewalks on the south side of town.

Kaneville
Village President Bob Rodney said Kaneville does not have any road projects planned within the village in the near future. Kaneville Township Road Commissioner Denny Long said the township and village blacktopped most of the roads in the area a few years ago, so they are in fairly good shape.

“We haven’t got the money to consider any improvements for now,” Rodney said.

Regional
IDOT engineer Rick Powell said he is hopeful that the study to widen Route 47 between Yorkville and Sugar Grove will take place this year. This is in addition to the stretch of Route 47 from Interstate 80 to Caton Farm Road that will be widened to four lanes as a part of the Prairie Parkway project.

The Prairie Parkway project, a 35-mile north-south highway to connect Interstate 80 to Interstate 88, received federal approval in September 2008 after a process that lasted seven years.

IDOT is currently purchasing land in the corridor where the road will be built. Powell said 2,600 acres will be needed for the highway, as well as to widen the 12 miles of Route 47 from Caton Farm Road to I-80. As of January 2009, IDOT acquired approximately 250 acres of the land needed.

Construction could begin on the road as early as 2010. The first stretch of road that will be built is the 11 miles between routes 71 and 34, with the next priority between routes 34 and 30.

IDOT has $16 million for the Prairie Parkway project in the highway program budget for 2009, with $72 million set aside for 2010-14.

“We keep receiving money to keep moving forward,” Powell said.

Photo: With a parking lot full of cars, the Elburn Metra station is one of the most significant additions to area transportation in recent years. File Photo

Public services adapt to meet community needs

by Martha Quetsch
As the area’s population has grown, local public officials have responded by expanding fire protection, police and public works services, and they are planning future enhancements, as needed.

Fire protection
When Marty Kunkel became Sugar Grove Township Fire District Chief four years ago, the department had 30 paid on call and six full-time contracted firefighters. Now, the department has 26 full-time firefighters on staff, and 34 paid on call.

The department obtained a $1.3 million federal grant last year to hire more than 10 additional firefighters.

Sugar Grove Township Fire District was able to improve its services further in July 2008, stationing nine firefighters at the Oswego Fire Protection District station at 2200 Galena Road, off of Orchard Road.

“It allows us to better cover the southeast section of the township,” Kunkel said.
Kunkel said the department’s response time to the area is five to eight minutes now, compared to 10 to 12 minutes before.

The Sugar Grove Fire station on Municipal Drive and Route 30 currently services the entire Sugar Grove Township, an area of approximately 34 square miles and an estimated population of more than 15,000 people.

With the addition of a ladder truck in 2006, the Fire Department can provide better protection for multi-story buildings, like those found at Waubonsee Community College.

Another equipment improvement, upgrading the communications system, was done when the department was awarded a federal grant for the project two years ago.

“Now we have a wireless infrastructure for data and radio,” Kunkel said.

The Sugar Grove department built its fire station at 25 Municipal Drive in 2005.
Department officials want to build two more stations, in the west and southwest area of the township, to service future development. Station 2 is planned for a 2.5 acre site at 1650 Denny Road, and the district plans to build Station 3 on a yet-to-be-determined site in the southeast portion of the district.

The district’s ultimate goal is to have five more fire stations, in addition to the current site on Municipal Drive. Kunkel said there is a current need for a station in Montgomery, and district officials are looking for property around Jericho and Gordon roads.

Elburn and Countryside Fire District improved its services to the town’s south side in 2003, when it built a second station on Hughes Road. The other fire station is on North Street in downtown Elburn.

The district consists of three chief officers, a full-time fire prevention officer plan reviewer, 12 full-time firefighter/ paramedics and 45 part-time firefighter/paramedics, and one administrative assistant.

The district’s service area encompasses 75 square miles, including Elburn, Lily Lake, Virgil and the Mill Creek subdivision.

Ambulance
Ambulance service also improved locally. Maple Park started its own ambulance service in 2005 after a successful referendum, and several years ago, Kaneville contracted with Big Rock for ambulance service for $30,000 a year.

Police
The village of Kaneville improved its community policing by contracting with the Kane County Sheriff’s Department more than a year ago to provide extra patrols in the village. The move was in response to many residents’ complaints regarding speeding vehicles on Main Street and Harter Road during the morning and evening commute hours.

The extra patrols are performed by off-duty county officers, using official county vehicles. The county officers have, during the past year, issued many citations and warnings, according to Kaneville officials, who plan to continue contracting for these patrols to control drivers who disregard posted speed limit and stop signs.

The village of Elburn increased its Police Department manpower since Jim Linane was named police chief in 2001. When the village hired Linane, it had seven full-time and three part-time officers, compared to nine full-time and eight part-time officers now, plus a community service officer.

Expanding staff was necessary, since the village population has almost doubled, and calls for police service have gone from 6,400 a year to approximately 20,500, Linane said.

Linane’s goal when he was hired was to improve professionalism in the Police Department.

“Prior to me getting here, it was kind of a revolving door. The department could not hold on to experienced officers,” Linane said. “Officers would come to get experience and then leave; the problem I saw with that type of setup was that the officers tended to be more aggressive and generate more complaints.”

To restore the citizens’ faith in the Police Department, Linane hired an experienced group of officers who average 21 years of experience. He said this strategy has been successful; the department now receives very few citizen complaints regarding policing.

“We have a very low officer turnover now,” Linane said.

Other Elburn Police Department improvements during the past eight years include acquiring a better fleet of vehicles with uniform equipment and installation, Linane said.

“The cars that were here when I got here were poorly equipped and had a lot of miles on them,” Linane said.

The department purchased a community service truck for its new community service officer, and began using older vehicles for secondary use, including administrative take-home cars.

The village a few years ago, obtained a grant from the federal Bullet-Proof Vest Program. The money paid half of the expense of bullet-proof vests for Elburn officers, which cost $600 apiece.

Since 2001, the village has equipped its squad cars and station with upgraded radios and computers. The Police Department also improved its firing range on Thyrisileus Road.

“We doubled the size of it and added the firing range building,” Linane said.

The village relied on donated manpower for the project, including local Boy Scouts for the landscaping.

Elburn Police Department now has a Bike Patrol Program, training three officers to provide police presence in places that are not accessible to squad cars, such as park festivals and other special events.

In March, the Police Department will kick off its Citizens Emergency Response Team, which will utilize volunteers to help keep the community safe.

Also in the future, Elburn may enlarge its police station at the current municipal complex, 301 E. North St., if needed.

The approximate cost of the project, which also would include a larger village hall, is between $21 million to $23.3 million, an estimate that could rise 4 to 6 percent each year, a consultant told the Village Board several months ago.

“We are very cramped for space, not just in square footage but function,” Linane said. “Our station is approximately 1,400 square feet and should be approximately 5,000 square feet for current staffing.

The village would pay for the municipal complex expansion with future development impact fees. Trustees are not planning the project for the near future; however, they want to be prepared if population growth leads to a municipal space shortage.

In the future, Linane will work toward expanding the department’s specialties, including investigations, he said. He also wants to start a Citizens Police Academy, featuring classes and speakers about how Police Department and law enforcement work.

“Citizens will be able to get a better understanding of what the police do,” Linane said. “Most people don’t come in contact to the Police Department. We’re kind of a mystery to them.”

Streets and sewers
Elburn in recent years has replaced several million dollars worth of streets and sidewalks and village officials plan to continue annual improvements. Village President Jim Willey said upgrading Elburn’s worn-out streets was a priority for his administration when he took office 12 years ago.

In Sugar Grove, village officials hope to obtain financing from future developers for a tollway on-ramp from Route 47. The village would first conduct a feasibility study for the project, a $196,000 expense that also will require developer donations. The interchange currently only allows for traffic to access I-88 going west and does not provide an on-ramp to travel east. Residents from north of Sugar Grove must travel south on Route 47 to Route 56, or east to Orchard Road, to access the tollway heading east.

In September 2008, the Federal Highway Administration approved a controversial local road project—the installation of a north-south highway called Prairie Parkway, designed to provide an alternative route for some Route 47 traffic.

Prairie Parkway will extend from I-88 near Kaneville, south to I-80 west of Mokena.

With the federal approval, the state may use about $182 million in federal road funds to begin work on the first five-mile stretch of Prairie Parkway. Further construction will depend on availability of additional funds. The Illinois Department of Transportation has yet to announce when it will begin the first construction phase.

Taking place in conjunction with the Prairie Parkway project will be the state’s widening of Route 47 from I-80 to Caton Farm Road. Sugar Grove officials, including Village President Sean Michels, want the widening to prevent future traffic congestion on this major thoroughfare.

Another planned road project designed to improve traffic flow through Sugar Grove will take place possibly as soon as this summer. The village project will extend Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard from Route 47 west to Route 30. The village received $3.5 million from the federal government for the project.

The road extensions are among projects identified in Sugar Grove’s Transportation Plan for future area transportation needs. Currently, there is no north-south collector road to the west of Illinois Route 47 within the Village. The extensions of Municipal Drive to Galena Boulevard will not only achieve traffic relief in the area but spur economic development within Sugar Grove, village officials said.

As part of the project, the village will extend water and sewer infrastructure along these roads to the site of the new Kaneland Middle School currently under construction on Harter Road.

Wastewater treatment
Elburn’s wastewater treatment plant on Thryselius Drive already is at capacity, village officials said. If Kirk Homes and Sho-Deen Inc. proceed with their developments, the town’s population of nearly 4,800 could triple, necessitating an expansion of the wasterwater treatment plant. The Village Board decided two years ago to require the developers to pay for the future project, which will double the plant’s wastewater capacity at a cost of $14 million. Kirk intends to build about 900 homes just west of Route 47 on the north and south sides of Route 38, and Sho-Deen is planning a 3,000-home development on the east side of Elburn, between Route 38 and Keslinger Road.

In Sugar Grove, the village has initiated a new in-house sanitary sewer preventative maintenance program to further Fox Metro’s work in treating wastewater in Sugar Grove so that it can safely be returned to the environment.

Walgreens delays construction in SG

by Susan O’Neill

The Walgreen Company will delay building in Sugar Grove until 2012.

Until a couple of weeks ago, Sugar Grove officials had been told Walgreens would break ground for a drug store on a 2-acre site at the northwest corner of Route 47 and the Galena Boulevard extension, with plans to open by year’s end.

However, Sugar Grove Community Development Director Rich Young said Walgreens representatives said they are taking a step backward and waiting for the economy to pick up before building in Sugar Grove.

“We’re told it does fit their business model,” Village President Sean Michels said. “We’re disappointed they’re not going to open it sooner.”

At the end of last year, the Village Board reviewed the Walgreens’ plan, as well as plans for the first phase of the 44-acre Prairie Grove Commons development, in which the store would be located. The first phase covers the portion of the property south of The Landings and north of Galena Boulevard extended, on the west side of Route 47.

Michels said the Village Board still plans to approve the annexation agreement with Prairie Grove Commons developers at the next regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 3. The agreement will include approval of the preliminary and final plat of the Walgreens site and a rezoning of the entire property for a commercial Planned Unit Development (PUD).

The developers would have to come back before the board for approval on plans for the remaining lots, those north of Galena Boulevard and west of where the Walgreens will be, as well as those south of Galena to Route 30.

Michels said the developers hope to attract some big box stores, such as Kohl’s, as well as others to the development. They had hoped that the presence of a Walgreens would be a factor in encouraging the others to come.

Although the annexation agreement does not include an economic incentive for Walgreens, the village has worked out the details of an incentive plan to attract some of the larger users. He said the incentive will be in the form of a sales tax rebate to offset some of the developer’s costs for roadway and other improvements.

Michels said the time clock for the incentive package begins running once the annexation agreement is signed. Young said the timeframe for the agreement, which gives the developers a certain percentage of sales tax receipts each year, is for a term of 14 years. He said the agreement is set up to encourage development sooner.

The Walgreen Company, which announced a new chief executive officer on Monday, unveiled a strategy in October 2008 to increase its overall performance, including slowing future store openings to focus on leveraging its more than 6,600 existing stores across the country and Puerto Rico.

According to its website, the company, which remains committed to convenient shopping for its customers through locating stores within five miles of two-thirds of all Americans, is also committed to decreasing its capital spending by $1 billion over the next three years.

“We’re still hopeful that they’ll come sooner than 2012,” Young said. “That’s what we’ve been told for now.”

Flooding still problem for Mallard Point

2/12 updated: On page 7A of the Jan. 29, 2008, edition of the Elburn Herald, Sugar Grove resident Tom Scales’s comments were misconstrued. The flooding he referred to while describing children losing their shoes while walking on the grass was on the local baseball field, not in the yard of his home.

by Susan O’Neill
More than 100 residents of the Mallard Point subdivision in Sugar Grove attended a meeting on Tuesday called by the Village Board to listen to flooding and drainage concerns. One by one, the residents located their lot on a map of the subdivision and told their specific problems.

Most said they had sump pumps that either never shut off or that run every few minutes. A number of residents said their basements flood every time it rains; others said they have yards with pools of standing water.

Tom Scales said there is so much flooding in his yard that his children lose their shoes in the grass the day after a rain.

For some, the problems have been ongoing. According to an Elburn Herald article in June 2000, resident Laurie Geary said that she and her husband had already had extensive work done to solve the drainage and flooding issues.

“Ten sump pumps later, we discovered our dream house is built on a water aquifer,” she said then.

For others, like Leo Brown, the problems are just beginning. Brown, who has lived in Mallard Point for 10 years, said his sump pump had cob webs in it for the first eight years. He said now it goes on all the time, with a substantial increase in his electric bill as well.

Problems with the subdivision date back to the mid-1990s, when Mallard Point was first built. After the first builder declared bankruptcy, two others took over before the development was finally completed. Difficulties determining who was responsible for what problems go back to the beginning.

Although the annexation agreement called for the establishment of a homeowners association, one was never created. There was also some discussion about establishing a special services area. This would have meant Mallard Point residents would have been charged an additional tax that would pay for maintenance of the property and other outstanding issues, but that did not take place, either.

According to Village President Sean Michels, the development was built with inappropriate grading, causing many of the flooding and drainage issues.

Brad Sauer, who owns the property directly to the south of the subdivision, said that Mallard Point’s drainage problems have destroyed the crops and made that land, once farmed, unusable.

“I know some people think I’m the bad guy,” he told the crowd gathered on Tuesday. “I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to fix the problem, so I’m with you. I want this problem fixed, too.”

Karen Romero, who lives on Brookhaven Circle, attended the Jan. 6 Village Board meeting to see if she could get any assistance from the village. Romero told the board her basement had flooded three times since the beginning of 2008.

She said when she initially approached village staff in October 2008, she was told the problem was a leak in the water line on her property, and it was her responsibility to fix it. She said it wasn’t until she had someone dig up her entire lawn that she discovered it was not where the problem was. She said she has been through three sump pumps and now the sewer line is backing up into her basement.

Romero said that so far, she has spent about $5,000 trying to fix the problem on her own. The last tradesperson she hired told her it was a drainage issue.

“I just don’t want other people to have to pay all this money like I did,” she said.

Trustee Kevin Geary, who owns a home in Mallard Point with his wife Laurie, said he did not feel the village had been responsive to Romero’s concerns and those of other Mallard Point residents. He and village presidential candidate Perry Clark held a meeting with residents several weeks ago.

“I’ve been getting phone calls from everyone,” Geary said. “My opinion is that the village did not want to be bothered with it.”

Village attorney Steve Andersson said the Village Board has asked him to research what the rights and responsibilities are for both the village and the landowners, including the Mallard Point residents and Sauer.

Although several residents said they wanted a timeframe in which the village thought the problem could be solved, village officials were reluctant to set one.

Trustee Mary Heineman said she has spent 12 hours so far talking to people and reading through previous meeting minutes to get a better sense of the problems. She asked the residents for their patience while the village takes steps to come up with both short-term and long-term solutions.

“While I know you all want a timeline, we don’t know the extent of the problem, so we can’t determine how long it will take,” trustee Melisa Taylor added.

Andersson said he will review the annexation agreement, and work with the engineers to determine the problems, as well as attempting to determine what is village-owned and what is not.

The Village Board is expected to approve a contract with the engineering firm Trotter & Associates at its next board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 3, to evaluate the problems.

Strategic plans take shape

by Susan O’Neill

The Sugar Grove Village Board had on Jan. 6 what may be, for now, its final discussion regarding strategic plan priorities. These items were originally identified at a strategic planning retreat in March 2008.

Board members had individually ranked more than 50 items on four separate lists; termed short-term simple, short-term complex, long-term simple and long-term complex. During the past several months, they have taken time during a number of Committee of the Whole meetings to tweak, consolidate and eliminate items.

“It’s not like these things will be accomplished tomorrow,” Village Administrator Brent Eichelberger said. “Some things will take years, if we get to them at all.”

However, he said that as the trustees and village staff review the budget, the lists help to focus everyone on what the goals and objectives are for the village.

Among the long-term complex priorities are achieving a full interchange at the intersection of Interstate 88 and Route 47, advocating expansion and improvement of routes 30, 47 and 56, adding another industrial park parcel next to the existing industrial park and seeing a Metra station built and operational.

“Now, it’s just about setting the groundwork—planting the seeds,” Village President Sean Michels said. “It gives us a way to plan for the future, and not just rest on our laurels. We have a vision. We’ve thought things through.”

The lists should be in a workable format soon, Eichelberger said.

Growth shifts from homes to stores

by Susan O’Neill

            With a struggling economy in the background, the village of Sugar Grove saw a shift of focus in 2008. In previous years much effort was spent planning for residential growth, but this year it was spent on bringing commercial projects into the village.
 
Sugar Grove is recognized
            Sugar Grove began the new year by celebrating BusinessWeek.com‘s choice of the village as the best affordable suburb in Illinois. Sugar Grove was picked as a relatively affordable community that offers the lowest crime rate, finest schools and the best quality of life for the money in the state.

            Sugar Grove learned in June that Standard & Poors upgraded the village’s bond rating from an A to an A+.

            Settler’s Ridge, Sugar Grove’s conservation development, earned a Conservation and Native Landscaping Award from the Chicago Wilderness Corporation Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its landscaping and innovative water works systems. The water works system also received the Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association Chicago Metro Chapter.
 
The economy and growth
            The Settler’s Ridge Subdivision was dealt a blow in April when developer Kimball Hill Homes requested bankruptcy protection. The development, which was to include 2,678 homes, was put up for sale after only 100 residences were built. Kimball Hill announced it would go out of business at year’s end.

            New home starts dropped significantly, leading the village to renegotiate annexation agreements with developers of projects in progress.

            Although residential development lagged in Sugar Grove in 2008, commercial development continued to move forward.

            “It’s been a busy year,” Village President Sean Michels said. “There has been $65 million in investment in the village.”

            Multiple commercial/office developments either opened or expanded, and many new businesses opened, ranging from two new preschools to a family practice physician and other retail outlets, locations like The Landings, Sugar Grove Center and the Capital Professional Center saw growth throughout the year.
 
Municipal development
            Groundbreaking for the new Sugar Grove Public Library building took place on May 3, although voters rejected a measure to increase the tax rate to increase the library’s operating expenses.

            The Sugar Grove Fire District moved nine firefighters to the Oswego Fire District station on Galena Road in July to meet response time standards in the area from the station on Route 30 and Municipal Drive.
 
Airport growth
            Growth is taking place at the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove as well, with two companies opening new locations: one in December and another slated for 2009.
 
New church in village

            The Rockford Diocese created the first new Roman Catholic parish in almost 20 years in Sugar Grove this year. The St. Katharine Drexel parish holds weekend masses at the Kaneland John Shields Elementary School until a church can be built on land donated by the Jerry Rich family. The parish priest, Fr. Robert Jones, began in time to conduct Advent services on Nov. 29.

            What began several years ago as a plan to build a new separate village hall and police facility based on population projections of 60,000 plus was ultimately reduced at year’s end to the reconfiguration of the Police Department reception area for increased protection and safety of police personnel.
 
Infrastructure
            Construction also began this year on the Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard extension, and plans moved forward for the extension of the village’s water main out to the Kaneland Harter Road Middle School.
 
SG joins county program
            The Sugar Grove Village Board approved a measure to join Ride in Kane, a county-wide program to provide transportation to eligible residents in need. With participation by the Sugar Grove Township, Park District and Public Library, the village will receive $4,000 from the Regional Transportation Authority. Services will begin July 1, 2009.
 
Future growth
            Robert Arthur Land Company in October brought plans for an active adult community to the Village Board for its feedback. The 190-acre development would include a mix of single-family homes for active adults and rental apartments and condominiums targeting adults over 55 on land originally set aside for the Settler’s Ridge development.

            Village officials reviewed plans in November for a Walgreens store scheduled to open in 2009 at the northwest corner of Route 47 and the Galena Boulevard extension. Attorney James White said the developer, the Daly Group, LLC, hopes to attract some big-box stores to the development.

            Michels said there are a couple of other smaller retailers, including an auto service center and a small hardware store that the village is talking to for possible location in the Prairie Grove Commons, south of Galena Boulevard and west of Route 47.

            The village hopes to take advantage of potential infrastructure funding that may be available in 2009 through the new federal administration’s stimulus package. Village staff submitted two infrastructure projects to the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus for the Harter Road water main extension and the Municipal Drive extension from Galena Boulevard to Wheeler Road.

            Michels said the village is still working on a full interchange at I-88 and Route 47. There is currently a feasibility study underway for the interchange and that is going well, he said.

            According to Michels, when the construction market begins to pick up again, Sugar Grove should be in a good position to take advantage of it with the essential infrastructure in place.