Tag Archives: Tom Renk

SG Village Board revives video gaming talks

by Chris Paulus
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Dec. 18 held a discussion regarding the implementation of video gaming in various locations throughout the community.

Jay Spoden, owner of Tiger Amusements, began the meeting with elaborating on the profitability and the negligible amount of problems when the gaming machines were used in other surrounding communities such as North Aurora.

“We have not heard any complaints of people hanging around or about the maintenance of these machines,” Spoden said.

In reference to a total gathered from a few surrounding locations, Spoden stated that approximately $12 million was gambled last month—$1 million went to the state, and $200,000 went to select municipalities.

A few members of the American Legion showed up to express their concern that the legion is doing poorly financially. Many members compared their financial situation as “on their last leg,” and stated that they may not be there anymore. American Legion members support the gaming machines because of the vast amount of profits that these machines have brought in the past, and feel that it will help sustain the American Legion.

Ladies’ Auxiliary representative Lynn Marchi echoed that sentiment.

“If this does not happen, then we will not be able to do our annual car show or send cards to the troops,” she said, mentioning the two events that provide good services for the community and a good sources of revenue, as well.

Members of surrounding towns attended the meeting to express opposition to the use of gaming machines. John Zahn of Batavia made the point that the bars could “potentially lose money because those that would be inclined to put their money into the machines would otherwise be inclined to spend the money on drinks and food.”

Some board trustees had abstained their vote in order for the citizens of the community to be able to have a vote on it in April’s referendum. The trustees that abstained—Rick Montalto, Kevin Geary, Tom Renk and David Paluch—pressed the need for the people’s say in the situation, and the use of democracy. Other trustees, including Bob Bohler, were frustated by the abstentions.

“These gaming machines have existed in the Legion for decades, and now it’s only an issue because it’s become a political issue,” he said.

Montalto offered a compromise that would allow Legion members temporary use of the machines until the board holds a referendum on the issue in April. If the community supports the use of the machines, they will maintain their license. If not, then the Legion and other businesses would have some time to remove the machines from their locations.

Village Board approves Walgreens liquor license

By Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Sugar Grove Village Board members on Tuesday voted 5-0 in favor of a 2012-13 liquor license for the Walgreens store located at the corner of Route 47 and Galena Boulevard.

Trustee Tom Renk was absent from the meeting.

“I am glad to have (Walgreens) in town. I wasn’t sure if this would be a Walgreens that serves liquor,” Village President Sean Michels said. “(The building) is looking good. It’s all landscaped. The parking lot is done.”

The Village Board also voted 5-0 to amend a resolution that regulates the number of liquor licenses per class. According to a document from Village Clerk Cynthia Galbreath, the amendment is necessary to “reflect the granting of an additional license for the 2012-13 licensing year.”

Walgreens is slated to open in Sugar Grove in early November.

SG resident puts unique Christmas tree on display

Photo: Sugar Grove resident Tom Renk’s unique Christmas tree stands in his kitchen every holiday season. The tree weighs close to 600 pounds and takes between seven and eight hours to construct and decorate. Courtesy Photo

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Have you ever seen a Christmas tree that weighs close to 600 pounds and can support the weight of 32 miniature porcelain houses?

Sugar Grove resident and Village Board Trustee Tom Renk has. In fact, it’s in his kitchen every holiday season.

Renk’s tree isn’t an actual tree, per se; rather, it consists of five 3/8 inch-thick wooden platforms attached to a metal pipe trunk that sits in a foundation of glass block. The structure is decorated with lights, figurines and miniature re-creations of village homes, a village square, a railroad complete with electric train, a bubbling brook and bridges. At the top of the tree is a church with a tall spire.

All electrical cords used to light the tree are hidden inside the structure and covered by fake snow.

“There’s so much weight involved with the tree. It’s the type of tree that you have to build where you intend to put it. Once it’s up, you don’t move it,” Renk said. “It’s the only one I’ve ever seen, though there was a partial sample down in the store I bought the plan from. I’ve never seen another tree like it.”

Renk bought the blueprint for the structure 12 years ago in a Christmas tree shop in Savannah, Ga. He finally mustered up the courage in 2003 to begin putting the tree’s components together, which took several months to finish, he said.

“I didn’t do anything with it for four years, but I finally decided I was going to try to build it, because I was looking for a project,” Renk said. “Everybody raves about the tree every time they see it in our house. It’s made of threaded metal pipe and various levels of 3/8-inch plywood that are stacked so that (the structure) can be assembled and disassembled, piece by piece.”

Twinkling lights can be found underneath and around the edges of each wooden platform, as well.

At the time he purchased the tree blueprint, Renk had a growing collection of miniature porcelain houses that he would display in his home during the holiday season. Renk had initially constructed a foam snow scene in order to showcase six or seven of the houses, but upon seeing the structure in the Christmas tree shop, he knew he could place all of his porcelain houses on the tree’s platforms.

“I said, ‘my gosh, that is a beautiful tree. How does it support all that weight?’ And the store owner said he had a plan for the tree, so I bought the plan for $20,” Renk said. “You obviously can’t put a porcelain house on a regular tree branch—it would just snap off and the house would fall down.”

According to Renk, the entire structure takes between seven and eight hours to assemble and decorate.

“Everything has to come from the basement, piece by piece, and then you put each level on, one at time, and screw them into threaded metal anchors on each level so that everything holds together. Then you wire the tree with electrical cords up the middle, and all the individual houses get plugged into those cords.”

Disassembly of the tree typically clocks in at a more modest five hours, he said.

Because of the amount of hours and work needed to assemble the tree, Renk has spent the last few years unsure of whether or not he’s going to put the tree up the following holiday season. At this point, his grandchildren are the only reason he continues to put the structure up in his kitchen.

“I think the first year the grandkids don’t come over will be the year I don’t put the tree up,” he said.

Renk intended to put the tree up during Thanksgiving weekend, but will instead construct the structure this weekend. The tree is his main contribution to the decorating that takes place at the Renk home every holiday season.

“I make a day or two of it and put the tree up; along with the outdoor lights, that’s all the decorating I do. My wife does the rest,” he said.

SG trustee publishes thriller novel

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—What does Village Board Trustee Tom Renk do in his free time? He writes novels that you can purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and several other online book retailers.

Renk published his book “Journey for Revenge” last July. The novel is a tale of 9/11 surviving family members who take justice into their own hands and embark on a quest to hunt down the terrorists responsible for the attacks. This is actually Renk’s second book to be published, following his 2006 self-help book “Getting Elected: Winning Local Elections.”

“(Writing my first book) was enjoyable to the point that I decided I wanted to try writing something else, and I decided I was going to write a novel,” Renk said. “I had an idea about a subject matter and decided I’d give it a shot. The current book, ‘Journey for Revenge,’ has been in the making now for close to five years.”

Renk, 61, will have been an elected local official for 16 years when his current term is complete. He served four of those years as an alderman in Wauwatosa, Wis.—a town with a population of 16,000—and then moved to Sugar Grove, where he ran for office in 1999. Renk also had experience with managing local campaigns for other people, which is how he accumulated the knowledge of what it took to make a successful bid for office.

“I quietly registered to run for office (in Sugar Grove), and ran a textbook campaign. And I use those terms because that’s exactly how I did it,” he said. “I not only won my election; I was the top vote getter. At that point, I decided that I do know what I am doing when it comes to managing a local political campaign. So I started making notes to myself, and before I knew it, I had written a self-help book.”

Renk said the key element to getting elected in local campaigns is the four- to five-month window of opportunity—from the point of filing to run for office, to the actual election day. Unless you know what you’re doing and use your time very well, you can’t get the kind of necessary exposure and presence in front of the public, Renk said.

“The book ‘Getting Elected’ was meant to assist the first-time person running—the average man—and give him a leg up on ‘Here’s what I need to do to accomplish my goal,’” he said. “I’ve sold a good number of books in the last four years, especially in the election cycles. Everybody that I’ve ever talked to who has bought the book has won their elections, and I am proud of that.”

Renk enjoyed the experience of writing his first book, and decided that his second book would be a thriller novel in the vein of his favorite authors: Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, James Patterson, Vince Flynn and Lee Child.

“I am an avid reader of newspapers and magazines, and I follow political venues extensively—it’s just something that I am. My background was political science and economics in school,” Renk said. “I’ve always been interested in the world’s politics, and after 9/11, I think I was affected like many people—incredulous that something like that could happen. As I kept thinking and reading about it—and I read just about everything I could, including the 9/11 Commission report—an idea came into my head, based upon the fact that if I had been one of the survivors of the victims, how would I be handling it? That got me to reading about the grief counseling sessions that thousands and thousands of people in the Tri-State area went into to try and deal with their frustration and anger. From that came an idea of what if a small group of those grief-stricken people decided they wanted to go after the terrorists themselves. That’s the basis of the story.”

Renk said the reviews for his book have been positive thus far, and several people have personally told him the level of detail in “Journey for Revenge” is not unlike what is found in a Clancy or Thor novel.

“You have to immerse yourself in the details,” Renk said. With the advent of the Internet and Google, you are able to do all sorts of research that would’ve taken tons and tons of time in the past. You can find what you need to make it plausible, believable, and immerse your reader into the storyline.”

Renk took the level of detail up a notch when he was able to include SEAL Team Six’s mission to eliminate terrorist Osama Bin Laden in “Journey for Revenge,” as he found out about Bin Laden’s death almost immediately after the book had been turned in to be published.

“I had to pull my book back from the publisher. At first, I just wanted to give up, because that was my storyline—my characters had gotten Bin Laden in the book,” Renk said. “In the next two weeks, I rewrote six different chapters to bring SEAL Team Six into the book, and I adjusted my book to fit the reality of what happened. I am proud that I rewrote the SEAL Team Six segments—their actual attack on the Islamabad compound—three days after the attack, and I got about 95 percent of it right, and I hadn’t seen all the reports yet. I had done enough research to know what (SEAL Team Six) probably did to make the attack on Bin Laden work. And that’s part of the book now.”

Renk also rewrote the book’s ending, and said he’s much more pleased with it now.

Just months after publishing his first thriller novel, Renk is already writing his next book, which will be a thriller based around the Arab Spring protests and demonstrations.

“It’ll be in the same genre with the terrorists and the Arab world,” he said. “This Arab Spring that has gone on in 20 Arab countries along the North Africa Coast and into the Middle East, and it’s affecting all of the Arab world. I am using that as the basis for the new book, because it’s (currently) happening.”

Sugar Grove approves IGA with Kaneland

by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday night voted 4-3 in favor of a one-year Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the Kaneland School District. Sean Michels’ vote broke a 3-3 deadlock between board trustees.

As a result, developers in Sugar Grove will pay only 60 percent of the capital-impact and transition fees issued by the School District—a compromise that was struck after the Village Board tabled the IGA vote at its Nov. 16 meeting in order to have further discussions with the district.

“We need to protect the School District by imposing some impact fees, because that’s how they get money to (develop) their schools and fund bricks and mortar,” Michels said. “(The village) has expenses, and if we get more development, then maybe we’ll get more retail stores that will bring in more tax dollars. We’re trying to generate development in the community and still take care of the School District, and it’s a fine line.”

Several board trustees touched upon that fine line during the meeting, as Mari Johnson and Rick Montalto both stated they would move forward with the IGA despite still having some reservations with the numbers proposed by the School District.

“In the spirit of cooperation, and the fact that our agreement is expiring in a few short weeks, I think it’s probably better to go forward on the faith that what we’ve been told by the School District is actually true,” Montalto said.

Michels said the board is looking out for village residents and the future of the village.

“We need to work with the School District, and they need to appreciate what we’re doing at the same time. Even developers have acknowledged that a good school system is what sells lots,” he said.

Trustees voting in favor of the IGA extension were Michels, Johnson, Montalto and Melisa Taylor; against were Tom Renk, Kevin Geary, and Bob Bohler.

Village Board postpones vote on SSA proposal

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—The Sugar Grove Village Board on Tuesday postponed until April the vote to propose the establishment of a special service area (SSA) in the Mallard Point and Rolling Oaks subdivisions.

The proposal is the first step in establishing a method to charge Mallard Point and Rolling Oak residents for the maintenance of the retention pond and other stormwater infrastructure that affects the residents of the two subdivisions.

The next step would be for the board to establish the SSA, and the last and final step would be to approve an annual rate.

Approximately 70 Mallard Point residents who attended the Village Board meeting on Tuesday had a number of questions and concerns regarding the SSA and how it would affect them, as well as comments that they didn’t feel the village did its due diligence when the subdivision was being built.

Approximately 20 of those in attendance reported that they currently experience flooding in and around their homes. Some of the residents said they think the village should take some responsibility for the problems that currently exist.

“Why didn’t the village take the responsibility to make sure that these people (the builders) dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s?” resident Linda Sackett asked. “You put the responsibility back on the people. Where’s your responsibility, Sean (Michels, village president)? We were told the property should not have been built on.”

Trustee Tom Renk said he took umbrage with residents blaming the current members of the board for their problems, when they were not on the board when the development was originally approved in the mid-1990s. However, Jim Stone, a homeowner in Mallard Point, said that did not excuse the current board from doing the right thing now.

The annexation agreement the village negotiated with the developer at the time allows the village to create an SSA, and waives the right of the homeowners to oppose it.

Although the board has been discussing Mallard Point’s problems for over a year, some board members, such as Rick Montalto, also a resident of the Mallard Point Subdivision, were still not comfortable that they had enough information to vote on the SSA.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions, and I don’t feel comfortable moving forward,” Montalto said.

The vote will be placed on the agenda for the Tuesday, April 6, meeting.

SSA charges
According to Finance Director Justin VanVooren, the maximum that the village could charge residents under the terms of the SSA is $1.50 per every $100 of Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) or $1,000 annually for a $200,000 home.

However, the average cost for a Mallard Point homeowner is more likely to be close to $185 for the first five years, and $125 for the first five years for a resident of Rolling Oaks.

“This comes back to a trust issue,” he said. “The $1,000 limit was passed just in case additional maintenance needs to be done.”

Project timeline
The village began an investigation into the subdivision’s flooding problems in fall 2008, when residents began to report recurring groundwater issues and elevated water levels. The village hired Trotter & Associates to conduct a study of the development’s problems, and in June 2009, village officials began working with Kane County representatives and Rob Roy Drainage Ditch officials to determine what fixes were needed and who should pay for them.

The village’s expenditures for the study and the work done so far to begin to address the issues are approaching $100,000. The SSA would pay for this amount, as well as the ongoing maintenance work.

Local vendors hope to capture additional business during Solheim Cup

by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVE—The Village Board on Tuesday wrestled with the requests of several Sugar Grove businesses that have approached the village about temporarily locating on private property during the Solheim Cup to provide their services to thousands of potential additional customers.

Catering Gourmets owner Janet Lagerloef, who attended the meeting, obtained the permission of Sign Effects, a business located at Dugan and Granart roads, to temporarily set up the business’ outdoor grill on Sign Effects’ property during the week of the Solheim Cup.

Lagerloef said she would like to provide coffee in the morning and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch as people approach the event, located farther south on Dugan Road at Rich Harvest Farms.

Village trustees were anxious to accommodate Lagerloef, but expressed concerns about the impact on the already-increased traffic the Solheim Cup will bring.

“I don’t have a problem with the concept, but I’m a little bit concerned with the location, due to the traffic issues and its proximity to the (traffic) light,” trustee Tom Renk said. “I envision people trying to turn into the intersection and then trying to get out.”

Village President Sean Michels said he was concerned about how the traffic would likely begin stacking up on Route 30.

Trustee Rick Montalto said he was interested in finding a good compromise that would allow businesses in town to benefit from the event.

“There aren’t enough places in town to eat as it is,” he said. “I would rather see them (Solheim Cup visitors) spend their money in town.”

Trustee Mari Johnson suggested that perhaps Catering Gourmets and other food vendors could set up for business in the Village Hall parking lot, where the Farmer’s Market takes place on Saturday mornings. She said with people being able to pull in off of Route 30 and parking available across Municipal Drive at the fire station, the safety issues would be alleviated.

Lagerloef said that she had received the permission of Rich Harvest Farms to temporarily locate at the spot, although she had not consulted with the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Board members said they would like to discuss the situation with LPGA planners before making a final decision.

The board will make a final decision at the next scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 4. The Solheim Cup takes place the week of Aug. 17-23.

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.”

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

Sugar Grove Village Board-6 candidates for 3 positions

by Susan O’Neill

Bob Bohler
Bohler said he is running for re-election to the Sugar Grove Village Board because he wants to finish assisting with commercial and retail growth once the economy recovers.

He does not agree with reducing developer impact fees or the open space requirement, believing that development should pay for itself and open space is crucial to Sugar Grove’s quality of life. He would agree with trading open space within a development for land or cash to purchase it elsewhere.

Bohler has been the vice president and president of a corporation, and has served as a Sugar Grove trustee for 12 years. He said he understands the village’s processes and that it is important to have people with experience in how government works and how it pays for itself. He wants to continue the path the village is on.

During the past 12 years, the village has grown from 3,000 to 8,000 people while remaining financially healthy. With a 30-percent cash reserve, he said the village has managed its money well and has not relied upon impact fees or sales tax to provide the basic services to its residents.

The village has successfully planned for the future and has done a tremendous amount of preparation for new commercial and retail development, with road and other infrastructure improvements, Bohler said. In addition to the current Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard extension, he wants to see Municipal Drive extended all the way to Wheeler Road.
He said the Route 47 and Interstate 88 interchange is important to additional commercial growth to the north.

He wants the village to become a certified community in disaster emergency management and to make the most of the opportunity to highlight Sugar Grove to the world during the Solheim Cup this year.

Mary Heineman
Heineman decided not to run when she thought the poor economy would slow things down in Sugar Grove for the next two years. She changed her mind when she realized some other candidates want to reduce developer impact fees and the amount of required open space for developments, which she does not agree with. She is currently running as a write-in candidate.

She said the board spent a lot of time to determine the cost of development and does not believe impact fees should be reduced. This money goes to other taxing bodies such as the school, which relies on the village and impacts residents’ property valuesl. She believes that if impact fees are reduced, services will be diminished or taxes will go up, and current residents will end up paying for new growth.

She believes open space is important, and she is willing to negotiate for land or cash to purchase it elsewhere.
Heineman said her strong financial and strategic planning background can help make the board more fiscally responsible and keep the focus on the long-term vision without sacrificing it for short-term gain.

Heineman thinks it is important not to panic during the current economic downturn. She believes that development will come back, but it will be much slower, and the village has to readjust its expectations and come up with a new business model and a more realistic vision.

The board has carefully planned for future growth and set standards that should not be compromised to encourage more residential growth, she said. Trustees need to work to solve current budget problems that will not create bigger problems in the long run, she said.

“We are a society that wants everything quickly,” she said. “Sometimes it’s OK to take your time and get it right.”

She is convinced that with the extension of Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard and water and sewer services out to the industrial park, the village will be in a much better position to support additional growth when the economy does pick up.

She said she believes strongly in continuing to support the Kaneland School District and other taxing bodies that provide services within the community.

She has worked with Kane County officials to obtain the funding and support for the improvement of the Bliss-Merrill intersection. Work begins this spring to make the intersection safer for motorists.

Heineman said that as a write-in candidate, her name will not appear on the ballot. However, voters will have the option to select “write-in” candidate and enter her name manually using the keyboard.

Tom Renk
After serving one term, Renk was defeated in 2003. He was appointed to serve on the Plan Commission, and then rejoined the board when he was appointed to fill trustee Perry Clark’s position when Clark resigned at the end of 2003. Renk was re-elected in 2005.

Renk said he is running for re-election because he enjoys serving citizens and being part of the creation of a larger, family-oriented community.

Sugar Grove’s fees are higher than those in surrounding communities, and developers have chosen to go elsewhere due to the high cost of doing business with the village, Renk said. Although he wants to protect citizens from paying for improvements, residents want the growth, and it is the village’s responsibility to find a median point, he said.

He said the 40-percent open space requirement might be OK with smaller developments. However, with 25 percent used up in streets and common ways, this only leaves 35 percent on which to build homes, which is not cost-effective, he said. He added there has to be common ground and some flexibility.

Renk said his accumulated experience of more than 25 years in business and as a local government official, both in Sugar Grove and Wauwatosa, Wis., puts him in a good position to serve the community. He said that with tough times ahead, experience counts and now is not the time to bring someone in who is not familiar with municipal government.

He said the most critical issue currently is how to make ends meet in this tough economy. With revenues from sales tax and building permits slowing down, he said the village needs to maintain its level of service to the residents in an intelligent way until the economy turns around.

He said he wants to try to diversify the housing mix so that families can come to Sugar Grove at all levels and would encourage the development of apartments. He wants to work for annexation of the Aurora Airport in order to reap the rewards of the commercial development in and around it.

He said he believes there are issues the village should be responsible for, such as police protection, storm water, water and sewer services, and fire protection. He said he thinks the village should take an active part in trying to resolve the problems in Mallard Point and to ensure that the residents of Settler’s Ridge continue to receive services.

He said the village needs to step in to maintain foreclosed property to maintain the integrity of the surrounding neighborhoods. He wants to work with the current developer bankruptcy issues and break the land into smaller and more useful parcels to make them feasible. He would approve smaller developments in the future.

He said he is against raising taxes.

He said he wants to grow the community in a coordinated manner, with a balance of residential, commercial and retail growth and a simplified approval process.

He wants to work with neighboring communities to develop the Interstate 88 and Route 47 interchange.

“I have been honored to serve the residents of Sugar Grove and I hope to continue to do so,” he said.

Joe Wolf
After serving one term, Wolf was defeated in 2007. He said his main goal in running again is to bring houses at a variety of price points into Sugar Grove. He wants to make sure there are some homes that a family of four with an income of less than $100,000 a year can afford.

He said he is in favor of reducing impact fees and bring more affordable housing to town; he wants homes that each family within its own economic position can afford. He said that Sugar Grove used to be a middle-class town, but most recent homes have been in the $400,000 to $500,000 range.

He said that with lower fees, there would be more housing, leading to more commercial development, which will bring in more sales tax to offset the lower fee structure.

He is in favor of being flexible with reducing the open space requirement.

Wolf said he was involved with his trade union for 30 years, serving as its president for four terms. He said that during that time, he helped negotiate quite a few contracts, demonstrating that he can work with people on his side or across the table.

He said he has been successful because he is willing to listen and present his side articulately and is willing to compromise for the good of all. He said these skills also make him an effective board member, with the ability to represent the residents of Sugar Grove.

He said that Sugar Grove has been business-“unfriendly,” and developers and other business owners have had continued problems dealing with some of the village staff. He said the village tried to protect itself from development excesses, but ended up strangling commercial growth.

He said that Sugar Grove needs a variety of restaurants and stores, not just the high-end centers like the Forest City development considered several years ago.

“But officials and staff need to be willing to change,” he said.

His recent accomplishments include helping to gain the Sugar Grove Board’s approval to participate in Ride in Kane, a transportation service for people with special needs. In addition, through his role on the airport advisory board, he helped open lines of communication with the Aurora Municipal Airport, he said.

He said his future goals include recommending increased funding for Ride in Kane to help more people, and working with the Village Board to bring about more consensus on issues affecting the village. A longer-term goal is to bring a Metra station to Sugar Grove.

“As times change, we need to change with the times,” he said. “You have to take a fresh look and be willing to change. Don’t fall in love with some of your own decisions.”

He said that with the struggling economy, it is unlikely that the housing and commercial market will rebound for another year or two. But he said there is much that can be done now that will allow the village to take advantage when the economy does rebound.

He said he wants to have an open dialogue during this election.

“If I don’t get elected because people don’t agree with my views, I still want my views to be heard,” he said. “That is more important than my being elected.”

Rick Montalto
Montalto ran for village trustee last term. He said he is running again because Sugar Grove seems stagnant, while other surrounding towns have a Walgreens and hardware stores. He said the streets in Sugar Grove are in bad shape, and the village does not seem interested in helping its own businesses. He said he thinks some trustees have been on the board for far too long; that they don’t have the ideas to move the village forward.

He said he does not think there is enough affordable housing in Sugar Grove, and that the village should concentrate on retail development to lower taxes. He said the 40 percent open space seems a little high; that the village should be flexible on its requirement.

Montalto said that his 30-plus years in law enforcement will enable him to provide valuable input for the emergency services that will be needed with additional retail and industrial growth. He said he is a good multi-tasker, having raised a family and worked full-time while pursuing his education.

He said he has dealt with people from all walks of life, from those that were homeless to professional people, and considers himself a good listener who works well with people. He said he and his family have devoted their lives to public service.

Montalto, a resident of Mallard Point, has experienced the drainage and flooding issues from a personal perspective. If elected, he would strive to resolve the village’s drainage issues, improve the road conditions within the village and work with the state and the county to improve their roads, and increase retail and industrial development.

He said he would look for additional ways to bring revenue into the village, such as implementing in-house adjudicated hearings for people who want to fight their traffic tickets. He said this would bring additional administrative fees to the village, instead of sharing them with the county and state.

He would work to change the things that make the village difficult to work with, making it more user-friendly, both to business as well as the general public.

He said he would like to televise the Village Board meetings, open up the lines of communication, and make the board accountable to the residents.

“I’m married to my high school sweetheart for 34 years,” he said. “I’m dependable. If I say I’ll be there, I will.”

David Paluch
Paluch said he is running because small business owners do not have a voice in Sugar Grove. He wants to make government more accessible and transparent. He wants to encourage more business and home development by making it easier to work with the village.

He said he is in favor of more affordable homes, where people can live for 20 to 30 years. He said Sugar Grove’s impact fees are too high. At $23,000 to $30,000, he said they are significantly higher than Wheaton at $10,000 and Yorkville at $19,000. He also believes the 40 percent open space requirement seems too high, especially with another 15 percent taken up in roads. He thinks the village should be more flexible.

Paluch said his work involves creating business solutions to help businesses grow. He also has had years of experience selling to the government, so he has many contacts at the county and state level. He said he has the ability to look at both sides of an issue, and can help change the things needed to help Sugar Grove’s businesses grow and thrive and improve the quality of life for its citizens.

He wants to make government more accessible and easier to work with. He would be more responsive to the needs of the businesses in town, such as being more flexible with what he said are unreasonable landscaping requirements, in some instances.

He said if elected to the board, he would make the village’s bidding process transparent, giving local businesses an opportunity to bid on projects within the village.

He would aggressively market the village to businesses on the fringe of Chicago that are currently paying sales taxes in the double digits. He said Sugar Grove has a lot to offer to businesses and that the village is losing a lot of opportunity for tax money and jobs.

He said he would like to bring in more retail and light industrial or manufacturing businesses, as well as professional offices, such as doctors or dentists.

He would also like the village to be more responsive to the needs of the citizens, such as with the drainage issue in Mallard Point. His goal is to have Sugar Grove be the place to live in Kane County. He said the key issues are transparency and accountability on the part of the village, creating a more business-friendly environment and working together with all governmental bodies.

“The government exists for people, not the other way around,” he said.

Bob Bohler
• 23 years in Sugar Grove
• 12 years on Village Board
• Occupation: Executive Sales, Aurora
Tri-State Fire Protection, former VP and
President, manufacturing company
• Education: Three years of college in
pre-medicine, additional coursework at
Waubonsee Community College,
National Institute for Certification in
Engineering Technologies (NICET) 2008
certification, Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) ISO100,
200 and 700 2008 certification
• Community involvement: Sugar Grove Corn
Boil fireworks 2002-present, Corn Boil
volunteer 1994-present, President, Rural
Kane County Girls Softball League
1994-1995, Founder, Sugar Grove
Soccer League 1994, Sugar Grove
Athletic Association Coach 1986-1987.
• Previous offices: Sugar Grove Lions Club
President 2004-present

Mary Heineman

• Life-long resident of the
Kaneland community
• 4 years on Village Board
• Occupation: Corporate Secretary/
Treasurer, family business, Sync Energy,
Inc. Prior experience includes close to 20
years in corporate strategic planning and
business development roles in Fortune 50
consumer products companies
• Education: B.S. Accounting, U. of Illinois
1985, CPA certification 1985, MBA North-
western University’s JL Kellogg Graduate
School 1991.

Tom Renk
• 11 years in Sugar Grove
• 10 years on Village Board
• Occupation: Co-owner, Association
Enterprise Management Co.
• Education: B.S. Political Science and
Economics and one year law school,
Marquette University Law School.
• Community involvement: Board of
Directors, Fox Valley Girl Scouts, active
member, St. Catharine-St. Drexel Church,
six months on Sugar Grove Plan
Commission, volunteer, 10 Sugar Grove
Corn Boils, led committee to recommend
Sugar Grove acquisitions to Kane County
Forest Preserve.
• Previous offices: 4 years as alderman for
Wauwatosa, Wis., five years on Zoning
Board of Appeals, Wauwatosa, Wis.

Joe Wolf
• 48 years in Sugar Grove
• 4 years on Village Board
• Occupation: Retired tool and dye maker;
union official with the United Auto
Workers for 30 years, four terms as union
president for the local UAW.
• Education: High School graduate and
trade school
• Community involvement: Kaneland School
District Facilities Planning Committee,
Kaneland Foundation, Ride in Kane since
inception, 2005, Aurora Municipal Airport
advisory committee 2005 to present,
Active member of the Sugar Grove
UM Church for the past 40 years.
• Previous offices: Kaneland School Board
14.5 years, three years as president,
village trustee 2003-2007.

Rick Montalto
• 15 years in Sugar Grove
• Occupation: 31 years with suburban police
department; retired from law enforcement
side in June 2008
• Education: Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s
Degree, History and Political Science,
Master’s Degree, Management and
Organizational Behavior
• Community involvement: Coached youth
sports in Sugar Grove, AYSO soccer,
baseball and basketball; middle-school
and high-school music and sports
boosters; Public Safety Committee, Chair,
Police Commission; active member, St.
Gall’s and St. Katharine-Drexel churches.

David Paluch

• 12 years in Sugar Grove
• Occupation: Business account executive,
Comcast; previous positions with
Continental Cable Vision, Nextel and
US Cellular.
• Education: BA Fine Arts in radio and sound.
• Community involvement: Chair for United
Cerebral Palsy for Miller distributor;
volunteer for US Cellular United Way;
active member, Village Bible Church;
Community House volunteer.
The race for Sugar Grove Village Board
is evenly split between incumbents and
candidates not currently on the board.
They would each like to see more
diversified growth within the village, but
have differences in opinion as to how to
get there.

Heineman changes mind about running

Current village trustee to run as write-in candidate
by Susan O’Neill
Sugar Grove village trustee Mary Heineman said she thought the next couple of years would be a good time to step away from the Village Board to concentrate on her family and other interests.

New development had significantly slowed. The economy seemed likely to take some time to recover, and the Village Board would be focused on maintaining its budget and providing basic services.

However, she said when she saw the statements of some of the other candidates and their platforms, she decided she had to stay on the board, if she could.

Heineman, who has served on the board for the past four years, will run for re-election as a write-in candidate in the April 7 election.

“I realize it’s a long shot,” she said.

Heineman said what is most troubling to her is the desire on the part of some candidates to reduce developer impact fees as a way to attract more affordable housing to the village. She said she is concerned that if this were to happen, the cost of development would fall to the current residents.

“Either services will be diminished or taxes will go up,” she said.

She is also concerned what the decrease in fees might mean for the other taxing bodies to which the village provides revenue, such as the School District.

“The schools rely on us, and we rely on them,” she said.

Heineman said village trustees and staff, during the past several years, have studied the costs of development to determine what they thought were fairly accurate projections. With the slowdown in growth, some candidates have said the fees should be scaled back in order to encourage more development.

She said many factors have affected the pace of development, including the lack of water and sewer to most retail areas, the significant road improvements required to build along state roads, such as routes 47 and 56, and the cost of land.

“To say the reason that development dried up is the impact fees is taking a narrow view,” she said.

She is also concerned about some of the candidates who want to relax the open space requirements with new development. Currently, the village requires 40 percent of each new development be saved for open space.

She said that while not every community needs the entire 40 percent, a cash requirement in lieu of open space could be used to purchase it elsewhere in the village for everyone to enjoy.

She is convinced that with the extension of Municipal Drive and Galena Boulevard and water and sewer services out to the industrial park, the village will be in a much better position to support additional growth when the economy does pick up.

“Development will come back, but it will be much slower,” she said. “The village has to readjust its expectations. We will have to come up with a new business model, a realignment of our vision.”

She said that many things will have to sort themselves out with the state and the economy in general.

“We are a society that wants everything quickly,” she said. “Sometimes it’s OK to take your time and get it right.”

Heineman said that as a write-in candidate, her name will not appear on the ballot. However, voters will have the option to select “write-in” candidate and enter her name manually using the keyboard.

With the addition of Heineman, there are six candidates running for three openings on the Village Board. The other candidates are incumbents Bob Bohler and Tom Renk, former trustee Joe Wolf, Rick Montalto and David Paluch.

Meet the Candidates
7 p.m. Thursday, March 19
Sugar Grove Community House
141 Main Street, Sugar Grove
Candidates for:
Sugar Grove Village President,
Village Board,
Sugar Grove Library District Board,
Township Board, Community House Board and Kaneland School Board.

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.