Tag Archives: Whistle ban

Elburn deals with economic downturn

Finances in forefront in 2008

by Martha Quetsch

            The community of Elburn showed confidence on some fronts and restraint on others in 2008, reflecting optimism as well as uncertainty about the economy.
 
Smoking ban effect evident
            A new state law prohibiting smoking in businesses started Jan. 1, leaving some local restaurant and tavern owners wondering what effect it would have on them.

            For Blackberry Inn in Elburn, the smoking ban led to more food sales and less bar business this year.

            “We have had a lot of new customers who wanted to try our food for a long time but didn’t come in before because we were a smoking establishment,” manager Dawn Faber said. “But when the kitchen closes, it’s dead.”
 
Village, county officials make choices
            Also in January, Elburn trustees hired Erin Willrett as the village’s first community development director, for an annual salary of $73,000.

            “Ms. Willrett will work with developers, business owners and stakeholders to assist in implementing the Village Board’s policies on carefully managed growth,” Village Administrator David Morrison said at the time of the hiring.

            Meantime, the health of the economy was declining, with housing starts dropping, meaning less revenue for Elburn from utilities connection and building fees.

            Nevertheless, in July, the Elburn Village Board approved 4.1-percent pay raises for all village employees and even more for some staff. However, trustees Patricia Romke and Gordon Dierschow voted against the pay hikes because they were more than those received by average people in the private sector this year.

            Citing the same reason, local resident Drew Frasz, right after being appointed to the Kane County Board, voted against a similar pay raise for county employees. Frasz won in the Republican primary against incumbent Jan Carlson, who stepped down after his defeat, leaving his position open. The board appointed Frasz to fill the District 14 position in May.
 
Recreation spending decisions made
            Using money from its limited recreation fund, the Village built a new tot lot at 215 W. Shannon St. this summer, naming it after after former village police chief and longtime local public servant Wayne Byerhof. The village purchased the Byerhof Park site, formerly a residential lot, two years ago for $165,000. The village spent more than $50,000 on site preparation and playground equipment for the tot lot, the first park on the northwest side of the Elburn.

            During October, the Village Board also tabled a proposal for a skateboard park in Elburn because of its more than $100,000 cost. Trustees said the remaining money in the recreation fund could cover the cost, but the village might need it for other purposes because of expected financial constraints.
 
Business changes occur
            Bucking the belt-tightening trend, Party Animals expanded its business in downtown Elburn, moving in October to a larger location a couple of doors down to the former Gliddon’s Drug Store location at 116 B. Main St. There, Party Animals offers its children’s celebrations and a new coffee shop.

            The downtown lost two businesses this year, Sears and Emma’s Pub and Cantina. Emma’s gave up its liquor license in May after the Police Department cited the restaurant for illegal gambling. The Sears appliance store at 107 N. Main St., Elburn, closed in October after less than two years in business.

            Four months earlier, a longtime Elburn business changed hands. Ehlers Lawn & Recreation sold its 51-year-old family business to another John Deere dealer, Hogan Walker.

            Despite the economic downturn, Walgreens continued with its plan to build on the northeast corner of Route 38 and Route 47. The store is expected to open this spring.

            Likewise, two planned developments pushed forward, Keslinger Plaza and Elburn Station. Village officials in September approved design plans for the first phase of Keslinger Plaza, a commercial development whose site is at Keslinger Road and Route 47. Elburn Station, a Sho-Deen Inc. development, received Village Board approval of its concept plan in July.

Whistle ban measure approved
            In April, village trustees agreed to pursue the least costly method to silence train whistles in the village in compliance with federal safety regulations. They decided installing wayside horns at the First Street and Route 47 rail crossings were the solution. The wayside horns will cost an estimated $100,000 per crossing, compared to $400,000 for a previous proposal—to install a center barrier of pylons at the First Street crossing, village engineers said.

            “It won’t be a quiet zone, but it will be a better situation than we have now,” village trustee Craig Swan said.
 
When it rains, it pours
            More economic uncertainty faced the village after unusually heavy rains in September led to sewer system backups in the village. The village is conducting a study of residential sewer systems to determine the cause and potential cost of resolving the situation. 

            The village’s new public works superintendent, John Nevenhoven, will be among village staff members working on the study. Village trustees hired Nevenhoven in September to replace Art Sanchez, whom they asked to retire four months earlier, saying they needed someone more experienced in the position. Nevenhoven was assistant village manager in Huntley from 2004 to 2005. The village is paying Nevenhoven $78,500, compared to Sanchez’ $88,993 final salary.
 
Hold-ups hit home
            Citing possible financial hardship on the part of the robbers, FBI statistics show that recently, bank hold-ups have risen significantly. An Elburn heist was among several area bank robberies this year in towns including Union, Huntley and Campton Hills.

            Thanks to the FBI, the village of Elburn did not have to bear the entire cost and burden of investigating the bank robbery that happened March 25 at Fifth Third Bank. Elburn police and the FBI are continuing to cooperate in trying to apprehend the “Backpack Bandit.”

            “We are just still waiting for some lab reports. The case is still under investigation,” Elburn Police Chief Jim Linane said Monday. “We’re still making progress, but it’s slow.”