Welcome Back! What You Need to get up to Speed.
No vaca. Not even a stayca. Here’s how your Village Council spent its 97 days of summer.
Termed "an eyesore and dangerous." Worse yet, we don’t own it. Supposedly, rehabbing Hubbard Woods station was on Metra’s mind, and the Village agreed to rattle the bushes – but gently, since Metra’s default was to close the station down. Touch and timing are everything. Witness: new stairs. Total rehab or a quickie fix? TBD.
Evidently nips and tucks over the past several years aren’t enough. The VC approved a full-on facelift. And because that includes permeable pavers to filter stormwater into an underground collection system, the project qualifies as the last of the low-hanging fruit from the Stormwater Master Plan (not to be confused with Strand's alternative-to-the-tunnel plan to help West and Southwest Winnetka with its flooding). The Galleria likes it – says it should eliminate flooding there. Parking passes and timeline: TBD
To no one’s surprise, Ehlers Associates, the Village's consultants, found that the Elm Street Business District (and then some) qualifies as a TIF district under State Statute. (Psst: What’s a TIF? How’d we get here?)
To the VC, this is a no-new-taxes way to fund downtown redevelopment with new property tax revenues generated by, among other things, One Winnetka. But first, it’s got to make the case that without this TIF, the area is not attractive to developers, then convince the School, Park, and Library boards – and other taxing bodies – to take one for the team and forgo their short-term tax revenues for bigger bucks down the road.
Speaking of which…
Morphing inexplicably into The WINN, it worked its way through the advisory bodies one last time. Of the Zoning Board, Design Review Board, and Plan Commission, one lone commissioner still not feeling it. Next stop: Village Council to review site engineering, utility, stormwater, and public improvement plans, and make sure final plans look like the preliminary ones it saw nine months ago. Shovel to dirt, TBD.
In March, the Village Council decided to repurpose random monies from the downtown revitalization to-do list into an extensive reno of the corner of Spruce and Chestnut. “Fred’s Garage” was already in the process of making that happen, and the area was due for a facelift eventually anyway. Fast forward, bids came in and the lowest of the six was still $151,000 over budget. The Village will re-estimate the project and tee it up for 2018 budget discussions.
The Government Finance Officers Association loved our budget. Again.
For the umpteenth year in a row, the independent GFOA gave us itsDistinguished Budget Presentation Award. Said our budget works as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide, and is easy to understand. And better than most. Rest easy. If you don’t like the budget, at least, they said you can understand it.
Admit it, that empty seat was getting kind of creepy. Vacated when then-Trustee Rintz became President Rintz. Trustee Swierk was chosen for past gig and cred. As a former Design Review Commissioner he’s more than familiar with what makes Winnetka Winnetka. And knowing how things work is always a good thing when the cameras are rolling. Swierk will serve until Spring 2018 and then decide – or not – to run for a full term.
...when he made the Mother of all Decisions and OK’d the go-ahead on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Stormwater solution, giddy-up. In the finest hour of a process that took almost 24 months and redefined “arduous,” President Rintz polled the house [1:27:00] for support for the go-ahead. Unanimous show of hands and most certainly a boatload of votes for Commissioner Suffredin. How-we-got-here's and what's-nexts.
What to Watch for While Root-root-rooting for your Teams.
Team VC promises to be as busy as usual. Team YourWinnetka promises to keep you informed.
- Water main. 100+ years old and about as reliable as a teenager on prom night. Ironic: the water that gives us so much trouble when it comes into our homes gives us just as much when it doesn’t. The VC’s on that first part, and is teeing up the second. Budget-time can’t come fast enough.
- Here it comes again. The Post Office property is part of the proposed TIF district, and considering the recent Dwyer Park reno, should make for interesting conversations.
- The Downtown Master Plan Steering Committee is due to begin shaping the look and feel of our downtown. Follow us follow them as they grapple with zoning, parking, parklets, signage, and other items that will define our downtown experience.
- The MOU was just the beginning. From the jaws of defeat, the VC will sink its teeth into building a lasting stormwater solution. We’ll bring it to you. Bite by bite.
- Caucus Survey – coming your way in September. In a town of 4,000 households, there is no “them.” There’s only each of us with a voice, an opinion, and an insight. Complete your survey, submit it, and earn the Village you deserve.