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Image of Lakemoor rises as election issue

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LAKEMOOR – Cleaning up Lily Lake will bring economic development to Lakemoor, the challenger to the incumbent village president said.

Tina Asmus, a 12-year resident of Lakemoor, is challenging President Todd Weihofen in the April election.

“They’re going to drive down [Route] 120 and see this beautiful lake,” Asmus said. “It’s something I’m so passionate about. ... But now, it’s become a weedy mud puddle.”

It’s not the first time Asmus has taken on the village.

She successfully challenged the village’s public nuisance ordinance in court after she was fined $25 for using two toilets and a sink as flower planters.

That’s not the reason she’s running, though, she said.

“I’m a member of the community who has paid a lot of attention, and I’m concerned with what I see,” Asmus said. “I have some really great ideas, and I think I can make them happen.”

A former preschool worker and live-in nanny, Asmus became a stay-at-home mother to take care of her son, Cody, now 11, who has Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She and her husband, Jeff, have two other children, Zach, 17, and Lillianna, 8.

Asmus was one of about 100 residents who received warnings not long after Weihofen took office as part of what he calls his “Broken Windows Campaign,” which takes after a theory that targeting smaller nuisances will prevent more serious crimes.

Cracking down on the enforcement of ordinances after the firing of Lakemoor’s police chief also was part of Weihofen’s effort to professionalize the police department. The village has gone through three police chiefs since then.

The changes are working, Weihofen said.

“We’re trying to rebuild the image of our town,” he said. “If we’re going to be somewhere developers want to be, it’s got to be cleaned up. It needs to be kept to a standard.”

Asmus called Weihofen’s methods “a bully campaign.” She said she’d like to start community health groups and other volunteer groups to help older or disabled residents who can’t clean up their properties on their own. “Instead of going out and ticketing these people, you go out and offer them help,” she said.

Weihofen also championed a rental home inspection ordinance that passed unanimously a few months into his term. It requires landlords and rental property owners to register with the village annually and provide copies of leases to prove the properties aren’t being abandoned or neglected.

The village hired part-time employee about a year ago to keep up on building inspections, which had been handled by the public works department, Weihofen said.

The landlord ordinance isn’t the only campaign on Weihofen’s agenda.

An updated long-term comprehensive plan developed by Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has been in the works, funded by a federal grant. The board also is considering sites where it could build a new village hall.

The idea is to make Lakemoor, which started as summer vacation destination, into a real town by creating a walkable Town Center along Route 120, which, according to Weihofen, is the “heart of the community.”

A feasibility study is in the works to see whether the area could be made into a tax increment financing, or TIF, district to revitalize the area, Weihofen said.

And he doesn’t disagree with Asmus’ plan to clean up Lily Lake.

“Development will provide us with a tax base and bring funds so we can do projects with our lake and our parks,” he said, pointing to work that already has been done. The village bought and demolished two homes to expand Morrison Park on the lakefront.

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