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CL mayor lauds success, looks ahead

CRYSTAL LAKE – In glowing commentary at the annual State of the City address, Mayor Aaron Shepley said the city has weathered the worst of the economic downturn.

“I’m not saying we’re riding high on the hog,” he said. “... The financial condition of the city of Crystal Lake is stable, it’s manageable and it is balanced.”

Friday’s luncheon was a time for the city’s top elected official to highlight positive things in the community and make projections for the city’s future success.

The city has not levied a general fund property tax in years, the mayor pointed out.

Instead, the city relies on the retail sales tax to supplement its major operations, including police, engineering, planning, streets and administration.

“That’s something to be proud of,” Shepley said.

The city’s economic development incentive programs were key in filling 1 million square feet of vacant space over the past two years, he said. “We’re going to keep our eye on the ball, and we’re going to continue to fill spaces on Route 14 and elsewhere.”

Looking forward, the mayor said he intends to continue that momentum and that economic development will be a priority in the coming year.

Building on last year’s road projects – including Rakow, Walkup, Briarwood roads, Route 176 and Crystal Lake Avenue – the city is eyeing other projects. McHenry Avenue from Route 14 to Rakow Road will be a major capital project this year. Additionally, the mayor touched on future state projects at Routes 176 and 31, and widening Route 14 to Woodstock.

The city also has targeted bike lanes this year and plans to add more similar to those on Dole Avenue leading to Main Beach.

Shepley also lauded Three Oaks Recreation Area, which saw a 10 percent increase in visitors year over year, he said.

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