FOX RIVER GROVE – Improving parking, marketing the town and talking to more potential businesses were some of the ways village trustee candidates said they would help pursue economic development.
Candidates for Fox River Grove village trustee Monday talked about bringing business to the downtown area and Bettendorf Castle, among other issues, during an election forum hosted by Boy Scout Troop 166.
“This is just for the community and to show we can help out with the election,” said Karol Stankiewicz, the 15-year-old senior patrol leader.
There are six people running for three seats: incumbents Michael Ireland and Suzanne Blohm, and challengers Chester Olencheck, Tom Anderson, Robert Kandler and Andrew Migdal.
Ireland said the current board is in planning mode on where it wants to take the village, as there is now a tax increment financing district in place downtown to help with redevelopment. He said the village is working on putting together facade improvements and working on finding parking in the downtown area.
He also said there is a need to rebuild roads and infrastructure.
“Our infrastructure is over 100 years old; it’s crumbling,” Ireland said. “We need to take care of that.”
Anderson said the village needs to market itself, and its access to schools and the train line. Representatives from town need to talk to the right businesses the village wants, he added.
“We don’t need another Cash for Gold,” Anderson said.
Kandler agreed on the need to talk to area businesses, “to see what they need and what they think we should do at moving forward, and hopefully get a ... committee going we can look at attracting new businesses.”
Olencheck said that there is a need to go to different businesses or corporate headquarters, and show them “what we have to offer in this town,” he said. “We have plenty to offer. I believe it has gone stale. ... We need to go talk to them one on one and show them a plan we have for them.”
He added there is a need to bring more service-oriented businesses, such as restaurants, into town.
“Usually people from our town go to other towns to eat,” Olencheck said.
Migdal said Fox River Grove needs to look at parking in the downtown area.
“There has to be parking on the business side of Route 14,” Migdal said. “The major thing is parking. You have to have convenience, otherwise people will stay in their cars.”
Blohm said there have to be marketing efforts for the downtown, and the village is working on parking to attract and retain businesses.
However, the appearance of town is also important, she added.
“We need to implement and enforce some property maintenance standards in our downtown, so once we get it in the position we want it to be in, it stays that way,” Blohm said.
When it came to the issues surrounding whether to allow tours at the Bettendorf Castle, Anderson said he would keep an open mind on the situation.
He did say that owners have the right to use their property as they wish, but added that zoning ordinances restrict how much people can do on their properties to protect neighbors.
Kandler said compromise is needed on both sides of the issue.
Olencheck said that the property should be allowed to be opened to the public on occasion, but both sides need to work together.
“Some people in town have parties that draw 75 to 100 people to their house. Are we going to restrict that, too?” Olencheck said.
Migdal said he understands the complaints from the neighbors about excess traffic if there was an event, and the village needs to figure out a way to keep neighbors safe.
However, the building should be allowed to have tours, he said. “I think it would be a shame if the village said ‘No.’ ”
Ireland, who has helped write draft ordinances to regulate home tours, said the village needs to protect all the residents in the community and people at the events.
Blohm said with the castle being in a residential area, she does not support it being a moneymaking venue “where they would have outdoor parties with amplified music ... at any night during the week.”
FRG village trustee candidates
Suzanne Blohm (i)
Michael Ireland (incumbent)