McHENRY – Despite a challenging economy, the city has brought in more businesses, implemented new programs and has several large road projects lined up, the mayor said during the annual State of McHenry address.
In the speech made at a McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce lunch Wednesday, Mayor Sue Low laid out the city's accomplishments over the past year and outlined what is coming up over the next.
"A lot of positives things are happening in McHenry despite the economy, the Riverwalk expansion, decommissioning of the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant, a possible new recreation center, just to name a few," she said. "When you look around McHenry if all that you see are empty storefronts, then you don't see what I see."
Low contrasted the uncertain revenue streams – in particular sales and income tax, which have started to rebound, and the property tax levy, which the council kept level for a fourth straight year – with the list of programs and projects the city has added or developed over the year.
The McHenry City Council has adopted an "extremely conservative approach" to its capital improvement agenda but still has several major road projects lined up for this construction season, she said.
More improvements are planned for Charles J. Miller Road, including the extension of Knox Drive, and utility work started around the intersection of Routes 120 and 31.
The project, which is expected to wrap up in November, includes widening and reconstructing Route 120 and Route 31 in the area surrounding the intersection, according to a news release.
Part of the city's contribution to the $7 million project will cover street lights, a "much needed" improvement, Low said.
The Riverwalk is also set to be extended this year using Riverwalk Foundation funds, and public boat slips could be installed as soon as this summer, she said. A February Committee of the Whole meeting addressed how to market the now city-owned property at Miller Point.
"I cannot emphasis enough our commitment to the Riverwalk as a tool for economic development and revitalization," Low said.
Low also credited the city's Community Development Department and its head, Deputy City Administrator Doug Martin, for its role in bringing in new businesses, including Buffalo Wild Wings, McHenry Auto Exchange and Stack-On, which purchased the 217,000-square-foot former Motorola building in the McHenry Corporate Center.
The building has been difficult to market due to its "immense size" and has sat vacant for 13 years, Low said.