FOX RIVER GROVE – Work continues on improving the quality of life in town, the village president said in his annual state of the community address.
Village President Bob Nunamaker spoke about the municipality's efforts to improve the quality of life for residents at the Cary-Grove Chamber of Commerce event.
The village has worked on parks improvements, including making parks handicap accessible, replacing playground equipment, and paving the parking lot at Lions Park.
It also is working to create a bicycle path around the village and a riverwalk that would tie Lions Park with the other side of the village. It's a plan that has yet to be funded, Nunamaker said.
Nunamaker highlighted the village's upgraded Metra station, which also has a vendor selling coffee, the village's Metra parking pass program, automatic billing program, and radio read water meters now being used.
Nunamaker also spoke of Derek Soderholm, who is the village's new village administrator. Nunamaker said Soderholm wears many hats, such as being the information officer, human resources director, and economic development director.
"We're running a thin staff here," Nunamaker said.
Nunamaker acknowledged the pending retirement of Public Works Director Jon Huizinga. The village does not plan to replace him, Nunamaker said.
John Reese, who oversees the parks and streets, and Tim Zintl who oversees the village's water and sewer departments, will now report directly to Soderholm, Nunamaker said.
Downtown redevelopment continues to be a focus for the village.
The village has hired Teska Associates to help with a downtown redevelopment plan, of where the village would want to see residential and retail located. When the plan is complete, which is expected to be in eight weeks, it will be something the village can share with developers.
Nunamaker said village officials continue to talk to developers about the downtown but are unable to discuss specifics.
"There's a lot of activity," Nunamaker said. "I think downtown redevelopment around the train station is something we look forward to, and I think it's going to happen."
Economic development is key to helping run village services.
"Nobody wants to pay more taxes, [and] everybody wants to have things as they are," Nunamaker said. "It's not going to happen; things keep increasing."
He said the village's state-mandated police pension continues to cost the village more.
In two or three years, the pension will take up all of the property taxes the village collects, Nunamaker said.
"Those things will keep going up, therefore your taxes will keep going up, unless we get somebody else to help with the taxes, and that's our plan."
Toward the end of the event, Nunamaker touted the pending arrival of Jewel-Osco, which will replace Dominick's in town.
Nunamaker said it will be 13 weeks before Jewel opens up, as a remodel takes place at the store. The company is working on a new format of fresher and higher quality products, he said.
"It's not going to be your dad's Jewel," Nunamaker said. "It's going to be something new."