What people want

By on February 12, 2009

by Lynn Meredith
“What do you want to see in your town in the future?”

That was the question posed to random and not-so-random people on the street and in the businesses of Kaneville, Maple Park, Sugar Grove and Elburn.

In a nut shell, people want their towns to be liveable, with conveniences and amenities that make life easier.

Elburn residents are looking for ways to keep the downtown vital and connected.

With Elburn part of the commuter railroad line into Chicago, Elburn resident Richard Andrzejewski would like to see better access from the train station to downtown.

“I would like access from downtown to the train, just to open it up for getting in and out,” Adrzejewski said. “It would bring more visitors to Elburn from other towns that are on the train line, too.”

Downtown Elburn is the place Peggy McCann, who has lived in the village for two years, would like to see full of stores. She and her husband patronize as many local businesses as they can, going to Ream’s Meat Market and Dave’s Barbershop, both located on Main Street (Route 47).

“I would like to see all the stores occupied downtown. Because we patronize the community, we like to shop downtown Elburn rather than anywhere else,” McCann said.

She likes the idea of having multiple stores open in downtown locations, like when Gliddon’s Drugs and the Grocery Store were both downtown, or when Sears opened in the former Grocery Store location.

“We really like it here. We’d just like to see other stores occupied. It would help out the economy and everything else,” McCann said.

A few more services in Kaneville are what Pat Hill of Hill’s Country Store would like to see.

While she knows that many people in the town would like to see a gas station, for her, the convenience store that goes along with a gas station would not be good for business.

“We need a gas station eventually; it’s inevitable,” Hill said. “But it would kill my business.”

Hill said she would like to see a pizza place instead. She also envisions an antique store and a doctor or dentist office.

“That would be very good revenue for the town, bringing people in,” Hill said.

Those polled in Maple Park said they would like to see a rejuvenation and revitalization of the town.

Librarian Suki Blake would like to see more businesses in downtown that would keep Maple Park from becoming a “bedroom community” where people sleep, but work and purchase goods in other places.

“I would like to see more community-friendly businesses so that the essence of small-town does not change in Maple Park, but that there is more offered so that people who are here will stay,” Blake said.

Blake said that little restaurants and cottage industries could survive. She doesn’t see the need for big box stores.

“We don’t need a Wal-Mart in Maple Park. There are two or three shopping centers very close by,” Blake said.

She added that an organized Park District would be a way to bring jobs to town.

Village trustee Kathy Curtis sees infrastructure repair as the key element in rejuvenating the town.

“We need to aggressively pursue revenue streams to upgrade, maintain and repair our infrastructure,” Curtis said.

She said that by repairing the streets, sidewalks, water and sewer, it not only would prevent further flooding like that which devastated the town in the fall, but would also improve the look of the town.

Curtis said two strip mall projects are approved for the southwest and northeast corners of Route 38 and County Line Road. She would like to see those fill with commercial businesses.

Residents in Sugar Grove want the convenience and tax break relief that commercial development would bring.

“I would like to see a lot more commercial coming in here to help alleviate some of the taxes,” Beth Blake of Sugar Grove said. “We’ve got residential here; now we need to get more business.”

Dunkin Donuts sounds good to her. She believes that spending her retail dollars in Sugar Grove is better than going into Geneva, Batavia or Aurora. She doesn’t want retail in the downtown area because it is residential and doesn’t “want it in her backyard, either.” She sees the acres of land farmed by local farmers as appropriate for industrial and commercial development.

“They want to try to keep it quaint, but this isn’t going to be a quaint farmer’s town anymore,” Blake said. “We’ve certainly got a lot of raw farmland around here.”

The Smiths, who moved to Sugar Grove from Hinckley, want the convenience of a lumberyard or a discount store.

“At our age, we want convenience. Quaint little shops are just way too much money,” Wendy Smith said. “But we’re really glad they’re building a new library.”

For James Mullet, he wants just two things.

“I want them to fix the potholes and get more books in the library,” Mullet said.


  1. Sandy

    February 12, 2009 at 5:15 PM

    We need a community swimming pool, or at the very least, some type of mutual rate with one of the other communities that has a pool……Elburnites have to pay a fortune to swim in other towns…..
    More series dvds at the library
    More books on dvd at the library
    Access to the train from downtown
    Another restaurant/bar (Cotti’s we miss you!)

  2. Patricia Romke

    February 13, 2009 at 1:34 PM

    Wouldn’t we all like to attract more businesses to downtown Elburn? To do this we need to offer more incentives. Working together with the existing area businesses, the Elburn Chamber of Commerce, and our own Community Development Director we could create an exceptional downtown with new street lamps, decorative sidewalks, and plantings. I would like to see our façade grant program increased in the coming years to allow more businesses the opportunity to perform a face-lift and recoup matching funds from the Village of Elburn. The matching funds would be paid out when the improvements are completed. Although these projects would not be completed overnight, getting started will create the raison d’être, making downtown Elburn more attractive, and our place to meet friends and spend time together.
    Visit my website at http://patriciaromke.com

  3. matt smith

    February 15, 2009 at 10:56 AM

    I would love to see a vibrant downtown Elburn. Incentives are a great idea for businesses, but having places patrons want to visit is important as well. Offering special incentives to certain types of businesses could go a long way in gently guiding downtown Elburn’s future. Some extra incentive for restaurants, maybe a hardware store, and small independent niche businesses. These are the types of places that make it in small downtowns. They don’t try to compete with anything the inevitable big box stores try to do.

    A great downtown is possible here, even with the trains. Look at Elmhurst. The same train line runs right through their downtown, and it is still a great place to be.

  4. mike the taxpayer

    February 17, 2009 at 6:00 PM

    We need better and more businesses downtown. Agreed. How will it happen? I would like to see a sportsbar that doesn’t have kareoke and has good food. Is that all it takes is tax breaks? How many businesses have taken part in the facade program where up to 50% of upgrades to downtown Elburn are reimbursed by the village? I don’t have all the answers, no one does.

  5. Patricia Romke

    February 18, 2009 at 11:42 AM

    At a recent Village Meeting, Dr. Richard Stewart who owns the building on Main St. east of the RR tracks that houses his dental office & the driving school presented a plan to do an extensive face lift on the front of his building. He has requested the matching funds available through the facade grant program when his renovations are completed. The improvements he will undertake are far in excess of the grant match, but it will help to defray a portion of his costs. I believe that this is a viable program and one that should be expanded. It would be encouraging to see the owners of the vacant buildings on Main St. to offer lease incentives to attract new businesses also. The Village of Elburn Community Development Director is also working with the Elburn Chamber of Commerce on economic development; they are meeting tomorrow to discuss this same topic.

  6. mike the taxpayer

    February 18, 2009 at 9:05 PM

    Thank you Patricia. That’s two out of 20-30 or however many we have along 47. It would be nice to have more businesses do this. I always forget the name of the business on the SE corner of 47 and North ST but that one looks better too. I need to start coming to the meetings if I wasn;t so busy. I read all the minutes and agendas. Have them post those quicker online, it takes a month and a half to be put on the village’s website.

  7. Patricia Romke

    February 19, 2009 at 2:38 PM

    If you are referring to Express Valuations, they too utilized the matching facade grant. I will pass on your suggestion about posting the minutes more quickly. We also worked with Doc Hall to have repairs made to his building on the NE corner of RT 47 and North St. After being an eyesore for so long it now has a fresh paint job and the necessary repairs were made. This was done at his own expense.

  8. rob reilley

    February 20, 2009 at 3:55 PM

    Thanks for coming on here Mrs. Romke.

    I think all the business suggestions above are great. Of course a Burger King, Dunkin Donuts and a Chilis restaurant would be nice in the newer section of Elburn (RT 47 and 38).

    Also it would be nice to upgrade the Elburn community center. Add some racquetball courts and a workout center maybe. It could be additional revenue for the village from the membership fees.

  9. Patricia Romke

    February 20, 2009 at 4:38 PM

    Fast food chains are great, because they are quick and easy for in and out service, but I envision a more upscale type of coffee shop/dining venue. Something like “Four Beans” in Batavia would be a great addition to our community. They are not unlike a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts but they are a solely owned business and bring a unique one of a kind flair, a gathering/meeting place. Regarding the Community Center, that is a not-for-profit organization, not under the Village of Elburn, but I see where you are going and I do support additional opportunities for teens and adults to have a place to go, work out, or just hang out. Keep the good ideas coming!
    Please visit my website patriciaromke.com and don’t forget to vote on April 7th.

  10. Rob Reilley

    February 21, 2009 at 11:29 AM

    I like that idea of Four Beans coming to Elburn. Now that Munchie P’s has hopefully opened the door for more businesses in neighboring towns to want to come to Elburn maybe they will too. I think so far Erin Willrett has done a good job despite the economy of keeping Elburn on the right path and it sounds like you have similiar visions for Elburn as she does.

    I do have a few more suggestions: Oberweis or Cold Stone (sorry Alice), a Hallmark and a hardware store.

    Thanks again for coming on here. I will check out your site and make sure I vote in April.