Former trustee has ‘unfinished business”

By on January 16, 2009

by Susan O’Neill

Former village trustee Joe Wolf said he has unfinished business with the village of Sugar Grove. Wolf was elected to the Village Board in spring 2003. He served one term before he was defeated in his re-election bid two years ago. Wolf said there is more he would like to accomplish, so he is running for the board again.

Wolf’s main goal for the future is to bring houses into Sugar Grove at a variety of price points. He said the village has made it too difficult to build housing affordable to the middle class. He wants to see more homes that a family of four with an income of less than $100,000 a year can afford.

Wolf’s answer is to lower building fees and revise the village’s building codes to attract developers who would build this type of housing. According to Wolf, with lower fees, there would be more housing, which would lead to more commercial development. This would bring in more sales tax to offset the lower fee structure.

“When I moved to Sugar Grove, it was a middle-class town,” he said. “I’m not saying we should not have custom-built homes, but we also need people who will buy homes that developers like Wiseman-Hughes and Pulte builds; homes that are affordable to the middle-class.”

He said that on a recent drive along Route 34, he saw all of the new commercial development from Sandwich to Yorkville.

“It’s amazing how much these towns have attracted in the last 10 years,” he said. “Most of these towns are not much larger than Sugar Grove. It’s a visual reminder of what Sugar Grove has failed to do.”

He said that Sugar Grove needs a variety of restaurants and stores, not just the high-end centers like the Forest City development considered several years ago.

“But officials and staff needs to be willing to change,” he said.

Wolf did not agree with the plan the board had a few months ago to renovate the Police Department portion of Village Hall.

“It was going to cost $500 to add on a garage, they called it a sally-port—and a locker room,” he said. “It was up to $700,000 by the next meeting. Nobody is looking out for the dollars. We need to look out for how tax dollars are spent.”

He said that, with the economy in the shape it is in, it is unlikely that the housing and commercial market will rebound for another year or two. But he said there is much that can be done now that will allow the village to take advantage when the economy does rebound.
Wolf is a long-time resident of Sugar Grove. He served on the Kaneland School Board for 14 years—three as board president. He is a member of the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church, where he has been active for the past 40 years.

He is a retired tool and dye maker. He was a union official with the United Auto Workers for 30 years, with four terms as union president for the local UAW.

“I’ve worked with a lot of people,” Wolf said. “I’ve seen value and goodness of all people from all walks of life and all economic statuses. I think Sugar Grove has to be open to everyone.”

He said he wants to have an open dialog during this election.

“If I don’t get elected because people don’t agree with my views, I still want my views to be heard,” he said. “That is more important than my being elected.”