Mayor Michael Collins, who is running unopposed (with the possibility of a write-in candidate) for a second term in the April 9 election, took a look back at the highlights of 2012 in the Village of Plainfield at the Jan. 16 State of the Village luncheon.
Collins was the featured speaker at the event, hosted by the Plainfield Area Chamber of Commerce at Whitetail Ridge Golf Club in Yorkville.
Collins took note of some of the new businesses that have arrived in Plainfield since the start of 2012, including two frozen yogurt shops, Cherry Berry and Yumz, plus Nevin’s Brewing Company, Durbin’s Pizza, Tailwinds Distillery, The Penalty Box, Peter Rubi produce store, Wild West BBQ and Kiddie Academy.
Downtown Plainfield saw the arrival of Just Ducky, Main Street Candy & Toys, The Wandering Dragon Game Shoppe and The Olive Gallery.
Some area businesses expanded in Plainfield, including Edward Hospital, which opened its new Healthcare Center on Route 59 this summer.
Mega Sports also expanded, adding 20,000 feet of new retail space on Route 30, while Bill Jacobs underwent a renovation.
More new local businesses are slated to open in 2013, Collins added, citing a Chipotle franchise and a Which Wich? sandwich shop, plus a new McDonald’s on Route 30 near 135th Street.
Collins also noted that the former Fox Valley Press building, which has been vacant for several years, will soon become home to a state-of-the-art electronics recycling facility.
Local company Vintage Tech Recyclers is partnering with Finnish recycling giant Kuusakoski to spend more than $5.7 million to renovate the facility, located at 135th Street and Route 30.
The company will bring 90 existing employees to the site, according to Collins, with the potential to add even more jobs.
“It’s a very unique building and it takes a unique person to move in there,” the mayor said. “We’re really, really happy to have them here.”
The village is also seeking a buyer for the former Baci Ristorante building. After investing more than $41,000 in repairs to the site — including mold abatement, fixing water damage and adding a new roof — plus the $125,000 purchase price, village officials are hoping another unique buyer comes in to develop the site.
“We thought we should try to save it,” Collins said of the former church, built in 1868. “We stabilized it, got it all clean.”
Now, officials hope to see the site return to the tax rolls as a new downtown Plainfield business. Collins said staff is seeking just the right developer for the site.
“I don’t mind telling you, it’s going to cost of few dollars to fix this rascal up,” he said.
Plainfield apartment complex
Collins said work is progressing quickly on the Springs at 127th apartment complex on 127th Street.
“I think this is going to be a worthwhile thing for Plainfield,” the mayor said, noting that price points in the 340-unit complex will range from $750 to $1,500 per month.
Collins had some words or reassurance for residents who expressed concerns about bringing the multi-family housing to Plainfield, saying the village will keep a close watch on the development.
“Rest assured that your village board will watch over this as it proceeds,” he said.
Collins noted that Plainfield police and local schools reviewed their school safety plan following the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December.
“[Plainfield police] train annually, they train throughout the year, to make sure they have the best response,” Collins said, assuring parents, “Your children are safe in school … we have a great police department that will respond [in an emergency].”
Though it’s not officially a Village of Plainfield project, Collins provided an update on plans to develop the DuPage River riverfront in downtown Plainfield.
This year, the Plainfield Riverfront Foundation raised $75,000 to move the project along at its annual Plainfield Fest. Meanwhile, the Midwest Brewers Fest chipped in another $25,000.
“We are moving forward, and as you know, no tax money is being used for this project,” Collins said.
He also noted that after a rocky start in its first year, Midwest Brewers Fest has become a destination for beer lovers.
“We’re on the map,” Collins said. “It’s going to be wonderful this summer. People plan their vacations around these brewers’ fests.”
Bridge projects move forward, road project preview
The long-anticipated Lockport Street Pedestrian Bridge project is moving along and will likely be done by late spring, Collins noted.
He also lauded Plainfield Township Highway Commissioner Sam Reichert for the completion of the new Renwick Road bridge.
Collins also told residents to brace themselves for the Illinois Department of Transportation’s plans to widen Route 30 from Route 59 to Spangler Road (north of I-55).
“It’s coming,” he said of the project, which will widen the road to four lanes from Spangler to Renwick and three lanes from Renwick to the Lake Renwick Heron Rookery.
The village’s transportation plan update, funded by a Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning grant, is also well under way.
“The time for marching in place is over,” Collins said of the projects. “It’s time to move forward.”
Water rates, levy to stay steady
After several years of increasing water rates, Collins said he hopes 2013 breaks the cycle.
“This year we hope we don’t have to raise water rates again,” he said, despite the fact that the City of Chicago has once again increased the rates for Lake Michigan water.
He lauded the village’s public works department for helping increase efficiency and reduce water loss, noting that water superintendent Mark Stofko was named the Illinois Potable Water Supply Operators Association Operator of the Year.
The village was able to keep water costs down, Collins said, despite that fact that this year’s drought meant Plainfield customers logged the second-highest usage in village history, and July 2012 ranked as the month with the highest usage ever.
Collins also noted that despite a drop in the village’s overall equalized assessed valuation, Plainfield’s tax levy won’t increase next year.
“Our rate is up a little, but the revenue [coming into the village] stays the same,” he said.
The current tax rate of about 43 cents per $100 of equalized assessed valuation (EAV) will increase to about 45 cents.