Photo Credit: Glancer Magazine
All leftover campaign funds will be donated to a local charity at the completion of the campaign.
GET ON BOARD
Take Part in Something Great
From the Desk of Jennifer Konen
Dear Sugar Grove Residents,
I’ve met so many of you over the past few months who have told me that we need a change in our leadership in Sugar Grove. Our current Village President has had twenty years to lead our Village to prosperity, with little progress. His ideas have turned away developers for over a decade. Ultimately, Sean’s ‘vision’ has never aligned with what you – the residents, have been asking for. I say enough of the fluff.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself, my thoughts and an attainable vision for Sugar Grove. I understand the beauty of living in a small-town community – I grew up in one, and I have lived in Sugar Grove for almost 20 years. This is where my husband and I have chosen to raise our family. While the slower pace and quietness of a small town can be nice, it also poses a unique set of challenges.
Sugar Grove is larger than the town that I grew up in. We do have amenities here that allow us to grab groceries, gas, and a quick lunch or dinner. Unfortunately, like many of you, I had hoped that our town would have progressed further than it has. If you are like most of the people I’ve talked to recently, you’ve been waiting for more conveniences to come to town. Sure, many residents are perfectly happy to go elsewhere to shop for the things that they need. But having sat on the Village Board, I can see that pinching pennies is no way to sustain our budget. We need to increase our revenues. I propose we do it through commercial development that makes our Village a better place to live. My opponent is chasing dollars at the expense of our quality of life. We cannot afford to wait for developers to come to us. That approach demonstrates a complete lack of leadership and vision.
My vision is towards community-based development. I am focused on bringing to town businesses that we can patronize and that will also bring people into our community to spend their dollars. I would like to see us attract family-friendly businesses that focus on recreation and family activities, makes us a destination, provides shoppers with unique variety, encourages people into sit-down restaurants, etc.
Many of you have heard of my support for the creation of a Village Center at the southeast section of IL Rt. 47 and Galena Boulevard. The current Village President calls this pie in the sky thinking – I call it vision, and I am not alone. Since 1998, the Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the Village (put together by a group of residents and planning experts) has designated this area as ‘Town Center Commercial’. The steering committee of Village residents and planning experts suggest that this area should consist of denser, clustered, pedestrian-oriented shopping, including retail, dining, and entertainment uses. This is exactly what I have been strongly supporting. I would love to see this turn into a place for shopping, sit-down dining, food trucks, walking paths, and potentially a partnership with our park district to create a community park with an open-air theater.
Strangely enough, my opponent is against what the residents and experts have suggested. It should come as no surprise why his Town Center property hasn’t been developed for the twenty years that he has been ‘leading’ our Village. His ‘vision’ is to take prime tax-generating commercial property along IL Rt. 47, designated in the Comprehensive Plan as ‘Corridor Commercial’, and turn it into residential, retail, and open space. Since when do we turn our prime income-producing commercial land into residential property?
Some have questioned my suggestion that we jumpstart the Village Center with a mixed use governmental, retail, and residential building. It is working in other communities, and it would work here. Believe me, I have not gone into this blindly. I have talked at length about this with many on our staff, including our Finance Director. Based on early review of numbers, the Village would be able to invest up to $7.5 million into a public/private partnership, and not incur any tax increases for our residents. Our Current Village President is quick to criticize my plan, but he is apparently slow to investigate whether it is viable or not. Based on preliminary numbers, I can confidently tell you we can make it happen.
The current Village President would like to use existing space for Village Hall. This project would use TIF dollars – approximately $600,000 – to finish less than 3,000 square feet of office space. TIF dollars should be going back to our other agencies – the school district, park district, fire protection, library, township, etc. Secondly, the space has already been determined to be too small for Village use and would be quickly outgrown. We would ultimately be building a new Village Hall (i.e., my plan) after already spending $600,000. I am not interested in wasting your dollars.
I realize the Village Center plan has been met with reservation by residents – and I am listening. I will always listen to the feedback and opinions of the community. When I joined the Village Board a few years ago, I was told ‘we did that’, ‘we tried that’, ‘it won’t work’ – and it made me feel like the leadership had just given up. We cannot stop trying to make this community better. We can never give up. I watch communities around Sugar Grove continue to grow and succeed. Yes, new ideas mean that we at the Village have to work a little harder – but the reward will be in what we are able to accomplish for the community.
Our current Village President has been chasing large commercial development projects worth proposed millions of dollars in exchange for the quality of life for our residents. These are not businesses we can patronize – and frankly, nothing has come to fruition with this approach. While there is a place for industrial development within our community, it can’t be the only type of development we chase down. We need to develop in a way that will better the quality of life of our residents in our community. Smart, responsible and controllable growth.
Starting on Day One, I want to establish a clear and well-defined direction for our community. I want to know what the Board wants and most importantly – what do the residents want? Then we are going to create definitive/demonstrable steps to make it happen. We will communicate those steps to our residents and hold ourselves accountable to accomplish those tasks.
We have been a community without a plan, a defined vision, and true leadership for far too long. We are more than a community that ‘sits back and waits.’ Why should we continue to take a reactionary approach to development when we have people willing to proactively build our community and see it prosper? Sugar Grove needs someone who believes in the possibilities and will never lose sight of the goal. You deserve strong Village leadership that won’t give up.
Quite frankly, over the past 20 years the Village hasn’t really taken any meaningful steps towards developing the way that we have been told it would. This is not the community we thought it would be. From my discussions with most of you, it is not the community you want it to be. You want change, and I promise to bring it.
I encourage you to vote for change. Please vote for Jennifer Konen for Village President.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. If you have any questions, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I envision a community of respectful and caring residents, business owners and Village staff working together to develop and implement creative community-based strategies and economic opportunities, build strong neighborhoods, and make Sugar Grove a great place to live, learn, work, and play.
My Vision for the Village