Development & Roosevelt Road

by Dennis Clark

In these difficult times when so many people are struggling with employment, higher cost everywhere and perhaps the inability to sell their home to move to a better place – it is very easy to look for someone, a local agency or government, to blame.

Yet in this dismal climate I would like to point out some positive facts I found on the internet:

  1. Eleven businesses decided to come to Winfield in 2010. Pepper-Jack’s Southwestern Grill will be opening in early 2011 and Winfield’s Economic Development Committee sent out over 150 inquires to businesses as Winfield looks to continue this trend including a bakery that has been consistently identified by residents as a desirable business.
  2. In 2010, Winfield, despite its relatively small size, according to a Metro Study report, ranked among the top ten communities in the Chicagoland area for new housing permits. As Fisher Farms is reaching it completion, the president of Airhart Construction stated, “There’s pretty amazing activity; I think it is very fair to say that Winfield is at or near the top of residential building permits pulled in DuPage County for 2010.”
  3. The Village Board and staff have shown builders such as Airhart and MI Homes that they value good partnerships. Last year MI Homes received approval for a major change to the planned development off Highlake Road and is adding 44 additional townhomes over commercial development.
  4. And tonight I see listed on the agenda that yet another residential development is being discussed for County Farm Road by a very familiar and quality development group, Kingsland Properties.

It is hard to argue with facts, and in this economy these are pretty amazing facts. I am not sure what draws these types of activities to Winfield and the people who buy these homes, but perhaps it could be attributed to the Village’s natural beauty and character that is provided by our mature trees, the surrounding golf courses and forest preserves, the DuPage River and the Illinois Prairie Path. Perhaps they have heard of the planning going on with the Riverwalk spurred in no small part by the matching donation of Central DuPage of $80,000 and the spirit of the people working on this project. Perhaps they see a Village Board that cares more about quality of life of its citizens and is making plans to address infrastructure issues and balance the budget. When I look back on past administrations this was not always the case and this Board is now saddled with some of these mismanagement issues from those past administrations.

When I look to many other Villages such as; Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, and Oak Brook to name a few, I see Villages that are currently struggling to pay for services in spite of a heavy concentration of retail development. West Chicago has a number of empty stores and Winfield has some of its own – notably on Geneva Road.

So if retail development is the key, as some folks are now claiming, why is it that other Village’s that have far more retail development can not fill their empty stores with merchants and are having financial difficulties? The idea of development of Roosevelt Road by eminent domain will cost the Village dearly in money, time and most likely lost property. The last time this was attempted, about 15 residents signed pre-annexation agreements with West Chicago and about 20 acres are now lost forever. I understand that several others are once again thinking of talking to West Chicago. For the taking of people’s land to give to another private entity usually does not settle well with people and they take very aggressive steps to protect themselves. I think that Roosevelt Road will one day be developed, but at this time it does not yet seem right. A feasibility study conducted back in 2003/2004 clearly showed the high cost to provide infrastructure to Roosevelt Road and a much better value and return could be obtained by going north to St. Charles and North Ave.

Studies have shown that empty retail stores do not produce the needed local taxes like residential development since residential goes on year in and year out regardless of the economy. Thus, it seems that our path of development for additional residential areas and infill, the concentration on the downtown redevelopment and push for commercial activity for St. Charles and North Ave corridor is probably the most prudent and safe course of action.

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About Positive on Winfield

Positive on Winfield is a blog with articles on local issues, local events, and local interests in Winfield, IL. Positive on Winfield is the blog website of the local civic action group, Winfield United for a Better Community.

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