2011 State of the Village Speech

PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO READ PRESIDENT BIRUTIS’ STATE OF THE VILLAGE SPEECH:  Delivered at Village Hall

March 3, 2011

State of the Village 2011- Deborah Birutis

April will mark the end of my second year as Village President.

One of my most important goals was to establish a positive can-do atmosphere in Winfield.  We are fortunate in that we have had a great village board that works together and listens to all of the residents. We are blessed with a talented and dedicated village staff.  We also have an amazingly talented and passionate group of volunteers.  Everyone has stepped up to make a difference.

After 2 years, I think I can say that the positive can do approach has taken hold and not only are we making great progress but we are creating a buzz that is attracting businesses, developers and new residents.

2010 was a great year for Winfield especially on the development front. Despite Winfield’s relatively small size it was ranked among the top 10 communities in the entire Chicago-land area for new home permits pulled according to the Metro Study report.   To quote Court Airhart one of our local developers “That’s pretty amazing stuff”.  Thanks to our outstanding rate of residential development in Winfield and our impact fee structure we have been able to provide over $850K in 2 years to our schools, fire district, parks, library and the village itself.   To show how important impact fees are through residential development over the past 5 years we have been able to provide over $2.5 million in extra revenue.

Winfield’s development especially in this economy is a direct result of our positive attitude and the way we have worked with builders. We have demonstrated that we value their partnership but will also listen to our residents for a win-win outcome.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT:

Business development has been a key focus of my administration. We have worked on the behalf of existing businesses.  As I mentioned at the last Chamber function:  We worked with UP to improve traffic flow at the tracks, reducing the amount of time the gates are down by 1 hour per day.  Throughout the year we announced Chamber events in the Village’s monthly newsletter and continually stressed the importance of shopping locally.

Our bikeways  planning group hosted the 1st Tour de Winfield.

Our River walk committee started Winfield’s “Taste of Winfield”.

At the same time, this administration has worked to expand our business base and retail tax base by attracting new businesses and developers. We created Winfield’s first marketing brochure.  We created the Economics Development Committee that is focused on contacting and attracting new businesses.  This great group of volunteers is currently working on attracting a bakery which is a business that our residents have said they wanted in Winfield.  I have also been making calls and conducting meetings with some major businesses in the Chicago-land area that our residents have expressed a desire for.

We are beginning to see results: 10 new businesses have started up here in Winfield in the past year and we are going to be adding Chicago Street Pizza and Pepper Jack’s Grill in the next few months.

We have also been hard at work on  Town Center.  Not only have residents told us that this should be a priority, and common sense tells you that a vibrant town center is critical to any village, but because of the TIF district it is critical to execute from a financial perspective.

In a recently completed analysis by Kane,McKenna and Associates they have calculated that under a full development scenario Winfield stands to gain up to 16.5 million over the remaining life of the TIF that could be reinvested in our downtown structure.  Also according to the study, a fully developed downtown would more than double Winfield’s sales tax revenue.

This year we have been talking to developers and working with land owners in the area to consolidate property.  We have purchased a couple of properties using the TIF funds and are negotiating to purchase more.

2011 will be critical and I’ll talk a little more about our strategy in a few minutes.

INFRASTRUCTURE:

We made some great strides in the area of infrastructure in 2010 but I would like to see Winfield make a lot more progress in 2011.  In July, we completed a pedestrian underpass just east of Winfield road.  The underpass was funded by grants and donations, completed on time and on budget.

This Summer, thanks to a  federal grant we were able to resurface Winfield Rd, Gary’s Mill Rd and part of Jewell road.

In July CDH contributed $300,000 to help repair our roads and in October Winfield started up a new PACE bus route that connects with Oak Brook and other public transit options.

One of Winfield’s biggest infrastructure issues continues to be the roads.  Half of all Winfield’s roads are poor to failing condition.  In November, we went for a road referendum that if it passed would have repaired our roads and put Winfield on a much needed maintenance cycle.  Had the referendum for the 3.3 million dollar bond passed we could have saved the village close to $900K over 20 years through Build America Bonds.  However, we are going to maintain a positive approach, continue to look for grants, ask for donations and come back with other options in 2011.

The repairing of our roads will continue to be a major focus for this administration.

MOVING ON TO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT:

Winfield’s success in attracting businesses and residential development is due in no small part to the Village’s natural beauty.  Winfield is surrounded by forest preserves and the Illinois prairie path.  The village board and our resident volunteers are committed to not only preserving Winfield’s beauty but enhancing it and making it easier to enjoy for everyone.  To that end Winfield is planning a River-walk that will connect the Geneva Spur/Klein Creek Farm to the north with the DuPage Forest preserve to the south with the a beautiful river-walk through the heart of our downtown district.  This is how great our community spirit is here in Winfield.  We have a group of dedicated residents who have volunteered to raise all the funds necessary.  Also, thanks to CDH”s pledge to match donations up to $80K, the engineering phase of the river-walk will begin in 2011.  Many local businesses have already remarked that the river-walk will be beneficial to their viability.

Then still another group of positive can do residents have also been working to connect Winfield’s downtown with the surrounding bike paths. I also met with David Hiller from the McCormick Foundation and Matt La Fond, Director of Cantigny.  Matt forwarded the message to our Village Board that Cantigny is in the early stages of developing a bike trail within the estate that would connect St James Farm to the south and Winfield to the north.  We look forward to working with the Village Board to make this happen.   These projects show what we can accomplish when we are all working together!

COMMUNICATION:

Finally, let’s talk a little about communication. Because we are a small community it’s important that we join other municipalities in voicing our needs to the state on subjects like pension reform (unfunded mandates for the state) which is threatening the financial well being of all municipalities.   Towards that end we are members of the Du Page Mayors & Managers Conference.  I was appointed a director last year and will continue to help Winfield by being on this Board.   This helps Winfield stay abreast of issues and make our voices heard.

My administration has also tried to improve the communication with all residents.  During the last election residents told us that they want more information on what is going on in the Village.  In response, we have created on a monthly basis the Winfield Word newsletter.  I have received great feedback on this monthly publication.  We have been improving our website and created an e-blast for our residents who want immediate notification of Winfield’s breaking news.

THE YEAR AHEAD:

We are clearly making huge progress across many areas and 2011 promises to be very exciting.  We can make great things happen.  It will require us to maintain a village board that listens and works well together.  We will need to continue to rely on the positive can do attitude and talents of our volunteers.   Our staff will need to continue to perform at a high level.

From a revenue standpoint, our strategy for 2011 will center around:

1.continuing Winfield’s fantastic pace of new home development.

2.consolidating land in town center with the goal to secure the space needed for development.

3.We will continue looking at growth opportunities outside of town-center based on the following criteria:

-revenue potential

-land availability

-traffic patterns & volume

-the true cost of development

-time to develop

-and the realistic probability of success taking into account economic climate and real obstacles like wetlands, annexations and border agreements.

Then we can prioritize these areas.   At the same time we will continue to meet with residential and commercial developers as well as businesses looking to consider Winfield as their new home.

As in the past, we will continue to monitor all of our costs line item by line item.

We will move forward on our Riverwalk plans and community bike paths.

We will also continue to try to communicate everything that’s going on to our residents and take into account everyone’s input for moving this town forward.

We will bring back options to the residents for repairing our roads.

We will need to be bold and aggressive.  We will need to work hard but there is no doubt in my mind that we can continue to make terrific progress in 2011.

Thank you and God bless.

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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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