Village leaders provided an update of their communities at the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Summit, held Jan. 31, at Makray Memorial Golf Club.
Barrington Village President Karen Darch told Chamber members that 2011 was a good year for Barrington, which picked up 34 new retail tenants. The village realized 6 percent more in sales tax receipts than predicted, she said.
One of the highlights for 2012 will be the coming of Heinen’s Fine Foods, which will create 80 to 120 new jobs, Darch said. Heinen’s, an Ohio grocery chain, is due to open in summer in the former Staples Building, according to 365Barrington.com.
Barrington will continue to focus on environmental concerns in 2012, Darch said. Village leaders will continue to work on legislative issues and to advocate in Springfield to hold onto local government revenues.
Darch said a huge issue will be the funding of an underpass to alleviate traffic congestion from Canadian National's plan to use the former Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway (EJE). The village is urging the railroad to pay for the majority of the underpass.
“Right now we have only six trains a day on EJE. In the near future, we will have 21 trains per day. We will continue as a village to work toward mitigating whatever comes our way,” Darch said.
Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud told attendees that Barrington Hills is not just a community of estate homes, but also is home to hundreds of businesses. He said many of the CEOs of large corporations have offices in their homes. The village has been working to upgrade the infrastructure to support these businesses.
“Today, because of the work we’ve done with Comcast and others, you can host your own servers,” he said.
Abboud said members of the community need to cooperate and work together.
“I encourage all of you to think about how to get past the craziness and work together as partners at the local government level,” he said.
Deer Park Trustee Keith Olson said the village has been successful at getting the roads up to par and replacing dilapidated entrance signs. He said dependence on groundwater is a large issue that concerns the village.
Lake Barrington Trustee Dorothy “Connie” Schofield encouraged attendees to check out village businesses such as the Saturn dealership and ZaZa’s restaurant. She said the village is working on a market analysis of all businesses to determine how the village can help them succeed.
Schofield said the village is happy that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agendy finally has funded cleanup of a former John Tarkowski dump site that has plagued the village for decades.
North Barrington Village President Albert Pino said the village does not have much commercial development. He said 25 percent of the village’s budget goes to groundwater management and environmental issues.
He said the village was disappointed that a 109-acre parcel slated for commercial development, at the southeast corner of Rand and McHenry roads, has been proposed for the county. He said North Barrington and Hawthorn Woods had an intergovernmental agreement regarding the parcel.
Pino expects that the village will be involved in tussles with the county over the parcel in 2012.
Port Barrington Trustee Shannon Yeaton said the village is very small at 1,500 people.
“We have about a dozen home businesses, three bars and a church,” she said. She said the village plans to redo its commercial corridor, but needs to address infrastructure first.
South Barrington Trustee Joseph Abbate said the Arboretum shopping center had difficulties, but seems to be doing OK now. Abbate found it interesting that while the sales tax revenue from commercial activity increased slightly, the food and beverage tax revenue increased by 13 percent.
“I don’t know if a lot of people like to go out and eat or nobody likes to cook anymore,” Abbate said.
Barrington Township Supervisor Gene Dawson noted that the villages have been successful in implementing change through the Barrington Area Council of Governments.
He said the Barrington Area Council of Governments was instrumental in amending the vehicle code to lower speed limits from 35 to 25 mph. He said the Barrington Area Council of Governments also had a hand in the foreclosure bill, so that municipalities and townships are notified when a home forecloses.