Community > Wheeling Illustrated/Village Views

Click here to go to the Village Views Archive in the Reference Desk section of our website.A lot of the information in our Wheeling Illustrated (formerly known as Village Views) newsletter can be found in various places throughout our website.  This page will  feature an article from the most recent issue.  We also have an archive of past newsletters available in our Reference Desk section.  Click here to go to the Archive page.

March - April

From the Desk of President Dean S. Argiris - State of the Village Address

Members of the Wheeling community, I am honored to share with you the first State of the Village message since I was elected as Village President last April. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I’d like to offer a brief overview of where we’ve been over the past several months and what we have to look forward to
in the near future.

Wheeling’s economic outlook continues to improve, with retail sales up 11% over last year and metro area sales trending upward by over 4.09%, the industrial vacancy rate at 7.1% which is below the regional average of 8.5%, and an employment rate which has declined from 7% in August of 2013 to 6.3% in November of 2013. The Village understands that commerce depends on reliable infrastructure, so we’ve made investments to keep up with the community’s needs. Over the past year we’ve completed $8.8 million worth of substantial capital improvement investments which included improving every aspect of our water infrastructure, including water mains, elevated tanks, and the control system that makes it all run. Our Village-wide $3.5 million upgrade of water meters is also nearly complete, which will help keep rates low by giving us accurate usage data and making it easier for us to spot problems when they occur. We’re grateful to our residents and businesses for their cooperation during this upgrade.

We’ve also made it easier to get around Wheeling by foot and bike. In October we dedicated the 1.16 mile Phyllis Harmon Path
along Dundee Road, which creates a badly-needed pedestrian route across the river and the tollway, and will make traveling to
and from the east without a car easier and safer. Last year the Board adopted an Active Transportation Plan to help identify more
opportunities to make Wheeling safer for walkers and bikers, and also set policies to fund the construction of sidewalks. We’ve
also begun creating a stormwater master plan for the Village, a project you’ll hear more about as it takes shape.

Perhaps most exciting of all is the dawn of a new era at Chicago Executive Airport. The Village and its airport partner, the City
of Prospect Heights, recently adopted changes to our Intergovernmental Agreement that resolve longstanding administrative issues and give the Airport Board more tools to manage effectively under the leadership of its newly appointed Chairman, Robert McKenzie. Governor Quinn and IDOT just announced an investment of $5.3 million for runway improvements at the airport, and I’m confident that more good news is on the horizon. Chairman McKenzie and the Airport Board, Mayor Helmer and the Prospect Heights City Council, the Wheeling Board of Trustees, and Manager Jon Sfondilis all deserve much praise for their continued leadership. I look forward to many more good things from this shared community asset.

The Village’s aim in the months ahead is to encourage a business-friendly environment in which enterprises of all kinds can operate, collaborate, and prosper. We’re excited to see progress on two major development projects in the Dundee Road
corridor: Wheeling Town Center, a $100 million transit-oriented mixed-use project to be built between the Community Campus
and the Metra Station, and Northgate Crossings, which will bring 288 high-end apartments to Wheeling. Together these projects
will add nearly 600 new residential units to the center of town. We’re also looking forward to improvements at the Westin
Hotel site: the hotel’s new owners plan to invest $6–7 million in hotel renovations, and several new businesses will be opening
soon on the adjacent properties. We are also excited about new infrastructure and additional economic opportunities in the Lake-Cook Road and Milwaukee Avenue corridor.

It’s important to note that all of these developments are made possible directly or indirectly through Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which is by far the Village’s most effective tool for fulfilling its responsibility to promote Wheeling’s long-term prosperity. In response to the collapse in property values during the recent recession, the Village is now in the process of resetting two of our TIF Districts, specifically intended to promote much-needed development in the town center and in the area by the airport. We encourage everyone in the Wheeling community to learn about TIF and its many benefits, and we’re happy to answer any questions you have about it.

Some of our partners in other taxing bodies have expressed concerns about TIF, and the Village is committed to addressing them. Because we know our residents rely on all the taxing bodies that serve them to work together for their benefit, we strongly value our relationships with these organizations and always seek new opportunities for collaboration. For instance, we continue to work closely with Wheeling High School on initiatives that bring educators and industry together to better prepare the workforce of the future; we’re also looking forward to helping establish an innovative business incubator program at the high school that will sharpen the skills of tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. At the Senior Center we’ve established partnerships with the Park District and the Indian Trails Public Library to expand programming. Of course we’ll continue to work hard to find opportunities to cooperate with other government entities, including at the state and federal level.

Most importantly, we will continue to work with these other agencies and to serve our residents in an atmosphere of trust. The Village of Wheeling always works to be accessible, accountable, and transparent to its residents—which is why we’ve won awards
for our financial reporting practices for 33 years running. As technologies change, we continue to find ways to be more accessible: live video of meetings of the Board of Trustees and the Plan Commission is now available online from anywhere in the world, and we’re always providing new services through our website, including expanded GIS map data, as well as Police Department crime mapping and crash reports. We’re also exploring more ways to communicate with the public through social media. Transparency is an ongoing commitment, and one we take very seriously.

Finally, I’d ask that you remember that we at the Village do all these things out of love for the community. I am grateful to the Village’s Trustees for the energy, experience, and great ideas they provide, and look forward to exploring those ideas in the coming year. The Village is also lucky to have many motivated volunteers and commissioners who help us serve our residents. I was recently pleased to announce the formation of the 2014 Special Events Committee, which will be working to make our Independence Day, Lights Around Wheeling, and other events the best they can be, and to create new opportunities to get residents and businesses involved in their success. Be on the lookout for information on our Independence Day events in upcoming newsletters. And on a personal note, I’d like to welcome Frank D’Angelo, General Manager at Tuscany, back to Wheeling and Restaurant Row.

In closing, I’d like to encourage everyone who reads this to take pride in your community, and to express that pride by getting involved in some way: by serving on a commission, or volunteering at a school or the Senior Center, or mentoring a young person who’s interested in your industry; there are many possibilities. Another way to show your pride in Wheeling is to keep your eyes open for things that don’t seem right or that could be better, and letting us know about them: we’re glad to have the community as our eyes and ears. Above all, please remember to think of Wheeling as more than just the place you live
or the place you work; I truly believe that it is a place we are all helping to build together.

 

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