Planning and economic development were at the forefront Wednesday as Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves delivered the ninth annual “State of the Village” address.
The luncheon was held at , 1 Pete Dye Drive, and was sponsored by the . The event was attended by several village employees and trustees, as well as dozens of school, township, library, park district, police and fire officials.
Also in attendance were Romeoville Mayor John Noak, Lockport Mayor Dev Trivedi and Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar.
Rather than outlining village finances or small projects, Reaves focused his address on “commerce and economic conditions,” as well as new economic development initiatives.
Business Comings and Goings
Despite several business closings in 2011 and early 2012—such as , , and —Reaves said he remains optimistic about the level of interest in Lemont.
, , and have all opened in downtown Lemont in the past year. Other businesses, like , have brought something completely new to the village, Reaves said.
In the past 60 days, village officials have received letters of intent from three companies, started work on two contracts and have meet with several individuals interested in bringing their business to Lemont, he added.
“(We hope to bring) more new businesses to Lemont, but timing is everything,” Reaves said. “…Hopefully by this time next year we’ll have more to talk about.”
A significant factor in attracting new residents and businesses to Lemont is improving access to transportation, Reaves said.
Earlier this year, officials in Lemont, Lockport and Romeoville , which will address the growing number of concerns about train noise along the Heritage Corridor Line.
The study will be completed by spring or summer, and will determine the feasibility of achieving a quiet zone designation.
The village is also awaiting the results of a . Launched in April 2011 by the Illinois Department of Transportation, the study will examine the possibility of increasing service on the line, which currently provides only three morning trains and three evening trains on weekdays.
“The capacity study is key,” Reaves said.
Village officials are also waiting on an update on plans for the Illinois High-Speed Rail, he said.
Reaves said village administrators have put together a strategic plan that will focus on five goals in 2012.
First, the village will seek to increase intergovernmental cooperation in increase efficiency and cut costs.
“We want to truly identify the costs shared throughout the village with the other taxing bodies and come up with a plan to reduce those costs,” he said.
Second, the village will seek to maintain financial stability by operating under a balanced budget and making sound investments for the future.
“The bottom line is that our board has been extremely fiscally responsible,” Reaves said. “We have our fund balances, and we’re working to improve them.”
Reaves said the village will also focus on workforce development and comprehensive capital improvement.
One significant investment the village will make this year is a much-needed update to Village Hall, which was last renovated in 1991.
Plans are also moving forward for the long-planned Triangle Project, which will improve road and sidewalk conditions at the intersection of Walker, McCarthy and Derby roads. The project will go to bid in April.
The village also hopes to move forward with installing a new traffic signal at the intersection of Walker and McCarthy, Reaves said.
The final focus of the strategic plan will be economic development, Reaves said.
“This goal includes things like bolstering the downtown economy, retaining existing businesses and attracting new business,” he said.
During the address, Reaves acknowledged that Lemont would likely never be able to attract the same type of commerce as neighboring communities like Romeoville and Bolingbrook, which created roughly 3,000 new jobs over the past year.
However, he remains confident in the plans laid out by the village and the projects they've lined up for the coming years.
"What we're doing is working as a region with other mayors and with individuals and groups in town so we can make Lemont a great place to live, give people in town the things they're looking for and foster growth," Reaves said.