Trustee candidates: North Aurora needs to grow business
By Denise Linke For The Beacon-News March 21, 2013 1:26PM
North Aurora candidates
Family: married; one daughter
Occupation: insurance and financial services
Political experience: four years on Village Board
Years lived in North Aurora: nine
Family: married; two children
Occupation: landscaping firm owner
Political experience: eight years on Village Board
Years lived in North Aurora: lifelong resident
Family: married; five children
Occupation: Illinois corrections residence counselor
Political experience: none
Years lived in North Aurora: 20
Family: divorced; four children
Occupation: retired psychologist
Political experience: none
Years lived in North Aurora: 10
Updated: April 23, 2013 2:06PM
NORTH AURORA – The two incumbents and two challengers running for three trustee seats all want to bring more homes, stores and industrial plants to the village.
They disagree only in how to achieve that goal and which type of development to promote first.
“As the economy improves, how we handle that transition and the new development that will come with it will be very important to the village,” said Trustee Chris Faber.
Faber said he’d like to see the Route 31 commercial corridor evolve into a pedestrian-friendly shopping destination that would bring families downtown.
“I’m looking for long-term development that ties the district to the river,” he said. “We have such a beautiful river, and we already have the recreational facilities by Village Hall, like the gazebo, the bike trail and the interactive stream feature.
“We should make it into a place where families can come, do some shopping, play in the park and then maybe walk to the ice cream parlor – if we can bring in an ice cream parlor.”
Trustee Mark Gaffino has a similar vision for Route 31, but he’s focusing on smaller, more immediate steps toward fulfilling it.
“There’s a lack of money right now, but I’m trying to push business owners to clean up their places and make the commercial area more attractive,” he said. “We can start with cheaper (remodeling) projects like facades because we do have TIF (tax increment financing) money for that. I would like to bury the power lines, because that would really make a difference in how the street looks. I don’t necessarily want it to look like downtown Geneva, but I would like to see some off-street parking and some quaint boutique businesses.”
Challenger Michael Lowery also would like to see boutiques on Route 31 and power lines buried beneath it – but only if taxpayers don’t get stuck footing the bill.
“My property values are going down, but my property taxes went up $500 last year,” he commented. “One of my motives for running for the board is to look into keeping our property taxes down.”
And challenger Allen Cavender suggests that the village should leave the power lines overhead and use its resources to upgrade the storefronts and infrastructure along Route 31.
“I drive up and down that street every day, and there’s quite a bit of improvement there already. The TIF district is clearly making a difference,” he noted.
“I’m not sure that burying the electrical lines is the right way to go. It would make a great aesthetic difference, but at quite a high cost that could be better spent elsewhere.”
Both challengers said they favor changing the focus of the largely vacant Towne Centre development between Woodman’s Market and Interstate 88 from retail to industrial uses, as builder McVickers Development LLC requested this month.
“The developer has made it pretty clear that there is no way that property will work as a retail area,” Cavender said. “Industrial development makes a lot of sense there.”
“If we could bring in light manufacturing and distribution facilities, that would be fantastic,” Lowery said. “That would bring in jobs, which would bring in more businesses.”
The incumbents also favor allowing industrial facilities in Towne Centre, but are reluctant to give up on the project’s original retail focus.
“I would like to see more retail in Towne Centre, but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen,” Gaffino said. “Some of the big box stores that are in there now are in trouble, and nobody else seems eager to move in there. If we allow industrial development, maybe we can at least get some jobs in town.”
Industrial facilities could help spur retail development, Faber observed.
“It could bring in a ton of jobs. Then people coming here to work would have lunch here and do their shopping here on their way home. I hope we can get some more retail in town, because I love the fact that I can do so much of my shopping without leaving my town,” he said.
All four candidates also agreed that the village should step up its road repair program.
“It’s very important for us to speed up road improvements,” Cavender said. “We should be working on keeping the roads up, not completely rebuilding them because they’ve fallen apart while waiting for routine maintenance.”