Why are you running for (want to be on) city council?
This community has provided me with a lot and I believe I have and obligation to give back. My 30 years of government and military experience along with my experience managing a private business for over 25 years and my MBA provide me with a unique set of perspectives on the challenge our community will face in the future. I have spent over 20 years attending, watching and participating in city council and other city committee/board meetings. I see these challenges mainly being the changes in business & retail resulting from the Pandemic and the need to keep our community progressing and staying germane as a family friendly and safe community.
What do you see as the Future of land use in Naperville?
Properties that are not kept up or are vacant for a long time can attract negative attention to our community. We have a lot of property that is in need of a “makeover” to attract new businesses and residents to our community. The developers needed to make this happen will need to be incentivized in someway to make these considerable investments in our community (tax breaks, variances, public/private partnerships, etc). But the greatest and most needed incentive will be the ability to redevelop these properties for higher density use. This is a natural progression in a vibrant, progressive growing community.
Should City Council approve a Mask Mandate Ordinance?
There is not doubt that masks work in remediating the spread of the SAR-CoV-2 virus but they are just one of several means of remediation available. I am sure the intention of this proposed mandate are good, but an ordinance mandating use in public would present many difficulties (if the governor can not enforce closure of indoor dinning how is a city going to enforce the wearing of masks in public?) The reality is the first time someone is ticketed for this offense they will fight it and any competent lawyer would have little trouble convincing a judge the mandate is unconstitutional. The fastest way to get people to stop wearing mask would be to have a judge tell them they don’t have to wear them. The reality is some fights are better not fought.
Should the proposed redevelopment of Market Meadows be approved?
I understand the concerns of residents neighboring this Mall
that have watched its steady decline and increased undesirable activity in the
area. The quickest and surest way to address these concerns is a “reset” or
"refresh” of the area that can only be accomplished by redevelopment.
The challenge in redeveloping this area is the fact that the Pandemic has caused a shift in both the business and retail industries that has resulted in reduced demand for business and retail space. Simply redeveloping this area a “new” retail will not solve any problems if the demand is not there to fill these retail spaces. A half empty mall attracts the same problems whether it is new or old. Successfully redeveloping these areas will require out of the box thinking that re-imagines how this is used.
The proposed redevelopment of Market Meadows to include rental storage spaces is such an out of the box solution that replaces low demand retail space with high demand public storage units. If done correctly this new land use will be a benefit to this area as well as Naperville in general.
What will you do about Naperville’s Traffic problems?
The phrase “Traffic problem" means different things to
different people depending on their situation.
- For the daily commuter it is slow moving peak hour traffic they have to deal with twice a day that turns a 15 minute none rush hour trip in to a 45 minute commute.
- For the parent it is the speeding vehicles going by their homes to avoid the heavy traffic on other streets, shorten their drive route, compulsive speeder, etc.
- For the resident near a arterial or feeder street at night it is the young people on the street revving their engines, doing burn-out and racing.
Each of these requires very different solutions, so there is no one size fits all here. Backed up peak hour traffic is the result of more traffic on the road then it was designed to handle. There are some minor changes, like light time and turn lanes that can be made to incrementally improve traffic flow, but only increasing the capacity of the road will make any significant change, which is not practical for financially and usually jurisdictional reasons. The best solution is to reduce the volume of cars. A good public transportation system would do this.
For local or residential streets the issue involved can be addressed using the city’s Traffic Calming toolkit measures like including bike lanes, prohibiting certain turns, one way streets, etc. Speed bumps are not used by the city because of the many issues they create for city and emergency response workers.
The last case is hardest and is not isolated; it is being reported by neighborhoods from all over Naperville. Young people have been gathering and doing this kind of thing for around 75 years now and law enforcement has not proven to be effective at stopping it. It is not illegal to rev an engine or peel-out, so the only thing enforceable here is the racing. I know that when the police respond to these kinds of complaints in the downtown area these young people just move to another downtown area. Unfortunately having our Police spend their night play hide and seek with these young people is not a productive use of NPD resources. The long history of young people doing this and police ineffectiveness would indicate a need to rethink how to handle this type of situation. I would suggest starting by sending a social worker to these types of complaints to get a better handle on them. It may turn out the best solution is to find a safe place were these young people can gather to engage in these activities safely without disrupt a neighborhood.
Is the proposed 4th and Loomis redevelopment appropriate for this neighborhood?
The proposed redevelopment is a higher density use then the current use. But this area already has a new three story apartment building and the city just approved a much higher density use a few block from these properties with the Heritage Place development. Finally you only need look of the opposite side of the tracks from these properties to see a much large, high density use with the 5th Avenue Station building. So, yes it does seem appropriate. The sound abatement benefits of the new buildings proposed will also be a benefit to resident in the area.
What about Naperville's relationship with IMEA and renewable energy?
There have been concerns expressed about the amount of electricity Naperville gets from Renewable energy compared to Coal. I agree that our community should be doing everything realistically possible to move away from Coal to Environmentally Friendly, Sustainable and Renewable energy.
The Illinois Municipal Eclectic Agency (IMEA), which is a non-profit government organization founded in 1984, provides Naperville’s Electrical Utility with its power. Naperville is one of it founding municipalities and its largest customer.
Last year 46% of the power IMEA delivered to its member municipalities came from Prairie State, 23% from Trimble County and 23% from open market, long term contract with other Coal fueled power plants and 8% comes from renewable source. Comparing this energy profile with Illinois energy profile of 53% nuclear, 42% coal, 9% gas and 6% renewable we can see that IMEA is actually exceeding the state by close to 35% in its renewable energy stock.
Some city council candidates are saying that IMEA is not acting fast enough, that it is doing to little to late. That the future of our children is too important and the city should act now, and break its contract with IMEA, no matter what the financial cost to the city.
First let’s be clear, there is no National Power Grid. All the power we get is from our own regional power grid, dominated by Exelon and half a dozen Coal power generating facilities, with a small but steady growing renewable energy community.
So if we break with IMEA, the city has two choices, go back to purchasing its power directly from Illinois produces which are almost entirely Coal based or switch to ComEd. Going independent will actually increase our use of Coal produced power and would defeat the whole purpose of breaking with IMEA. Switching to ComEd would require the city to sell significant portions of our utility infrastructure to ComEd. This would permanently close the door on Naperville’s energy independence and make us always reliant on ComEd for our electricity. Neither of these choices are, in my opinion, in the long term best interests of our community or its children.
It has been pointed out that one of the Chicagoland municipalities is funding renewable energy development in another state; earning renewable energy credit is used to become 100% renewable. Yes, Naperville could use its prosperity to do this same thing. But it is like the guilty rich person that spares no expense in hiring the best lawyer possible to get them off on a technicality and avoid taking responsibility for there own actions. In fact the Federal Trade Commission has ruled renewable energy credits to be a deceptive practice. Yes, it is legal but it is still a lie.
Perhaps I am being naïve, but I like to believe Naperville is a more ethical and moral a community then to use this kind of trick to achieve renewability. Naperville has won many accolades over the years, but getting too 100% renewable in this way is like buying a trophy. Do were really what to start buying our trophy? I say lets roll up our sleeves and continue to earn our accolades.
So what can Naperville do to up our renewable energy profile? Several things, starting with reviewing our city ordinances to see what changes could be made to make it easier or more practical for residents to install renewable energy asset. The city could look into programs that provide credits or funding to cover the cost of installing renewable energy assets for both the city and its residents. The city could start upgrading its electrical infrastructure to include micro grids that would provide residents a way to share power generated by their renewable assets with their neighbors. These micro grids would also make it possible for the city to start generating some of its own power rather then purchase it all.
What about the 5th Avenue Project?
While the 5th Avenue Project currently seem to be in limbo I believe it is only a matter of time until this project happens. This area’s need for redevelopment is the one thing almost everyone can agree on. The challenge is reaching an agreement on land usage which is now further challenged by the changes in retail and business demand created by the Pandemic. These shifts will require rethinking how best to use this land that will likely include greater residential use and hopeful some out of the box thinking for alternative use for some of this land.
The City should not be accessing my property the same as other properties, why are they?
The assessment of your property is actually done by the Township, specifically the Township Assessor. Naperville is made up of parts from five townships, Naperville, Lisle, Wheatland, DuPage and Milton.
The county actually determines what you property taxes will be depending on the accessed value of your property and the tax levies passed by the government taxing bodies for your property. Naperville is made up of parts of two counties, Dupage and Will.
The city only controls the levy, which for Naperville's 2021 budget is around $55 millions. The city’s targeted property tax rate for the last couple of years has been 0.6870. Your actual rate maybe higher or lower depends on what if any adjustments were applied. For most Naperville property owners this is around 10% of their property tax bill.
So city council members can do nothing about your property assessment, its amount or how it is determined. That is totally controlled by your township accessor and any appeals are heard and reviewed by the county.
Should Naperville approve the Nokia Residental development (PUD)?
This 67 acre lot with its proposed 240 residential units would be the larges residential PUD on the North side of Naperville in years. It has the potential of adding 1% to the city’s residential property tax base. This property should be incorporated and granted the zoning needed to make development possible. I know some people in the area have gotten use to using this land as they pleased but they do not have a right to access this land and showing their appreciation to the current owner by trying to stop development is not what I would call a neighborly thank you.