State of the Village: Oswego Taking ‘Bold, Balanced Approach’ to Growth
Feb 10, 2016 06:57AM
● By Shannon Antinori
Oswego Village President Gail Johnson delivers the State of the Village address to a packed Village Board room Monday. (Photo courtesy the village of Oswego Facebook page)
Oswego Village President Gail Johnson is looking ahead — and the village is planning far into the future, she said during her first-ever State of the Village address on Monday.
Johnson addressed village board members, staff and community members, taking stock of 2015 and previewing what’s to come in 2016.
"When I took office on May 5th of 2015, nine months ago, Oswego was at a crossroads,” Johnson said, adding there were two possible paths for the village’s future: ceasing to grow, or growth that would reach the village’s maximum buildout.
“We are carving out a path in the middle to combine the best of both options,” Johnson said, adding the comprehensive plan the village board adopted in August “balances healthy economic growth with stewardship of nature” in a “bold, balanced approach.”
Part of that balance includes keeping the southern boundary of Oswego clear of development and defying urban sprawl, Johnson said.
Johnson touted efforts to attract new businesses and retain existing ones, citing a 5 percent increase in sales tax revenue — which came with a matching 5 percent reduction in the property tax rate, she said.
“People from throughout the region are spending money in Oswego,” Johnson said.
Johnson took a look back at developments and achievements for 2015. Some highlights:
- Oswego police’s partnership with the Kendall County Sheriff’s Department, Yorkville police and Illinois State Police to create the Kendall County Criminal Intelligence Team (CIT), which focuses on gun-, gang- and drug-related crimes. Since May 2015, the CIT has made 90 arrests and had more than 100 gang contacts, helping to create a database for ongoing and future investigations, Johnson said.
- A partnership with Montgomery and Yorkville for a study to analyze the feasibility, cost and potential location of a shared water treatment plant along the Fox River.
- Forty-nine new businesses, including new restaurants Lou Malnati’s, Salsa Verde and Tuscan Tavern.
- Oswego was ranked the 14th best place in Illinois for families by WalletHub.
2016 and beyond
Some developments Johnson said she expects to see in 2016 and the years to come:
- New efforts to improve communication with residents, including a community-wide survey and several “community conversations” scheduled throughout the year, as well as the addition of OpenGov software to boost transparency by allowing residents to access village financial data online.
- Implementation of a downtown TIF district to promote redevelopment within the first half of 2016.
- Continued work to promote development along the village’s riverfront, targeting areas including the former Alexander lumberyard and old village hall site.
- Development on Washington Street from Madison Street to Route 31.
- The expansion of the Kendall 10 movie theater.
- The opening of numerous new businesses, including Andy’s Frozen Custard, Next Door Self Storage, Five Below and Sages Meat Market.
- A partnership with the Conservation Foundation to become the first community outside of DuPage County to take part in the “Conservation in Our Community” program.
- Planning for a new police facility that could serve the community for the next 50 yeaers.
- Moving forward with already-funded studies on bringing Metra service to Kendall County.
- Working to partner with Oswego Township, Kendall County, Will County and the City of Aurora on a projected 15-year, $50 million plan to widen Wolf’s Crossing Road as part of a regional project.
Johnson stressed to residents the importance of getting involved with the village.
“We need you,” Johnson said. “We need you to let us know what’s going on in the community … Tell us how we’re doing and what we could do better.”