On May 15th, a large gathering of Bolingbrook residents led by Terri Ransom, former candidate for Village of Bolingbrook Trustee, had come together to discuss issues that were important to their communities. Topics that had been discussed ranged from the economic viability of the village to sustainability and infrastructure, among others.
On June 25th, Jackie Traynere, current Will County Board Member and former candidate for Mayor of Bolingbrook, had delivered that list of concerns to the Mayor and Village Trustees during the public comments section at the village board meeting.
As Ms. Traynere had provided her comments during the allotted window of opportunity. The Mayor and other elected officials appeared to be disinterested as she had relayed the Bolingbrook citizens concerns. The Mayor had interrupted the speaker during her comments indicating she was running out of time. Though it should be noted, that other constituents have been allowed to go past the 4-minute allotment.
One participant of the Memo to the Mayor event noted, that they had originally hoped to attend the Bolingbrook 2040 event held by Village of Bolingbrook Trustee Michael Carpanzano. However, they were told they must first go through a screening process before they would be allowed to attend and provide their ideas on the future of Bolingbrook. After they met the conditions they were still denied entry.
The full letter provided by the citizens is listed below.
June 18, 2019
To the Village of Bolingbrook:
On May 15, 2019, a group of Bolingbrook residents gathered together in the spirit of the Chicago Community Trust for an event called “On the Table, Memo to the Mayor” to discuss issues of concern and potential solutions in group format. Our four topics were Finance and Economic Development, Education, Sustainability and Infrastructure, and Social Justice and Inclusion. This document outlines the outcome of our discussions.
Finance and Economic Development
Long Term Growth
- Improve public transportation within the village by establishing a local public-transit system (vans, buses, trolley, etc.), increase parking for Park and Ride, and work with the RTA to re-establish an express bus to the Lisle/Romeoville/Naperville train stations
Residents in the Village’s Economic Health
- Establish a monthly village email newsletter announcing zoning changes, village expenses, village resources, etc. and raise community awareness of economic conditions (village/county gross product, municipal debt, etc.)
Sustainability and Infrastructure
- A Safer,
More Connected Community
- Create more dedicated bike paths so residents can safely bike to work; ensure sidewalks in every neighborhood of Bolingbrook; repair old sidewalks that are in disrepair; provide neighborhood watch education; and create additional senior services offered locally.
- A Cleaner, Greener Bolingbrook
- Invest in and install solar and wind power to offset energy costs for the Village Hall and its residents; move the village fleet (except police and fire) to clean fuel-hybrid vehicles; and install EV charging stations throughout the community (or at least at Village Hall) so we can promote a clean energy future. This is an economic driver resulting in a cost savings for the Village and there are public grants at all levels that could be considered to help offset first costs.
Social Justice and Inclusion
Resources for Needed Community Services
- Establish an info desk where residents can go for help and guidance in multiple languages for local counseling, housing services, family support, financial literacy, immigration support, battered women, healthcare services like the VNA and the Will County Health Department, food pantries, and homelessness. Expand after-school programs beyond the church-based which are not an option for all families and make them educational and fun.
- Offer a food pantry at the high school.
Employment Opportunities in Bolingbrook
- Impose a moratorium on temporary work agencies in the Village and stop issuing business licenses to them like Joliet has. Residents need permanent jobs with benefits that support their Bolingbrook families.
- Missing Opportunities
- Contact local colleges to open satellite campuses in Bolingbrook to broaden opportunities to residents to obtain degrees, certifications, or continuing education in the areas of the trades, STEM, business, education, and more (JJC, Lewis, North Central, trade school, etc.). This could improve the vacant store situation.
The above is a snapshot of the issues identified as priorities by the “On the Table” attendees and serves as a collective voice from the community. Attached is a complete list of the items discussed at our forum that we request Village action on. Our expectation is that this document will be looked upon as a call-to-action to our elected officials and community leaders.
Jim Bastounes, Tom Braxton, Norman Brown, Araceli Canty, Tracye Carson, Elizabeth Cervantes, Elalyn Costa, Diane Donnelly, Larry Fox, Otis Gatlin, Ken Harris, Bob Jaskiewicz, Terry Jay, Stan Krz, Deneen Lenoir, Ginny Lyons, Gary Marschke, Lori Marschke, Conrad Martinez, Genevieve Mazzeo, Donna Niven, Michael Ransom, Terri Ransom, Joanne Rodriguez, Debi Savage, Jackie Traynere, and Marcus Wright,
cc: Roger Claar, Michael Lawler, Bob Jaskiewicz, Sheldon Watts, Mary Alexander-Basta, Michael Carpenzano, Maria Zarate
Full List of Topics from 5/15/19
Warehouses and the Impact of Trucks in the Village
- Place a moratorium on warehouses and create standards around the development of what is in progress (and what is in place) to include solar, wind, and storm water implementations to offset the ecosystem they are displacing. These requirements are a benefit to the entire community as well as an economic driver.
- Impose stricter regulations or “use taxes” on the increased traffic that passes through Bolingbrook as a result of the warehouse commerce. The goods are passing through but are not directly benefitting our community. Requiring the owners of these facilities to pay a “surcharge” per transaction or truck (whatever is appropriate) would allow the Village to reallocate the funding to upgrade roads that are being deteriorated due to the increased congestion. These recommendations are related to the safety or our residents as well as the infrastructure needs.
- Develop an outward program, with more signage, to indicate what the dedicated truck routes are. What are the hours that trucks are allowed to use surface streets in Bolingbrook? Can we charge a “use” tax for trucks to use our streets?
Economic Development Opportunities/Long-Term Growth
- The development of a Village supported incubator to help our local residents as they launch startups and create innovations. The Village could help leverage its relationship with the local businesses and HQ’s here and utilize some of the vacant retail and warehouse locations as a home for this think tank. It would inspire residents to keep and headquarter their business locally as opposed to taking them out of Bolingbrook, Will County or Illinois. There are investment funds through the State of Illinois that could likely be discussed.
- Updated standards for future development of residential and commercial locations to include better management of sump pumps, storm water, grading, and sustainability measures. These standards add to the economic value of our community as well as lend to a more secure and resilient Bolingbrook.
- A green infrastructure/landscape education program for all residents that talks about how to care for the Village trees. Or have the village be more diligent in caring for landscaping elements in the parkways. Currently under-maintained trees and vegetation are creating a hazard for our community. It would actually cost less for the Village to maintain these than to have to replace annually due to neglect.
- Better promotion of rooftop solar for residents, along with the availability of grants and an education on the long-term financial savings for homeowners.
- Work with and through HOA’s in Bolingbrook to discuss all the environmental and resilient solutions—green landscaping and lawn care, storm water management and flood control, solar and wind power opportunities, and recycling.
- Attract high-tech industries
- Encourage local industry to give Bolingbrook residents first priority in hiring when qualified; provide incentives to hire from within the community; host a career fair for area businesses to recruit at.
- Encourage small businesses, especially minority and women owned
- Reestablish an economic development commission
- Establish education-business partnerships
- Repurpose/rezone vacant retail space
- Establish conference space/conference center tied to commercial development (repurpose Bolingbrook Golf Club or part of it)
- Attract a museum/reference center (such as the George Lucas museum in LA)
- Encourage disabled-based businesses
- Encourage more attractive office space
- Work with local businesses to set up an ongoing employer-recruitment program or job board
- Establish high school internship programs with local businesses
- Attract higher-wage jobs – higher tech, fewer temp agency jobs
- Encourage businesses to give back to the community (park land, education programs, etc.)
- Encourage meaningful growth (less retail, more sustainable industries)
- Encourage new affordable housing developments especially townhomes for seniors and single parent homes. Taxes are high and there is not enough affordable housing in Bolingbrook.
- Address long-term debt
- Privatize Clow Airport and the Bolingbrook Golf Club
- Invoke a moratorium on new municipal bonds
- Sell the village’s money-losing assets
- Reduce the number of paid commissions
Community Engagement/Keeping the Residents Informed
- Engage residents on the how and who makes TIF and tax abatement decisions. The information is not well known and difficult to find. Residents would like to be a greater part of this discussion.
- We need a community-wide program to educate on recycling as well as to see the Village lead on recycling efforts. Too much of what people perceive as recyclable is actually not. We could secure a grant or sponsorship to develop and publicize an educational piece…not just on the Village website. And we could host a session or series of sessions on how and what to recycle. Perhaps Groot would like to do this as a good business partner to all the community?
- An education and day of action around what and what not to pour down storm sewers. The Conservation Foundation has free sessions and materials to aid in community outreach.
- Encourage active community participation and community awareness
- Actively encourage new ideas and be open to them
- Appoint people fairly to the Village Commissions no matter their political party
- Raise awareness of the Village’s economic conditions (village/county gross product, municipal debt, etc.)
- Create clearer notice information on zoning and development matters with options for residents on how to be notified
- Add Village notices to the electronic message boards and the Bolingbrook app
- Provide senior and other village resources in multiple languages
- Establish longer hours at the Village offices to accommodate working residents
- Provide broader and user-friendly access to the return on tax revenue
- Allow and encourage a local newspaper be started for Bolingbrook
- Develop more community gardens within the subdivision-based parks. It will promote greater engagement, as the gardens will be closer to residents. Develop a shared resource on this where homeowners might pay a little more but the park district works to maintain it as a result.
- Develop localized “spray-splash” areas at the parks in the community as opposed to just one centralized pool.
- Develop a dog park or two within Bolingbrook.
- Work toward bipartisan solutions to meet the Village’s needs. Both parties need to set aside their differences and work toward solutions that support our diverse, working class community.
- Our most vulnerable residents need to be given space to share their voice and concerns and be offered a seat at the table to be part of our community’s solutions.
- Separate the Chief of Police and Chief of Fire jobs from Public Safety
- Evaluate the makeup of the police force to work to ensure it mirrors the racial makeup of the community when hiring is done.
- Expand career fairs at all school levels to expose students to different careers. Multilingual volunteers are needed to meet diverse student needs.
- Develop higher standards for teachers to meet in teaching children
- School Board and Superintendent need to ensure and verify that children are earning their promotion to the next grade
- Establish a mentor program for students
- Review your Special Education Program; compare to what District 202’s program looks like
- More actively promote the mental health of students and teachers
- Review the current curriculum to ensure it is current and evidence-based
- Review teacher compensation as a whole and increase the way of the teachers
- Improve SAT/ACT Prep classes
- Survey parents/community or hold a town hall on how to improve communication with parents and teachers
- School Board needs to review the class sizes as those being reported at 15 to 1 are not accurate
New Revenue Sources
- Work with state legislators to recover more sales tax revenue for the Village
- Minimize tax breaks for relocating large businesses
- Collect online sales tax revenue from the state
- Rationalize the new garbage fees (block-sharing, etc.)
- Sell permits to allow overnight curbside parking
- Expand online payments on the Village’s website beyond parking tickets to include online taxes and fee payments
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