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Downtown Development, Pension Reform Questions Raised at Public Meeting

Dozens of residents gathered Monday night to talk with Buffalo Grove Village President Jeff Braiman, Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman and State Rep. Sid Mathias (R-53rd).

The proposed downtown Buffalo Grove was the focus of the conversation at a by three elected officials who live in the village.

Village President Jeff Braiman, Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman and State Rep. Sid Mathias delivered updates from their respective offices and fielded questions from the crowd.

Of the 50 or so citizens who gathered in the Community Services building, 13 had the chance to ask questions about matters facing the community. Six of those questions pertained to a developer’s proposal to convert the and municipal campus into .

Citizens asked Braiman questions and voiced concerns about traffic congestion, the housing market and the viability of the center when the nearby Town Center is struggling. 

Braiman said the village has limited control over Town Center, which is private property at the northwest corner of Lake-Cook and McHenry roads. The proposed downtown would stretch along Lake-Cook Road on land currently owned by the village.

Lake-Cook Road, Stolman said, is traveled by 103,000 cars each day.

“It’s very, very exciting. It’s not a done deal. There are a lot of issues, there are a lot of questions,” Braiman said, referring to zoning, flood control and funding matters that would need to be ironed out before the development could proceed.

Debbie Benjamin, owner of the in the Town Center, said the village is “not very business friendly” which is why there are empty storefronts. She suggested that the village invest in revitalizing the Town Center rather than build a downtown. The developer’s proposal includes a new movie theater on the golf course property.

“A lot of them are the same businesses” that the village already has, Benjamin said.

“We don’t know what’s going to be filled in there. We don’t even know that it’s going to be built,” Braiman responded. A series of Plan Commission meetings and public hearings would take place first, he said.

Braiman added that he has received positive feedback about the downtown proposal from people he’s talked to around town. “People seem to be thrilled about it,” he said.

Pension reform, water

Meanwhile, Mathias fielded questions about pension reform and local water issues. 

A retired educator and a current teacher both posed questions about how pension reform would impact their retirement income. The state is facing an $85 billion shortfall in its public pension funds, which include teacher retirement. 

The General Assembly will reconvene Friday, and Mathias said he’s not expecting legislators to arrive at an immediate solution.

“As far as what’s going to happen, I don’t think anything’s going to happen this week,” he said. “There’s a lot of proposals out there, but no one has been able to say, ‘Let’s put all the good ideas together.’” 

“To say, ‘Let’s put it on the local homeowners’ when taxes are so high already, I don’t think that’s the solution,” he added.

Another citizen, who later identified himself on Patch as Stuart Tindall, asked Mathias to weigh in on Buffalo Grove’s “water issues.”

Related story: 

“I’m not sure there is an issue with the water in Buffalo Grove,” Mathias said.

“There isn’t,” Tindall responded.

“I agree with you,” Mathias said.

Lake County update

No questions were lobbed directly at Stolman, but like the other panelists, he had the opportunity to speak about issues within his jurisdiction. The Lake County Board chairman took the opportunity to praise his government’s balanced budget, low operating costs and open communication methods, which include an informative website and live traffic updates on Lake County Passage.

He also acknowledged the at Libertyville’s Motorola Mobility. “I feel bad that there will be so many affected people,” he said. “My heart goes out. Everybody’s suffering.”

RELENTLESSCRITIC August 14, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Just as I anticipated weeks ago- Mathias took the evasive route and tried to give vague non-answers. I'm glad Stuart pushed to get a bit of the truth out of him. Here's a hint, Rep. Mathias- when residents ask you where you stand on an issue that concerns our (and YOUR) community, "Silence doesn’t equate to approval of ideas,” is not an accepetable response. Claiming to be unaware of the recent controversy about water quality is also not acceptable. You couldn't even give a straight answer on BG's water quality- Stuart had to pull it out of you. YOU actively endorsed Stone when she ran for trustee, which means YOU recommended that BG voters elect her. She failed epically and continues to waste taxpayer money and disrupt village business, and you hid. At least Stollman and Rubin had the guts to admit that they were wrong for supporting her- you said nothing because you're afraid of her. Since you endorsed Stone and remained silent during her dysfunctional tenure as a trustee and recently as a "Community Watchdog", we must assume that you agree with and condone her lousy behavior. Otherwise, you'd have said something about it. Therefore, YOUR SILENCE EQUATES TO TACIT APPROVAL. I've voted for you many times in the past, but Sente will get my vote this time. You've proved to be a gutless weasel. You'll have plenty of time to hang around with your good pal Lisa when you get sent home in November. Maybe she'll let you join her little coalition.
Patrick Madigan August 14, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I agree with Ms Benjamin, the town center has been around for some 15 years, and business come and go, the only major tennant is Eskape - a bowling alley with a nice resturant. If the village wasn't able to attract a major tennant when the economy was booming, how is it that many of the same trustees think a new set of building will attract a major tennant? Did the former Village Business manager leave a sinking ship, as did his associate did in the past couple of weeks? Or what do they know that isn't being released? Why wasn't Carol Sente invited? Since alot of BG is in the 59th dist. or was this Mr. Stolman attempt to get Sid's name back in front of people who have not had any contact with him is many years, and now Sid is running against a very sharp Ms Sente. Sorry Sid it looks like you were not prepared for the water question, and your backing of Ms Stone also showed you didn't do your homework. I agree with Relentlesscritic and Carol Sente gets my vote too.
RELENTLESSCRITIC August 14, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Some good comments about the downtown development and Town Center. They represent separate, but related challenges with attracting high quality tenants. I am not yet in favor of the downtown project- haven't seen enough information that convinces me that it makes sense. But I'm staying open minded about it. I think that the village board would make things easier on themselves and potentially find a lot more receptiivity and support for the downtown project if they first figured out the best recipe for supporting the revitalization of the TC. I realize that there are a ton of issues related to the ownership of that property, but I doubt they'll get much support for the downtown unless a solid plan is in place for the TC. A viable solution for the TC has thusfar been elusive, but they are smart creative people and they need to figure it out in partnership with the owners of the property. That should be the priority for staff right now- not the downtown development Put first things first, even if it takes a long time. Once the TC is no longer viewed as a white elephant, residents will be able to take a much more objective and less emotional position on a potential downtown project. Until then, it will remain a huge distraction and impediment- and a potential deal killer for the downtown project of it isn't resolved.
A Dog Lover August 14, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I also remember when the Town Center was built. In the beginning, the then board onlt wanted "high end" restaurants and businesses there. In fact Chili's restaurant wanted to go into the center but the village board felt it wan not enough "high end" for BG!!! They have angered alot of businesses so now no one wants to go into the center!!! I think that the only business that is original is Giordano's Pizza!! Will they do this to the so called downtown area??!! Probably!!! I'm not a fan!! As far as Sid Mathias goes--I'm also voting for Sente!!!
RELENTLESSCRITIC August 14, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Dog Lover- there's way more to the story. The challenges of attracting businesses and restaurants to ANY development go far beyond the board's approval. There have actually been several restaurants in the town center- fast service, moderate, and even high end. The reasons they survive or fail have very little, if anything to do with the board's actions. Your concerns are very valid, but the issues around the town center are far more complex than you're portraying them. I am hopeful that this is going to stimulate a lot of residents to become more inmformed on how our local government really operates, so they don't have to get their information second-hand from people who have hidden agendas and personal axes to grind.
Erica Williams August 14, 2012 at 07:55 PM
How about building on the landfill? Isn't that what the board wanted to do in the first place?
Ellie August 15, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Who really wants a "downtown" (besides the developer)? Many of us fled Chicago for the quiet, the safety, and open spaces of the suburbs. So now Mr. Braiman and Trustees want to bring Chicago here! I live in south Buffalo Grove. Why are you paving over OUR golf course and and park space. Why not "pave over" and "develop" the Aboretum golf course, or Busch Grove Community Park? How would YOU like all those people in the proposed 10- and 8- story buildings peering down into your family's back yard? How many zoning principle have to be violated? Maybe the public employees should be making more sacrifices- just like private sector employees in these hard times.
A Dog Lover August 15, 2012 at 04:10 AM
RELENTLESSCRITIC-- You totally missunderstood what I was saying!!! Since you don't get it, I'm not going to go over it again. You assume I'm an idiot and don't understand how thing work. Don't be so quick to think You know it all!!
Peter Noonan August 15, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Who really wants a "downtown" (besides the developer)? Me... I want one!!! Are you for real Ellie? You are going to compare a suburban "downtown" to Chicago? Yeah, when I go to Naperville, Arlington Heights or Des plaines, or any suburban town with a "downtown" I think of Chicago...NOT! Finally...something around here other than a rundown stripmall! People want to know why Town Center is half empty? It's an ugly dump that no recognizable chain store would go into. Ellie, you sound like someone who is over the age of 70 and has probably lived here forever. My guess is your house is probably paid off or at least your not upside down on it. You should probably sell now and get out of BG before it turns into a town where people will actually want to come to. Or, you can wait until the downtown gets built and sell when your "southside" property value goes up because your in such close proximity to the downtown.
Stuart Tindall August 15, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Dude, that was harsh. Way to be a jerk.
Paul Kozem August 15, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Ellie sounds pretty rational to me, you must have a relative in the developers family to make such crazy statements. Leave Golf course alone and help fix up town center that the brilliant minds screwed up at conception .
C-Dub August 15, 2012 at 05:57 PM
All I have to say about Town Center is, if you polish a turd.....well, it is still a turd! TC will never amount to much, not easy to get in and out, it is an oversized strip mall that is a one shop stop. People will not go there for the main purpose of spending time walking up and down, even if it was full of shops. Give the downtown area a chance, it is still in it conceptual stage, so there will be tons of changes. Heck they may even make room for an executive par 3 course, which would suit me just fine.
Lori Gayhart August 18, 2012 at 08:02 PM
I am quite concerned regarding the building of yet another retail development. Wheeling has approved the same for the area of where Wickes Furniture used to be. less than 2 miles away they want to build more retail shops and condos. What about the current empty storefronts in BG Town Center? What about the empty space along the vacant Car dealerships on Dundee? Lae Cook Road is already a disaster during rush hour. Concerns about the current economy and the possibility of yet more uninhabited property? The area does not need 2 major retail areas. With larger retail space comes more crime and will the current BG police department be able to handle the increase traffic, crime and business? ALso a concern with the housing subdivision across the street. THere will be more traffic and Raupp Blvd will become more of a parking lot and thorough fare than it already is. BAD IDEA--- You see money, the community sees crime and unecessary ideas.

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