DP History: Where I Stand


instead of responding to my email.

Friends of History,

If you are reading this note it’s because you’ve taken an interest in the Des Plaines Historical Society, a rich and vibrant community partner that continues to entertain, teach, and enrich us.  As a brief aside, I’m currently sitting in a local coffee shop sipping on a cup of joe…reminded of those days spent with my nose in the books.  As an undergrad at Northwestern, I called the Des Plaines Historical Society interested in learning more about our history with a focus on transportation.  I’m sure I can dig up that term paper somewhere, but I dropped into the History Center on a rainy Saturday afternoon expecting to make a few copies of primary sources…in and out.  Little did I know that my interest would be peaked, and the rest of my day would be spent learning about a Des Plaines beyond the transportation centers that gave birth to one of the first in a sprawl of suburbs on Chicago’s Northwest Side.  Joy Matthiessen will tell you how I took a liking to the expansive picture of The Villas neighborhood – in the heart of Des Plaines – and those post-war families that were first to inhabit them.  Today, I own a home at 990 W Villa and that aerial photo of The Villas hangs prominently in my kitchen.  I’m a friend of the Historical Society who has put his time where his mouth is…organizing a successful (and delicious) chocolate tasting fundraiser at the History Center that helped with that ever-important bottom line.  I’m not an enemy.

As an elected official in the City of Des Plaines, I have a responsibility to many.  Taxpayers don’t want to pay anymore.  Employees want to keep their jobs.  School Children want to continue attending Historical Society programming.  You want us to continue funding the Historical Society.  It’s easy to imagine how – in any final scenario – atleast one of these constituent elements will be disappointed.     

Last Thursday, the City Council voted to reduce the overall staffing of the City by 10%.  That’s 7 positions that became vacant since last budget (and were never filled due to the sagging economy) and 30 families who will be forced to grin and bear it.  What does a 10% reduction mean? That includes the reduction of one entire ambulance from active service, the balance of Police traffic enforcement unit, a canine officer, almost the entire Health and Human Services department, half of the City’s Legal department, and many many many more.  I hope this description paints a backdrop against which to consider your request of continued funding for the History Center.

Since 1994, the City has increased it’s funding of the Historical Society by 200%....presently at $166,000.  We are considering a 3% tax increase in order to cover the police and fire pensions that are increasing at a rate greater than 20 & 30% respectively.  For every 1% increase, the City will garner an extra $220,000.  So, we have a decision to make. If we want to fund the Historical Society we have to do one of the following:

  1. Raise taxes ~1% (to a 4% total increase over last year’s levy amount).
  2. Cut two more employees from the City payroll (38 total).
  3. Tap into the City’s reserve fund that, at present, would not be able to withstand a 10-year flood without having to take a short-term (high interest) loan.

The Historical Society was asked to present the Council with a plan to move away from City-dependence, and a rough sketch of a plan received a mixed reception.   This Thursday the Council will reach a resolution on the issue.

Where do I stand?  The City should not pull the rug out from under this institution.  Doing so would run counter to the Council’s goal of creating and maintaining a great place to live, work, and play.  At the same time, a $166,000 subsidy is not appropriate given these economic times.  The Historical Society needs to make note of the City’s sacrifices, and consider making a number of their own.  I support a multi-year step down approach with the end goal being a Historical Society that is totally independent of City funding.  I will not give you a flippant response, a pie-in-the-sky-number, or a promise.  Instead, I’ll continue to approach this issue in a thoughtful way knowing that somewhere between one and all of you will be disappointed regardless of the final conclusion.

Thanks for your continued interest and love for our City and our Historical Society.  Check for future budget updates.


Matt Bogusz
3rd Ward Alderman
Des Plaines, Illinois 


Sysco Noise Complaints - 09/12/09

Here is an email from our Economic Development Director regarding a proposed solution to the problem.  This proposal comes directly from Sysco management and I've indicated to City Staff that I wanted your feedback before pulling the trigger.

After reading the email and viewing the PDF, please POST YOUR THOUGHTS HERE. City Staff will review the comments that you post HERE and we will go from there.

Email from Mike Conlon, 9/11/09

"Sysco is proposing to create the vegetative barrier for sound absorption along the property within the Com-Ed easement  -  this is the best location for such a screen.  They are proposing a planting of 16 trees of significant size (no 2' Menard's pot plants) of a species mix to be determined by the City - we will probably recommend a mix of Colorado Spruce and Black Pine - the latter has bushier growth but eventually loses lower limbs - we will rely on the City's arborist for a recommendation.  This barrier will become more effective each year as the trees grow and fill in the spacing between.

The attachment contains four graphic images: (1) a rather blue aerial photo of the Sysco / Orchard Court area showing the proposed planting area outlined in red; (2) a sketch of the proposed tree alignment, showing the Com-Ed transmission towers that will always be in the way; (3) proposed species - Colorado Spruce; and (4) proposed species -Austrian Black Pine. View the attachment HERE."

After reading Mike's email and viewing the PDF, post your thoughts HERE.


Sysco Noise Complaints - 07/14/09

Email recieved 08/19/09


This is a follow-up to our conversation Monday night regarding progress on a sound barrier at Sysco. As I mentioned, we met with Sysco representatives twice last week, including a meeting with the architect / planner consultant who designed the landscape buffers around the western portions of the Sysco site. We discussed the need for a vegetative sound buffer at the point in closest proximity to the cul-de-sac, essentially from the Innovation Drive curbcut south to the base of the first ComEd tower. A planted barrier provides the most sound absorption and becomes more effective each year. The consultant, Dalip Bammi, sent me this e-mail as a result of our meeting last week:

“ … As I stated, I did discuss your thoughts in addressing the noise issue with Sysco officials yesterday. We are in the process of identifying the location, species and costof tree planting in the suggested area. I will call you, when I return to office onSeptember 1,to share our landscaping concept to assure it meets with your approval.”

As we discussed, physical improvements at Sysco have to be approved from the corporate offices in Texas, but this is being sought. I will let you know as soon as we get a response on the landscaping plan.

Mike Conlon
Community Development Director



Sysco Noise Complaints - 07/14/09


Below is an email recieved from the City's Director of Economic Development regarding the Sysco noise complaints.

Email recieved 07/13/09

Alderman –

As we discussed at last Wednesday’s Ward meeting, the Department of Community & Economic Development had three ‘homework assignments’ to work on as a result of resident issues regarding Sysco Chicago’s operation on Wieboldt Drive:

1). Check the functioning of the water detention pond on the Sysco property;

2) Have noise and light levels tested by a certified testing agency; and

3) Review Sysco’s site plan to determine whether additional sound buffering can be provided.

At Wednesday night’s meeting, I reported the following:

1). The City’s Building Division performed an onsite inspection of the water detention pond on June 15th and found that it was NOT functioning properly. The detention pond is supposed to be a dry system, and the ponding present means that it is not functioning properly; this fact was confirmed by the City Engineering Department. As a result, the Building Inspector contacted Mike Llewellyn, a representative of FCL, the company that constructed the pond, and informed him that the pond must be re-engineered to drain property. Mr. Llewellyn stated that the company would begin this work immediately.

2). This department contracted with a professional engineering firm to conduct noise and light studies at the Sysco site. Testing was done on June 22nd and on June 26th, with the results received about a week ago. According to the certified results, neither the noise nor the light effects reached significant levels: the conclusion reached was that, although “somewhat elevated” immediately adjacent to the distribution facility, the “noise is dissipated to such an extent that it is not loud enough to affect adjacent residential areas”. The same conclusion was reached for light levels.

This is actually good news for the residents - it does not mean that there is not an issue with noise, particularly around the Orchard Court cul-de-sac – but rather that the noise levels do not reach health hazard levels and that prolonged exposure will not be harmful. This means that the noise levels constitute a nuisance; one that can be addressed.

3). In this regard, Building Official Mike Spiel and I met with Sysco representatives on Wednesday, July 8th. We met to discuss potential improvements that Sysco could make to improve the sound-deadening capacity of the site. Among the representatives in the meeting were Tom Raimer, Director of Facilities and Bill O’Mara, Vice President of Operations for Sysco. We analyzed the site plan and aerial photography of the neighborhood to determine options. There have been no noise complaints from the neighborhood north of Sysco on Washington Street due, we believe, to the solid, 9’ sound fence and vegetation along this perimeter. On the south, however, where Orchard Court is 550’ from the new Sysco building, there is only a chain-link fence around the property. We asked the Sysco representatives if they would consider erecting a sound barrier fence similar to that on the north side, not because the City could compel it, but as the gesture of a good neighbor. The response from both Tom Raimer and Bill O’Mara was positive, and they agreed to pass the request up to corporate authorities right away. We are working with Sysco to determine where such a fence could go, as there is an issue with the placement of the ComEd power transmission lines that run between Sysco and the railroad tracks.

I believe that this is a very promising response to this neighborhood issue, and I will keep you posted on specific progress items with Sysco.

Mike Conlan