Welcome to 3rdWard.org, a website dedicated to communication and transparency between Des Plaines City Government and you. This website, maintained by 3rd Ward Alderman Denise Rodd, is designed to keep neighbors engaged in their community and informed about issues.

Saturday
Aug152009

Class J, 4AM Liquor Licenses

On Monday evening the Council will discuss the Class J Liquor License Category.  In other words, we are going to talk about 4am bars and whether our policy on them needs to change.  Today there are five establishments with Class J Licenses:

Rand Road House
River Rand Bowl
Chiava
Manzo's
Miner Street Tavern

Aldermen Robinson (Chair), Brookman, and Wilson -- members of the legal and licensing committee -- voted 2 to 1, to recommend to the full City Council that the Class J Licenses not be changed, but that further applications be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Where do I stand?
If you've been watching our first few meetings, you'll notice I'm not a fan of the City imposing it's wishes on local business owners.  The City should serve as a partner, promoting an environment where business can succeed.  Further, it really isn't our place to make decisions (a restaurant name change, or a decision to keep/upgrade a sign for instance) on behalf of a local business. Then we have liquor licenses.  The Council is asked to make subjective decisions on what businesses get a liscense and which ones go without.  So, it goes without saying that this discussion is not a natural one for me, considering my usual "business-minded" tendencies. 

I am pro-business and opposed to 4am licenses.  You'll hear more from me on the topic after I get a chance to discuss it with the other council members on Monday. Until then, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Please post HERE before Monday so I can share your thoughts with my colleagues.

 

Saturday
Aug152009

Ward Meeting Minutes

Denise Rodd, writer and 3rd Ward Resident, has been kind enough to take minutes for the past two ward meetings.  Let's hope she continues to volunteer her services so those who can't make it out can stay current on the issues of the day.  You can find the minutes HERE or by clicking the "Meeting Minutes" button to the right. THANKS DENISE!!!

Sunday
Jul122009

Bike Network Meeting - 07/15/09

This Wednesday at 5:30pm, the City's Engineering Committee will host an informal Bike Network Open House to collect input from residents on the proposed network. Here is a Daily Herald article written about this event: DAILY HERALD

You can also read my earlier post on the subject which includes detailed maps. EALIER POST

Monday
Jul062009

City Council Meeting – 07/06/09

What do a coffee shop, Christmas lights, omelets, and a large garage have in common? They all were points of contention in tonight’s council meeting.

Eighteen coffee shops and restaurants around town were asked to present proposals to occupy the downtown Metra station coffee shop. Only one gave a complete proposal…the owner of “Brasserie” (the old Quiznos) in Library Plaza will run the shop during the morning commute, 6am-9:30am.

Potter road is being resurfaced and new signals are to be installed. Alderman Brookman asked if the new signals will be complete with an “opticon” and I just know I wasn’t the only one in the room that had no clue what that was. As it turns out, the “opticon” is the light gun that allows first responders to change traffic lights green. So yes, Potter Road will be equipped with light preemption devices like this…

There was conversation on the amount of money being spent on the City’s Christmas decorations. Aldermen sent the signal that they wanted city staff to scrutinize the decoration plan and bring the project in under budget.

The City’s Finance Director discussed the importance of building the City’s reserve fund and the large burden Police and Fire pensions place on our municipal budget. Here is an article that outlines the issue well:
Link to Daily Herald Article on Pensions

A long discussion arose over a new proposal to allow the City to fund the rehabilitation of historic signs in total. Unlike past façade rehab programs, this proposal provides an opportunity for the city to fund 100% of a rehab project (instead of contributing along with the store owner) and then the City becomes the owner of the sign. This option was billed as a way to save our history and maintain the character of downtown.

Let me be the first to say that I am absolutely in favor of preserving our history. That said I firmly believe that the City should not be in the business of business. In other words, the taxpayer should not be burdened with repairing a historic sign for a private business owner. Under this proposal, we would become liable for upkeep, and if the restaurant changes hands and it becomes a shoe store tomorrow, we would have to find a way to deal with the sign. We can protect our heritage without investing public dollars in private businesses.

I want to hear what you think.
Visit The Discussion and let's talk about it.

The final topic for discussion was a 3rd Ward garage that was built outside the scope of the City’s permit. After the permit was exceeded, the owner applied for a variance that was denied unanimously by the zoning board of appeals. He appealed the decision to the council who also denied the variance unanimously. I asked the council to reconsider the topic because the gentleman was not informed of the initial meeting. Tonight, the council upheld the April 2009 decision to deny the variance. The owner is going to have to bring his garage back within the scope of his initial permit.

That’s it for tonight. Make sure to come out this Wednesday, 7pm at Prairie Lakes for our monthly ward meeting.

Sunday
Jul052009

Community Development Briefing

On June 22nd the Community Development Committee met for a briefing by the city’s Community Development Department. While I am not one of the three named members to this committee, I attended because it’s important that new councilmen get the full picture prior to a development debate. Remember that all of the following is history. Today’s council will learn from these experiences as we approach new development opportunities. The following is a short summary of the facts, details, and questions I found
most interesting.

Des Plaines is a fully developed community. Therefore any new developments in town will actually be re-developments of existing property.

Metro-Square Outline
142 Condos
114,000 sq/ft of retail space
27,000 sq/ft of office space
471 car garage
Total Public/Private cost: $90m

Did the City give the developers $20m? No.
The only City-funded incentive given to the developer was in the form of a land-write-down. When a developer goes to some far western suburb and builds on a cornfield there are few obstacles. That same development in Des Plaines would be at a premium because of the high costs associated with re-development in a place with:

Many owners and properties to assemble,
Environmental concerns, and
Inadequate infrastructure.

A $9.5m land write-down was given to the developer to make our urban site more comparable to the cost of developing a cornfield.

Value of land before development: $1.4m
Value of new Metro-Square: $22m

In an effort to set the record straight, a number of sources have been commenting on the amount of retail space goining vacant in Metropolitan Square. When I drive down Market Street those storefronts seem empty, so how can this development be 75% occupied? There are about 97,000 sq/ft of retail space in Metro-Square, and only about 25,000 sq/ft is vacant. The problem is, those vacant 25k sq/ft represent about 43% of all the small storefronts in the development. In short, the whopping 40k sq/ft Shop & Save skews the statistics.

Des Plaines General Commercial Site Inventory
Type (# of sites) Square Feet
Office Space (91) 1.5m
Industrial (69) 2.2m
General Commercial (5) 85k
Retail (97) 296k
For Sale (12) 70k
Total (274) 4.2m

Local Retail Space Vacancies
Park Ridge – 5%
Palatine – 6.3%
Arlington Heights – 9.6%
Des Plaines – 10.8%
Prospect Heights – 21.1%
Mt. Prospect – 31.2%
(ComEd – April 1, 2009)

Potential development opportunities:
Oakton street corridor
Grazie Restaurant / Oakton Street corridor
Sims Bowl / Ellinwood Street corridor

Over the next few months, City Staff will be working with the elected officials to outline an economic development framework that will sustain any one staff person or Alderman. This is an exciting opportunity for the entire community to come together and work towards the same goal, which has to be:

Ensuring Des Plaines is the best value in the Northwest Suburbs; quality services at a reasonable (and low) cost to the taxpayers.

Monday
Jun292009

July 4th: "America's Famous Firsts" 

Join this year's July 4th Grand Marshal, the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce & Industry, celebrating their 75th anniversary serving Des Plaines' business community. Here are the details for the 4th:

10:00am - Parade Begins
(from Oakton-Prairie on Center) PARADE ROUTE
Following Parade - 24th Annual Ice Cream Social
Historical Society (815 Center St)
4:00pm - Fireworks
Oakton Community College ($5 Parking)

Want to support the production of this event? You can contribute to the Independence Day activities by rounding out your water bill payments to the City. Residents are encouraged to round off their water bill payment to the $5 or $10. Mail your payment as always or drop it off at City Hall, 1420 Miner St., Des Plaines, IL 60016.

Questions? Call Carrol Shannon at (847)391-5300 or (847)321-0583.

Monday
Jun292009

Help Wanted: 3rd Ward Columnist 

Have you ever written for an audience? Would you like to be in this summer's 3rd Ward e-newsletter as a guest columnist? Exercise that talent your friends keep talking about and take a stab at a local issue. Dive into a topic that has been pestering you and your neighbors, or give us some history on our own town.
Contact: Matt@3rdWard.org

Why join the discussion....

....when you can start it?

Monday
Jun292009

Ward Meeting: Wednesday, July 8th

This month's 3rd Ward meeting will focus on the ways our very own public library can help every one of us get by during these tough economic times. Whether it's job training, re-training, re-re-training, resume writting, interview skills, industriy research, fun for the kids, or maybe just a cheap date...our public library has some interesting ideas. There will be time for general questions, but let's keep the focus on library programming and policy.

Every 2nd Wednesday of the month...

July 8th - 7pm - Prairie Lakes

 

Monday
Jun292009

Wolf Road Resurfacing: 7/6/09

The Illinois Department of Transportation has just received notice that Wolf Road from Golf-Touhy will be resurfaced as a part of the American Reinvestment Recovery Act. Because this is an IDOT thoroughfare, the City is not directly responsible for the condition or scheduling of Wolf's improvements. I drive Wolf daily, so I'll be the first to admit that this resurfacing is desperately needed. Sadly, the headaches of congestion and construction will accompany any job.

The map to the right illustrates the huge scale of the project. Construction is expected to last for two months. Please start planning your work commutes around this 3rd Ward thoroughfare. Questions regarding Wolf Road's resurfacing can be directed to IDOT at (217)782-7820. If have more questions about the American Reinvestment Recovery Act and the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grants (TIGER), click HERE for a US Department of Transportation Fact Sheet.

Tuesday
Jun022009

The Taste of Des Plaines 2009

Bring your family to this year's Taste of Des Plaines for food, fun, and music!

Friday, June 5th   6-11pm
Saturday, June 6th   11am-11pm
Sunday, June 7th   11am-7pm

Here's the Entertainment Schedule.


For more information on the Taste of Des Plaines,
contact Special Events Chairman Linda Forman at (847) 922-0556.