A new Village Hall. A new Police Department. A new Fleet Services Building. New Social Services offices. All expensive capital projects; all, the village staff says, needed.
Couldn’t have come forward at a worse time, but it’s about time.
The village has already done a lot of the legwork to get this rolling, and any combination of the above listed needs can be ready to start at short notice.
While this may or may not become a topic of TCD3, resident and DG Watch member Bill Wrobel asked last Tuesday for council to consider a specific advisory referendum so voters at the April 7th election can give their up/down non-binding opinion on this issue/project.
Council seemed less than thrilled with the topic. In tough times, voters say no, and council knows it. Although the council could still get the wheels turning to put the question on the ballot, there was no expressed desire by any council commissioner to do so.
Wrobel followed up with an email:
From: william c wrobel
Sent: Wed 1/28/2009 9:08 AM
To: Schnell, Marilyn; Beckman, Bruce; Tully, Martin; Sandack, Ron; Waldack, William; Neustadt, Geoff; Durkin, Sean
Cc: Fieldman, David; Baker, Michael
Subject: Village Complex/Referendum
Good Morning Mayor, Commissioners, and Managers:
As a postscript to my Public Comments at last nights Workshop Meeting relative to getting the Public to Buy Into and get involved with the Village Complex project, I would like to give a brief history of the Referendum as an advisory tool in Downers Grove.
In 1970/71, Mayor Frank Houck and his Council adopted Resolution 71-81, advocating citizen input by advisory or binding referendum with large budget items.
Mayor Betty Cheever and her Council adopted Resolution 81-1 in dealing with ficscal issues of the Village, and again in 1995 Cheever’s Council amended and updated those resolutions to work together with their expanded Home Rule Powers.
You will recall, when the Home Rule Referendum was put before the Citizens of Downers Grove on March 21, 2006, 11,291 Voters expressed their interest in the Referendum, pro or con. The largest voter turn out in Downers Grove History!
As mentioned repeatedly by Staff a critical part of the process is to get as many people involved in the process in order to get a good sample of the Community. They are also putting a lot of effort into getting the Citizens involved in TCD3.
It seems logical that it would be prudent to survey the People of Downers via a Advisory Referendum and make them partners on the Village Complex Project. Wouldn’t you feel great if the majority of 11,000 voters gave you their support in these uncertain times.
One has just to listen to today’s news and witness the efforts that President Obama is putting forth to get the majority of Congress to agree to his spending plan, and agree to pay for it.
If you are going to mortgage the Village of Downers Grove with this project, it would be prudent to have the people of Downers Grove co-sign.
As a Village Government it takes little work and little expense to file a referendum with the DuPage County Board of Elections and it could be presented to the People of Downers Grove on the April 7th Election Ballot.
Thanks for your evaluating these thoughts!
Bill Wrobel doesn’t just watch local government, he has been a long time real advocate for issues that effect residents. As a member of DG Watch, he worked through two separate petition cycles to get the Home Rule issue before voters (full disclosure: I signed their petitions, and voted to keep Home Rule). Voters said keep Home Rule. He also worked with two different councils, village managers, and mayors on educating our local government officials about traffic calming devices, and getting those into the village toolbox for addressing areas of the village where people drive too fast for conditions, like Claremont Avenue east of Main. South High School employs permanent speed tables on their Norfolk extension for the same purpose nowadays. They work.
It’s likely there will be a PR campaign for the capital projects, but it has flown pretty much off radar. I attended a facilities meeting several months ago, and have probably been the only resident who has. At that meeting, staff and council members Beckman and Schnell began the process of grappling with the problem-inadequate facilities-and the problem of explaining the need to residents.
You should start by reading the PSA Dewberry study that the village commissioned. It’s pretty complete, and contemplates some major changes in where our local government works. In particular, the last section deals with projected costs.
These documents have been on line for public inspection for close to two years. When this project moves forward, and it will, there will probably be questions about why weren’t we told. Well, the village is trying to figure that out now, and will be trying to tell us during TCD3 and in events and tours of existing facilities. The bigger question is, will residents take in the offered information, or simply wait until it’s a done deal, then wring hands about lack of transparency, packing council meetings well after it’s a done deal.
This is just another reason to get involved in TCD3. If you have not yet done so, register at the TCD3 website, fill out the Questionnaires, and register for the first general meeting, to be held at South High School in the cafeteria
The results of the Questionnaire will be used as the basis for discussion at the first TCD 3 Community Workshop on March 4, 2009 at Downers Grove South High School, starting promptly at 7:00 p.m Space is limited, so if you think the Village Hall issue is important to the village, or any issue or topic for that matter, you have to speak up early and often or you will not be heard.
To confirm your attendance, call (630) 434-5527 during weekday business hours.