2019 Year in Review - What a Year!
(As published in the Glencoe Anchor)
As I write this retrospective on 2019, I am still amazed that it is even possible the year is coming to a close. It has certainly been one for the record books, as many of us will remember 2019 for years to come, thanks to our amazing year-long sesquicentennial celebration. While these celebrations honored our community’s history throughout the past 150 years, 2019 will also serve as an important year in setting our sights towards the future.
The Village’s 150th anniversary year provided many opportunities for us to gather as a community to showcase our Glencoe pride. Perhaps you joined us for Light the Lights in November 2018 and 2019, which served to bookend our sesquicentennial festivities. Earlier this year, you might have attended the Glencoe 150 Hall of Fame Dinner, participated in the Village’s birthday party and flag raising ceremony at Village Hall or attended the amazing original musical I Love This Town: A Musical Salute to Glencoe at Writers Theatre. Glencoe’s enhanced 4th of July activities, filled with family fun and tradition, may have been how you celebrated the Village’s 150th anniversary. (Maybe you even took a shot at me in the dunk tank that afternoon—it was very refreshing!) Last, you may have learned about Glencoe’s last 150 years by exploring the myriad of Glencoe Historical Society events or exhibits. Regardless of how you celebrated, I hope you were able to get out, meet your neighbors, learn more about our community and enjoy all the countless ways we are so very proud to call Glencoe home.
Amidst the celebrations, it has been a busy year for the Village. We have been working through significant projects, some of which are still in progress: the potential redevelopment of the former Hoover Estate at 1801 Green Bay Road (which is working its way through the Village’s subdivision review process), planning for exciting streetscape improvements to Tudor Court (set to begin next spring) and internal technology improvements to enhance Village service delivery. We experienced one of the wettest years on record, testing our resolve at the Glencoe Golf Club as we watched stormwater improvements the Village has invested in over the last 20 years do what they were designed to do and keep homes dry. We partnered with Family Service of Glencoe to become a “Dementia Friendly Community,” underscoring our commitment to embracing and supporting all parts of our population. Last, following comprehensive analysis and significant public dialogue, the Village Board decided not to allow the sale of recreational cannabis in Glencoe.
In partnership with District 35, we received over $110,000 from the Illinois Department of Transportation through a Safe Routes to School grant; through this partnership, we will implement critical safety improvements on sidewalks and street crossings near West and Central Schools. As a testament to our efforts in providing the community with exceptionally high levels of service, as well as our commitment to financial accountability and transparency, Standard and Poor’s reaffirmed Glencoe’s coveted AAA bond rating yet again this year, ranking our community among the best-of-the-best in local government finance. We took home a Savvy Award from 3CMA for our Budget in Brief document, which was lauded for its visual design and simplicity in explaining Village finances and were also nationally recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the 20th consecutive year.
What has been accomplished could not have been without significant effort from numerous individuals that are dedicated to ensuring that Glencoe remains the place that families plant roots and local businesses thrive. As I have shared with you in past years, Glencoe is a community of plans and planners. The Village President and Board of Trustees, staff, volunteer boards and commissions, and countless others are all working in tandem to keep the Village focused on its mission and are guided by comprehensive planning efforts, such as the Village’s annual budget, Strategic Plan and Downtown Plan. Our financial documents utilize both quantitative and qualitative data (like engagement from our community stakeholders) to prepare for necessary future investments in Glencoe’s infrastructure, and do so in order to minimize impacts to residents while appropriately applying our resources to meet the needs of the community. For example, investments in the Village’s roads, sidewalks, water mains and sanitary and storm sewers are just a few of the numerous future projects included in our 10-year, $53 million Community Investment Program (CIP). Next year alone, we will invest over $2.5 million to replace water meters (over 3,000, serving all water customers in Glencoe) with new, state-of-the-art smart meters, equipped with technology to help you better understand your water use and guide Village staff in efficiently and effectively monitoring and managing the Village’s water distribution system.
As the Village prepares for projects like these, your feedback is essential. The Village’s Strategic Plan underscores our commitment to engaging our residents and responding to your needs. To that end, the Village recently conducted its 2019 Community Survey. Nearly 20% of Glencoe households responded to the survey. In reading the results, I am pleased with the progress we’ve made and am energized to continue striving for continuous improvement. A few facts stand out: 99% of residents continue to believe Glencoe is a great place to live; 94% believe Glencoe is a safe place to live; 76% believe the Village is on the right track (an increase of 11% since 2015); and 73% are satisfied with the value received for your tax dollar (36% above the national average).
Although survey results highlight areas of success, your feedback also provides several areas of opportunity for the Village moving forward. Thanks to your feedback, we will continue to keep working to make sure you feel informed and engaged about what’s going on in the Village. To do so, we will double down on the use of social and print media and explore other ways to engage. Likewise, we know you want us to continue to work to maintain and enhance the vibrancy of Glencoe’s business community (I’m happy to report the downtown maintained almost 100% first-floor occupancy for much of 2019). We will continue to enhance our business-friendly focus to encourage additional businesses to consider Glencoe first, and to help keep those businesses already in Glencoe here.
In addition to the many initiatives and projects upcoming and ongoing, we are also preparing for the 2020 United States Census. As I see more and more young families in our community, I’m curious how our community has changed since the last census in 2010. I encourage you to respond to census materials; the results will further help the Village to respond to both the short- and long-term needs of our community. I also encourage you to interact with the information the Village shares – whether it’s through our social media accounts (our survey told us you love NextDoor, so look for our posts there), our bi-weekly eNewsletter, our printed Inside Glencoe newsletter or other information channels. The Transparency Portal on the Village’s website is a great place to start if you’d like to learn more about the projects, plans and data sets I referenced above. Please visit www.villageofglencoe.org and let us know what you think about the things we’re doing at the Village.
All of us at the Village of Glencoe work hard each day in service to each of you in this community. We look forward to continuing to do so in 2020!
Learn more about the Village from Village Manager Phil Kiraly’s blog at www.villageofglencoe.org/blog and follow Phil on Twitter @PhilKiraly.