Wow. I knew that there were political “scandals” in Elmhurst, but didn’t realize the extent until I read some of the residents’ letters earlier today. I totally see what you’re talking about; I think our Village President is trying to turn us into the next Schaumburg, but blatantly denies it (“We’re not going to be the next Schaumburg!”). As a former resident of Schaumburg, I think Algonquin would do well to take a few lessons from them; they have a first-rate police department, and extremely low taxes. I have never heard about corruption in Schaumburg, but I also didn’t look at local politics then the way I do now.
My interest in local government has stemmed from a poor street design. Essentially, I live on a street where homes are $450K+ and we spend nearly $10K in property taxes every year. We are a golf course community, and have ½ acre lots. Unfortunately, the Village put a major cut-through street right through the middle of the subdivision; it had to be a straight-shot because of the golf course (to maximize the perimeter lots, and thus, premiums for the builder). I completely understand this, but instead of maintaining it as a dead-end road (which it was when the homes were sold), the Village decided to open it up as a thoroughfare to get to the Magnificent Mile of shopping along Randall. The Village insisted that the land to the east of us was protected wetlands and the road would never go through. We now have over 4,000 vehicles per day passing our homes on a random Tuesday; the police have refused to conduct a traffic survey on a weekend, when the traffic volume is highest. We have estimated, based on citations issued, that as much as 93% of this traffic is non-local.
While there is no obvious corruption that I’m aware of, the President is building a little empire for himself. Our road is defined as a “collector” – the purpose is to channel traffic from local, adjacent homes on the small streets (cul-de-sacs and the like) to the arterial network; rather, we’re supporting western suburbs a bypass to the shopping corridor. The President doesn’t want to slow or prohibit traffic on our street because that would inconvenience the shoppers or disrupt relations with the businesses. The Municipal Code calls for parallel collectors every ¼ mile; currently they are spaced ½ mile apart or more. The next planned parallel route is a full mile south of us, and cannot be built for 10-15 years because there is a construction business in the way. The Village willingly admits that there aren’t enough parallel roads, but their solution is for us to wait until Algonquin Road is widened (which is just beginning) and other north-south roads (which will do nothing to alleviate east-west traffic). Residents believe there are other code violations on our street (the pavement is 2 feet shy of the collector requirement) which begs the question of whether the street was ever supposed to be a collector. Under the current code, curb cuts would not be allowed and sidewalks would be required (the subdivision was approved to not have sidewalks to preserve the “estate” feel). However, we have 65 homes facing the road with mailboxes at the curb.
Because of these variations from the current code, I have been on a mission to find the code that would have governed our homes to find out definitively whether there are code violations; not that much could have changed in 10 years between the development being approved and the publication of the current code. However, the Village has been prolonging the FOIA process for nearly six months (we’re looking for the code, we don’t have the code, we have it but only portions, come look at what we have, etc.). Their responsibility is to respond to the request within 7 business days; instead, I’ve exhausted all administrative efforts and have filed complaints with the Attorney General as to the lack of information. There is either a very poor records-keeping system, or there is a reason they don’t want me to have those codes; the Illinois Archives Office shows that they have code volumes going back to 1890 and the records retention policy requires that they maintain at least one copy of every volume. Additionally, they have no requests for document destruction of codes on file, so they should have every single copy of the code that was ever printed for any purpose – so where is the code? I could take them to court over this to make them produce the code, but I’m afraid it may alienate them into not ever doing anything; additionally, they could say a prior administration “lost” the code, and there’s nothing I can do about it and I could be liable for their attorney fees.
Unfortunately, our Board is elected at large; we do not have wards, so we do not have any local representation. A few of my neighbors have recommended that I run for Trustee, but I don’t know anything about politics; I just want my road to be safe! In order to embarrass or irritate the Board, I’m ready to do just about anything. Like you, I began taking photos of anything strange about 6 month ago. I have photos proving an Open Meetings Act violation, general maintenance, repair and wasteful incidents, and trees/mailboxes ruined because of reckless driving. About 6 years ago (right after the street was opened up) a neighbor’s home was struck by a speeding vehicle; our homes are about 80 feet off the curb, an uphill! The case law shows that the Village would be responsible and risks liability if anyone were to suffer damages on this street; essentially, they’ve been made aware of a dangerous situation, from multiple sources, for a number of years, and the situation still remains. This is a risk to the Village as a whole, because if someone were to file a lawsuit all of us taxpayers would be footing the bill. The Board’s suggestion to the residents is that we should pay their contractor to install sidewalks; like that will improve driving habits!
What sorts of lawsuits did they threaten you with? What came of it? I don’t want to be a lightening rod, but it pains me to see this nonsense continue. This is just the surface; if we’re seeing this much waste and recklessness, there has to be much more going on that we’re not aware of.
Sorry to go on so long – I just get worked up. How long has your website been active? I’m curious about the process (I’m assuming you’re using a webhost since there are no ads) – do you have a recommendation for a provider? I have used iPowerWeb in the past, and they’re excellent but I’m always open to suggestions.
Thank you again for sharing – there is strength in numbers. We’re on the same side, even if we’re fighting different battles!
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead