TROUT VALLEY – Unless you live in one of the village’s 229 homes, you might not know much about this little municipality, created a dozen years ago to fend off expansion efforts by neighboring Cary.
“I think Trout Valley is a wonderful little enclave that is one of the best kept secrets in McHenry County,” said Craig Mackey, one of four candidates vying April 7 for three trustee seats. “Sure there are private roads, but we don’t begrudge anybody from enjoying the valley. What we do have a problem with is younger people coming down and abusing the privilege.”
Mackey, who has served on the board for two years, moved to Trout Valley five years ago. The 46-year-old father of two is director of training facility solutions with Seattle-based Advanced Interactive Systems Inc. In his job designing training centers for police and military use, Mackey said he was very familiar with planning, zoning, and architectural hurdles associated with construction projects, such as road improvements.
He would like to tap into federal funds, available through the Council of Mayors and Illinois Department of Transportation, to repair the substructure of what formerly were private roads.
“Major items are improving roads and infrastructure, stormwater runoff management, preserving park area and common space. The list goes on and on,” Mackey said. “The village maintains the marina by the river, the pool, the barn for hosting social events and boarding horses.”
The top priority of fellow incumbent Michael Duffy, 63, is a Trout Valley Historical Museum to chronicle the valley’s colorful history. Tycoon John D. Hertz, of Hertz Rent-A-Car fame, raised polo ponies and racing horses on the land. Two Kentucky Derby winners have links to Hertz. He later sold Leona Farms to Otto Schnering, owner of Curtiss Candy Co.
“The greatest challenge for Trout Valley would be the aging population and burden of McHenry County taxes,” Duffy said.
He and his fellow candidates for four-year terms acknowledged that the village’s inability to tap into sales and property taxes from commercial development exacerbated the situation.
“We only meet six times a year. It’s kind of on auto pilot. We don’t have a lot to do,” Duffy said. “It’s the nature of the valley. Everything has been built on. We’re surrounded by Cary, the Fox River and a new park.”
Volunteerism runs strong in Trout Valley, with residents hosting fundraisers to improve the resident trout ponds and maintain common land. The homeowner association handles day-to-day operations.
Duffy, a manufacturer’s representative for Michael J. Duffy Co., moved to Trout Valley 18 years ago and already served four years on the board. He said he considered serving the village a calling.
“I grew up in the John Kennedy era and remember walking with my father to the polls,” Duffy said. “He instilled in me the desire to give back to the community. That is what we do. No one gets paid here. It’s all volunteer.”
David Hall, 63, also feels a sense of “public duty” to help oversee the expenditure of tax dollars – despite having grown up in England. He immigrated to the United States in 1974.
“I’ve got common sense, and I like serving,” said Hall, a construction consultant.
However, Hall said he had no intention of filling out a questionnaire for the newspaper. Nor would he be unduly concerned if he lost. He has no worries about any of the other candidates, he said.
“There are only 200 homes in Trout Valley. If anybody wants to know my position on anything, they have my phone number. The ruling body here is the [homeowner] association. That is it. But we have to have trustees. That is what is required by law.”
Mackey agreed that there was merit in keeping a low profile. But there is no reason the village should not participate in larger, countywide issues.
“If we become part of a bigger county effort, that doesn’t mean [the community] is going to change,” he said. “People are afraid of change, and they shouldn’t be.”
The fourth candidate, newcomer Dave Peterson, failed to return phone calls and e-mails. He did not file a questionnaire. Efforts to reach him through the village and county clerk also were unsuccessful.