LAKE IN THE HILLS – Improving economic development was among the issues candidates for the Village Board discussed Wednesday at a forum.
Two candidates for Lake in the Hills village president and four candidates for village trustee gave their pitches Wednesday on why they should be elected April 9, during the forum at the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce.
Bill Dustin, who is a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and current Trustee Paul Mulcahy are competing for the village president spot.
Current Village President Ed Plaza is not running for a fourth term.
Trustees Denise Barreto, Stephen Harlfinger and Bob Huckins are running for re-election. Kenneth Tentler, who works in construction, is hoping to grab one of the seats up for grabs.
All of the candidates said they were against a continuous flow intersection at Randall and Algonquin Roads. The Lake in the Hills Village Board even passed a resolution last year against the idea of the continuous flow intersection, which was proposed to help alleviate traffic congestion. The board said it prefers a conventional intersection. They all had ideas of what can done with economic development.
Dustin said even though the village has hired an economic development coordinator, it should have done so four years ago.
"It's like closing the gate after the horse has left the barn," Dustin said.
To fill up spaces in town, the village needs to go to prospective companies rather than having them wait to come to the village. He said there is action going on, but "steps have to be bigger," Dustin said.
Mulcahy said business loss has happened across the county.
"I don't think we're experiencing any greater loss of business than other communities," Mulcahy said.
He said the village has recently started an incentive program, and is positioning itself to attract businesses to town.
"We've taken some steps to get to the front of the line and sell the village of Lake in the Hills," Mulcahy said.
Barreto said the village needs to focus on business retention as well as a growth plan. "There are businesses already here that we need to have relationships with and understand what their business needs are and if there are things we can do to help them," Barreto said.
She added that economic development takes time and requires building relationships with property owners and developers.
Harlfinger said the village tends to be a pass-through community as people go to shopping centers in Crystal Lake and Algonquin. Lake in the Hills has a few destination locations such as Costco and Lowe's, but there are areas the village can concentration on, such as along Route 31, Route 47 and Pyott, he said.
Harlfinger said with the economy starting to turn around, the village has an opportunity to attract developers, "to get them to come to Lake in the Hills, and develop these ... open parcels to bring in businesses for us to shop at."
Huckins agreed the village needs to work on retention, and said the village is landlocked.
"We need to save the Dominick's and we need to save the Walgreens, and other businesses that are looking to move into a more populated area," Huckins said. Tentler said the village can work on redevelopment of some areas, such as near Imhoff Industrial Park.
"It can be beautified, buildings can be torn down, buildings can be built," Tentler said.
He said he believes the village is a destination town, and said there has to be an aggressive campaign to bring the best businesses to town.
"Let's aim a little bit higher and ... let's work harder to get things we want," Tentler said.