Most Naperville city council members blend into the woodwork, but not councilman Kevin Coyne. He has been pounding the drums for improvements along Ogden Avenue, and specifically East Ogden Avenue, also known as the Ogden corridor. When driving westbound on Ogden Avenue from Lisle, it’s bleak with vacant buildings. empty store fronts, tired strip malls, and nothing that exudes any type of energy. In two words, it’s spectacularly dull.
Coyne has taken it upon himself to champion the cause for improvement. Coyne envisions new development, better and inviting lighting, attractive and colorful landscaping, appropriate updated signage, and relocation of utility poles and wires underground.
To get this accomplished, Coyne has suggested creating a special service area in which ‘corridor’ businesses pay a fee into a fund, which would reimburse the city for borrowed money fronted for the improvements. The idea would be put up for a vote of corridor-business owners requiring a majority vote to move forward.
It’s feasible, but more importantly, Coyne is trying to make something worthwhile happen. Other than mayor Chirico, and councilwoman Becky Anderson’s talk about making Naperville a ‘Welcoming City’, is any other council member ‘championing’ anything, or are they just riding along like passengers on a train.
I agree that this stretch of Ogden is in need of revitalizations in order to attract businesses to these properties. It is important to understand that revitalization of the Ogden corridor would mean more jobs and more tax revenue for the city, which benefits everyone in Naperville (the same way the Riverwalk has), not just these few property owners. So it would seem only equitable that the cost of these improvements be share by all Naperville property owners since they will be benefiting either directly or indirectly from them. This is the reason I have a problem with the Special Service Area approach to funding these improvements.
First SSA is just another way of saying property tax increase, but only for a “luck” few. I find it interesting that both Coyne and the Watchdog would support a property tax increase considering how much time both parties have spent bitching about this very thing. Stating repeatedly how they chase away businesses, costing the community jobs and tax revenue. And how the “sky high” property taxes in Illinois are what are killing the state’s economy thus justifying support for a property tax freeze. Coyne and the Watchdog supporting a property tax increase for these “luck” few seems very hypocritical to me.
Second, these improvements easily falling into the amenities category and the city already implemented a special tax years ago (food and beverage tax) to pay for amenities. These funds are used annually to pay for maintaining the Riverwalk, which was originally created on the premise it would draw shoppers to the downtown stores and away from the Fox Valley Mall, as well as to pay promotional costs for the downtown business district. The city council has carved out a loin’s share of these funds (over 3 million just last year) to be spent at their discretion, which has been to pay down pension liabilities, city debt and various operating expenses. The “discretionary” spending of these funds over the last 5 years would have been enough to pay for most if not all of the Ogden improvements discussed. Use of these funds to cover these costs would only seem equitable considering all the businesses along Ogden that have collected these taxes over the years but have never seen any of it used to their benefits, unlike the downtown businesses.
Third, if any part of Naperville can be considered blighted this area is best qualified, definitely more then the Water Street area of downtown. I personally do not support TIFF districts but if it is good enough for Water Street then why not the Ogden corridor? This approach could not only be used to cover the costs of improvements but encourage redevelopment of these properties, which is essential to any effort to revitalization this part of Naperville.
Lastly, several property owners along Ogden have spent a great deal of money and time maintaining and improving their properties while their neighbors have done little if anything. An SSA would penalize these property owners for the neglect of their neighboring property owners; something which they have no control over. Not exactly a good way to incentive property owners to be responsible community members.
So, I see the SSA approach to solving the Ogden corridor issues as the worst possible solution of those available to city council. It would be perfectly reasonable for the property owner along Ogden to not only reject this solution but be offended by it.
I’m wondering why the previous mayors and city managers left Ogden go down the tubes.. Lots of new building along Ogden in DG
It over 5 mile from Naperville’s eastern border to the closest new construction in Downer Grove and the entire city of Lisle lies between these two cities. If you bother to look at the roughly 2.5 mile stretch of Ogden that goes through Lisle, before reaching Downers Grove, you will see more empty and rundown properties then in Naperville.
No one really let Ogden go down the tubes. As Naperville grew and more of the empty properties along RT59 and Aurora Avenue were developed business migrated to the new construction in this part of town. The owners of these properties were simply more aggressive in marketing then the properties owners along Ogden.
The situation along the eastern corridor of Ogden Ave is more the result of progress then negligence.
^ Jim as per your usual long winded essays on this site, it takes a while to sort through your verbiage and uncover your point. Unless I’m reading it incorrectly, your overall point is this sentence:
“So it would seem only equitable that the cost of these improvements be share by all Naperville property owners since they will be benefiting either directly or indirectly from them.”
Can you explain exactly what you mean by this, and how it would be done? It seems you’re suggesting a tax increase on everybody (homeowners and businesses?) to revitalize this area of Ogden. Yes?
Revitalizing this area would, as I have said before, provide more jobs as well as increased revenues and property values which means increased tax revenue for the city. For about the last 5 years city revenue from property taxes has been around $35 million of the city’s roughly $450 million budget ( less than 10%). Increasing city revenue from sale tax and food & beverage tax means less dollars needed in property taxes to fill the city budget. Also increased property values along Ogden means increased property taxes from these owners, thus less from everyone else. So, this is what I mean by everyone in the city benefiting from revitalizing these properties and not just the owners of these properties.
I pointed to three means of funding beside SSA. One was an increase in everyone’s property taxes. For how long and by what amount would depend on the total costs and how long the city intended to carry the debt (5, 10, 20 years) before paying it off. This was not my preferred method of funding this project. My preferred method would be to use the roughly $3 million annually in food and beverage taxes that are not placed in the SECA fund to pay for this project, since a revitalized Ogden would be as much and amenity to the city as the Riverwalk or the Downtown Group that has received millions in SECA funds to promote the downtown business district. And it would be every bet as much of an economic benefits as paying down pension obligations and city debt, which most of this $3 million annually is presently being spent on. This tax and this revenue already exist, so it would not mean and increase in taxes for anyone.
The increase everyone’s property taxes was me expressing my belief that if this project should be funded through property tax then it should be a property tax increase for all Naperville property owners (over 50K) not just the few hundred along the Ogden corridor, because it would benefit everyone in Naperville not just these property owners. But a property tax increase would not be my preferred method of finance this project. The property tax option is about as popular with me as the TIFF option.