Importance of strategic development

Opinion: Columns

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By Bob O'Connell

Candidate One View

I want to thank the editor(s) of Wednesday Journal for your endorsement of my candidacy for the River Forest Board of Trustees. I would like to share my perspective on why I feel that I would be an important addition to the board.

After growing up in Oak Park and graduating from Fenwick, my mother realized a dream that she and my father had worked hard for all their lives: building the home of their dreams. They were very lucky to find a vacant lot on Keystone Avenue. My mother lived in that home until the early 2000s. 

My return to River Forest occurred a few years ago when I met and married my wife, Holly Economos. With her two great kids, I returned to Keystone Avenue.

Three years ago, I was approached by Village President Cathy Adduci to join the Economic Development Commission. I jumped at the opportunity, believing that my experience in the commercial real estate field could benefit the village and its residents. Eighteen months ago, I was asked to lead the commission, which has actively been involved in several of the development projects that have been initiated over the past few months and plays a vital role in ensuring that the properties that are available for development within the village provide the best opportunity to fit into the character of the community.

I believe economic development is one of the key initiatives our village board needs to address at this time. As I have visited with neighbors and friends, and attended forums and coffees, a couple of recurring themes come up: stabilizing taxes and the dreaded TIF.

Let's be clear what a TIF is and what it is not. TIFs are a financing tool. TIFs were not created to take people's homes through eminent domain. TIFs are financing tools that encourage developers to come to town and develop properties that otherwise might not be developed. 

 If the village takes a strategic approach, we can control the development that comes to town with uses that will provide retail sales tax, which helps all of us while minimizing the effect on services and schools.

I believe my experience and commitment to the entire community makes me qualified to join the River Forest Village Board. 

Please come out and vote on April 2. 

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