The Ledger recently reached out to Montgomery Village President Matt Brolley to ask him about his top five goals for Montgomery heading into the new year. Here is how he responded:
As we begin 2017, I am looking forward with great excitement to the many opportunities that lie ahead for the village of Montgomery. We have enjoyed much success during the past several years with new housing, new commercial construction, the revitalization of Settlers Landing shopping center and significant roadway improvements. While we will certainly continue our efforts in those areas, five high-priority items come to mind that I would like to see us accomplish in 2017.
1. Focus on economic development and jobs. Montgomery is fortunate to be ideally situated near several major highways and a railroad, which has helped us to attract major new distribution facilities during the past few years. Bringing new jobs to the community, and retaining existing employers, is of prime importance so that residents have a variety of opportunities for good-paying jobs close to home. This benefits the entire region, in addition to Montgomery.
In light of the recent announcement by Caterpillar that they might close part of their plant in Kendall County, we intend to rally stakeholders, including neighboring municipalities, to explore options or incentives that may allow Caterpillar to continue its operation in Kendall County, or develop a plan of attack if they do in fact reduce operations there.
Cat has been a major employer in the area for over 50 years and again, jobs and economic development are a regional concern that impact all of us. This is a prime opportunity for us to harness regional resources to address this situation.
2. Offer small business assistance. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local community, and we will support locally owned businesses so that they can thrive alongside of larger businesses. Our economic development efforts must include various forms of assistance for small business owners. We are currently working on some low-interest loan options as well as local matching grants that we can offer to help support and sustain those vital and unique small businesses that have chosen to invest in our community.
3. Establish a new trash/recycling contract with a senior option. Our contract with our current waste hauler will be expiring at the end of July, so between now and then we will be looking at various options in order to meet the changing needs of the community.
We are seeking resident input on what currently works great about our program and what they might like to see changed. We understand that the needs of seniors for trash pickup services may differ somewhat, so we will be pushing for a senior option as part of our new contract. Our main goal will be to maintain the high level of service that our residents expect and deserve.
On a related note, we will also be reviewing our yard waste bags and leaf pickup programs to ensure that we have safe, reliable and efficient programs in place that meet the needs of our residents.
4. Promote Montgomery’s downtown and its businesses. Montgomery’s traditional downtown area is somewhat off the beaten path, but it has a lot going for it in terms of unique businesses and recreational opportunities. Over 10 years ago, the Village Board made the decision to further invest in the downtown by constructing the new Village Hall directly across from the VFW on South River Street.
Our small but vibrant downtown area extends several blocks in each direction from the Village Hall and we are now proud to include South Moon BBQ at Gray’s Mill. The new Riverview Diner on the east side of the river is a full-service restaurant, and Pig Dog Pub just north of Austin Park opened earlier this week as a family restaurant/sports bar for even more dining opportunities along the river.
Montgomery Park received a significant upgrade several years ago, and continues to be the location for our annual Montgomery Fest and concerts in the park. Both sides of the river offer prime fishing spots that are heavily used throughout most of the year. Kayaking, canoeing, and the network of walking/biking trails add to the attraction of this scenic location.
In 2017 we will continue to coordinate events, such as the annual 5K/10K River Run, that bring people to the downtown and increase use of these public spaces. We will also continue to seek out renovation and redevelopment opportunities in the downtown.
5. Implement plans for shared equipment and services. We were fortunate to receive a CMAP (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning) grant for a shared services study with the village of Oswego and the city of Yorkville. That study identified several potential areas of collaboration that will be put to practical use in the coming year and beyond.
Montgomery has already approved a shared services agreement with our two neighbors that creates a basis for the sharing of equipment, facilities and even employees. We have begun to partner with Oswego on an anti-icing program that makes use of Oswego’s brine-making system combined with the efficiencies of our truck unit for application. This has the potential to reduce the number of employees required to work on this effort while improving our service level in both communities.
In the future, we anticipate sharing specific specialized equipment so that each community does not need to make the significant investments to own such items on their own. Sharing employees with particular knowledge and training also has potential benefits. And finally, we are looking at the possibility of a shared water treatment facility for our three communities that would use water from the Fox River. While that is years in the future, the same principle of collaboration applies. It makes great financial sense to work together in order to increase efficiencies and save money on facilities, employees and equipment.
I have been honored to serve as Montgomery’s village president for the past four years and look forward to 2017 as the Village Board and residents work together to accomplish many things and continue to move Montgomery forward.