Two Kendall County mayors joined 43 other Illinois mayors for a recent conference on municipal issues at the White House.
Yorkville Mayor Gary Golinski and Plano Mayor Bob Hausler joined representatives of the Illinois Municipal League at the White House on Feb. 22 to talk about the federal infrastructure plan and local projects that could benefit from federal spending.
Speaking at the White House meeting were Billy Kirkland, special assistant to the president and deputy director of intergovernmental affairs; Preston Cory of the Environmental Protection Agency; Anthony Bedell of the Department of Transportation; DJ Gribbin, special assistant to the president on infrastructure; Chris Syrek of the Department of Veterans Affairs; Rick Dearborn, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff; and Stephanie Fila of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Brad Cole, executive director of the Illinois Municipal League, said the mayors selected were either on the league’s board or active in the league.
“The mayors who were invited primarily included those who currently serve on the Illinois Municipal League board of directors, such as Mayor Hausler, and others who represent active communities around the state,” Cole said. “The group was representative of all four corners of Illinois.”
Hausler said the meeting was “productive.”
Hausler said he spoke with EPA representatives about the former Monarch Foundry site at 808 E. South St. in Plano.
“I asked them about any federal aid or grants or any federal help that was available for the Monarch Foundry site,” he said. “It’s a brownfield site and they were talking about different programs they had for Superfund sites. Ours isn’t a Superfund site, but we still have challenges with it, and that was one of the specific questions I had asked.”
Hausler said he had “a lot of concerns” about the president's infrastructure plan that was talked about.
“It doesn’t seem like a well-thought-out program and it amounts to cutting federal aid to the municipalities and the states for infrastructure programs,” he said.
Golinski said he was impressed with the “outreach from this [Trump] administration.”
“The first thing that really jumped out at me was the outreach from this administration,” he said. “I was impressed at the level of people we got to meet with; these are all pretty high-ranking people.”
He said getting contact information from the Trump administration officials was “invaluable.”
“We had a chance between speakers to touch base with these people,” he said.
Golinski said the mayors in the room represented the state from the Chicago region to southern Illinois towns like Cairo.
“A lot of our communities have a lot in common,” he said.
Golinski said he learned about a new program from the EPA that provides long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regional water infrastructure projects. The city of Yorkville, along with Montgomery and Oswego, is planning for a future regional water treatment facility, and Golinski said such a program could help that project.
“This was something I was obviously interested in because of our ongoing talks about our future water supply with Oswego and Montgomery,” he said.
Like Hausler, Golinski said he was also interested in brownfield cleanup programs from the EPA. There are buildings along East Van Emmon Street in the city’s downtown that are designated brownfield sites by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, according to that agency’s brownfield database. The city owns the parking lot directly behind those buildings.
“We have our own issues down by the riverfront, the parking lot by the old [Kendall County] Record building there,” Golinski said.
Golinski said he learned more about the president’s infrastructure plan from the White House officials.
“They talked about how they really want to take the decision-making out of Washington and make it more on the state and local level,” he said.