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Local News

Johnson looks ahead to busy year of building

Oswego Village President Gail Johnson expects 2019 will bring continued business and economic growth to the village.

Meanwhile, the arrival of several new businesses and the leasing of empty former big box stores were a highlight for Oswego in 2018, Johnson believes.

Johnson noted that the Oswego Brewing Company has moved into the formerly vacant lower level of the old fire station on Main Street, the Altitude trampoline park has moved into the former Bed, Bath and Beyond store on Route 34 in the Gerry Centennial Plaza shopping center off Route 34, and one-third of the former Lowes store, also located on Route 34, will be redeveloped as a family entertainment center.

“The new ground-up businesses will bring additional revenues to our schools, parks and library without additional students,” she said.

Johnson said the village has also seen what she described as a “complete turnaround” in the numerous community events it organizes, primarily in the downtown area.

The changes implemented by village staff, she said, have resulted in “bigger and better events funded through sponsorships rather than tax dollars.”

Johnson said residential development in the village substantially increased in 2018 and is now at a level not seen in the village in a decade. The new construction, she noted, has brought in an additional $1 million in impact fee revenues for Oswego School District 308 and additional property tax revenues for the school, park, fire and library districts.

Johnson lists the village’s financial condition, the completion of the new police station, and increasing business and residential development as top accomplishments for the community in 2018.

Johnson said that Oswego’s property tax rate of 0.1540 cents for every $100 of equalized assessed valuation is the lowest it has been since 2011. Under that rate, a village resident with a home valued at $200,000 that did not claim any available exemptions paid $102.66 in property taxes to the village this year.

The village’s tax rate has historically been among the lowest of any municipality in the Fox Valley area. This year, neighboring Yorkville’s tax rate was 0.6470 cents, while Montgomery’s was 0.5124 cents.

In October, Johnson and other village officials presided at the dedication of the village’s new police station on Woolley Road, just east of the Oswego Fire Protection District’s Station No. 1. The $30 million police station was completed on time and within budget, Johnson said.

Another key accomplishment for the village, Johnson said, was the village board granting final approval for the development of the $69 million Reserve at Hudson Crossing apartment and business development on the site of former Alexander Lumber yard site at Adams and Washington streets in the village’s downtown.

“This project is the tipping point for change in Oswego’s downtown. This will transform our downtown from quaint to vibrant and thriving,” she predicted.

Looking ahead to the new year, Johnson said she expects to participate in ground-breakings for new business developments, including The Reserve at Hudson Crossing, the Delta Sonic Car Wash on Route 34, a proposed Mexican restaurant on the site for the former village hall on Main Street and a new strip retail center on Orchard Road.

Also on Johnson’s “to do” list for 2019 is to secure funding through a new state capital bill for the long-planned extension of Metra commuter rail service into Kendall County.

Johnson views Metra service as boosting the village’s economic development efforts.

“Oswego has no access to interstates. Our only hope of attracting smaller corporate offices and additional business and retail will be along the Metra corridor and Orchard Road,” she said.

Johnson said the village also needs to identify a new source of drinking water.

“For almost two decades we have been warned that our natural water source [the Cambrian-Ordovician sandstone aquifer] is going dry. That means that our community of 34,000-plus will need to look for an alternate source for safe drinking water. The solutions we have explored are using the Fox River like the cities of Aurora and Elgin, or going to Lake Michigan via the DuPage Water Commission,” she said. ‘It is time for the village leadership to decide which way to proceed and plan accordingly. Making the decision early allows careful planning and preparation, insuring that current and future water system needs are in sync.”

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