Downtown development proposal tops year’s news in Barrington
Barrington architect Ron Flubacker and Paul Wells, the owner of ReMax in Barrington, are concerned about the size and uses proposed in the downtown redevelopment in the TIF District at Main and Hough. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media.
Top web stories
The five most-viewed stories in 2012 on the BARRINGTON COURIER-REVIEW website:
1. Jack Keeler latest Bronco football player to follow road to Madison.
2. Ice House Mall files to evict clothing retailer Peter Daniel after 29 years.
3. Two dead in apparent murder suicide in Barrington Hills.
4. Lake Barrington resident Lauren Debrauwere refuses to let the 2008 shooting at NIU define her.
5. Ex-Bronco Jake Feit out to prove making NFL is a snap.
Updated: December 27, 2012 7:30AM
BARRINGTON — While everyone prepares for 2013 and a fresh start, Pioneer Press offers Barrington Courier-Review readers the top five stories from 2012. Led by an ongoing downtown development debate and a teachers contract impasse, here are the highlights:
1. Debate centers around Hough and Main
Envision Realty Advisors have proposed a mixed retail and office development for the corner of Hough and Main streets in downtown Barrington’s TIF District.
While 2013 has been targeted for the start of construction, whether the final product will be a two or three-story building has yet to be decided.
A group of residents have voiced an opposition to the development, offering several lines of reasoning. Some have said the retail market is not strong enough for a development of such a scale. Office space, others have said, remains equally unfeasible. The size and scale of the development has also been a concern, with several residents saying it will alter the face of downtown Barrington.
Some of those people, who have detailed their perspectives at many public meetings, maintain that a mix between retail and residential property would be preferable. Responding to the calls for adding residential units to the mix, officials at Envision have said that by not dedicating any of the property to residential, they are not placing any additional burden on the area’s school district.
The discussion is ongoing.
2. District 220 teachers work without a contract
In the face of teachers strikes across the Chicago area, District 220 teachers have remained on the job, even though their contract expired early in 2012.
The School Board and the Barrington Teachers Association have been in negotiations for much of the year. On Oct. 31, however, district administrators announced that members of the teachers union had authorized a possible strike in light of the impasse.
More recently, the teachers union called in a federal mediator to bridge remaining issues.
“We were hoping not to get to this point, but we used a mediator last time and reached a settlement, so that is what we are expected to do,” said Melanie Collins, president of the Barrington Education Association.
Officials reported that the two sides remain apart on salaries, benefits, working conditions and other matters.
“Most importantly, the assistance intends to secure an agreement in the best interest of students, staff and community stakeholders,” a District 220 letter to the community stated.
Meetings or progress with the third-party mediator involved have not been released.
3. Election Day brings new leadership
While the November election was headlined by the presidential race, the 2012 ballot also offered many significant local races in Barrington.
Democrat Tammy Duckworth won the hotly-contested 8th Congressional District race against incumbent Rep. Joe Walsh, a Tea Party-backed Republican.
In Barrington’s other Congressional race, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam held onto his 6th District seat by beating Democratic challenger Leslie Coolidge in all four counties within the redrawn district.
Republican state Rep. David McSweeney retained his 52nd District State House seat in a race against independent challenger Dee Beaubien. Republican state Rep. Tom Morrison earned the right to continue representing the 54th District in Springfield.
As for the state Senate, both Dan Duffy, R-26th, and Matt Murphy, R-27th, were sent back to Springfield.
4. Voters opt for electric aggregation
Barrington residents overwhelmingly voted for a referendum proposal March 20 that launched a local electric aggregation program.
The measure groups Barrington and Lake Zurich small businesses and residents together to gain a better electricity rate from an alternative energy supplier. Electric aggregation was wildly popular on March ballots, as 269 other municipalities posted similar referenda.
ComEd remains in charge of delivery and local infrastructure, and the referendum had no effect on its portion of the bill.
In May, Barrington officials approved and adopted an Electricity Aggregation Program Plan of Operation and Governance. Dennis Burmeister, Barrington’s director of public works, said the plan will save residents every month on their electric bills. The adoption of the new program came from an agreement with the Northern Illinois Municipal Electric Collaborative. Village estimates put residents’ monthly savings as high as 45 percent.
5. News businesses open in town
ACE Hardware and the Heinen’s Fine Foods grocery store headlined the new business activity in Barrington in 2012.
Now open on Northwest Highway, John Brown said he always wanted to open a hardware store. The previous ACE Hardware in Barrington closed several years ago, so Brown jumped at the chance to bring it back.
Prior to ACE occupying the space, the property on Northwest Highway was occupied by Fisher Nuts. ACE Hardware employs about a dozen people and carries more than 25,000 products.
Heinen’s Fine Foods also opened in town, offering residents a grocery shopping alternative.
On opening day in August, the store attracted large crowds of shoppers eager to see what the new grocer was offering. In addition to providing the village with a second grocery store, Heinen’s has provided many area high school students with after school and summer jobs. Heinen’s opened in the Flint Creek Shopping Center in the former site of Staples.