Thursday, December 21, 2006

Traffic Signal Has A New Sequence

Beginning Friday, Dec 22nd, the traffic signals at the intersection of Highland and Douglas Avenues will display a new signal sequence that will include a left-turn green arrow along with the normal green pass signal on northbound Douglas Ave..

“We’re just letting drivers know that there is a change in how to they should proceed through the intersection,” said John Loete, Director of Public Works. “Drivers on southbound Douglas Ave. should be aware that their green signal will be delayed for a short time to allow the northbound traffic onto westbound Highland Avenue the needed time to make that turn. “

New traffic signal equipment is being installed throughout the City’s Central Business District (CBD) as part of a $3.1 million CBD Traffic Signal Replacement Project. Currently, new signal equipment is operational at seven intersections with additional new equipment at six intersections waiting for Commonwealth Edison to connect power to the new equipment.

For more information, contact Steve Pertzborn, Senior Engineer, at (847) 931-3160.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Metra Schedule Changes

Some changes to the Milwaukee District West Line Schedule as of December 11th.

The Milwaukee District West Line, which runs between downtown and Big Timber Road in Elgin, now stops at the new station at Grand and Cicero. That station replaces the Cragin stop, at 1912 N. Leclaire, and the Hermosa stop, at 1800 N. Keeler.

Hey, Metra riders: Check that new schedule - Sun Times article

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Water Main Installation Night Work to Continue

Central Business District (CBD) Street Resurfacing and Streetscape Program

Weather permitting, construction of the new water main from Chicago Street south down South Grove Avenue will begin the week of December 11, 2006. This work will be done at night in order to minimize impact on downtown businesses and the motoring public. The far right lane on Chicago Street from the river to just east of South Grove Avenue will be closed as well as South Grove Avenue between Chicago Street and Prairie Street. The lane closures will begin at 9 p.m. each evening and will be reopened before 5 a.m. the following morning.

Parking along South Grove Avenue will not be allowed during the lane closures. All vehicles should be removed prior to 9 p.m.

Traffic wishing to travel north from Prairie or Fulton Street can use Spring Street as an alternate.

For further information, please contact Steve Pertzborn, Senior Engineer, at 847-931-5955.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Street Closures Set for Snow Removal

Several downtown streets will be closed from 6 to midnight on Wednesday, December 6th as city crews work to clear snow from on-street parking areas. South Grove Avenue, from Chicago to Spring streets, will be closed throughout the six-hour span.
The following blocks will be temporarily closed between Highland Avenue and East Chicago Street:
• Riverside Drive.
• East side of State Street (Illinois 31).
• South Grove Avenue.
• Douglas Avenue.
These blocks will be closed only as long as it takes crews to clear snow piles from the street parking areas. City crews worked to clear nearly 310-center lane miles of city-owned roads after about 10-inches of snow fell over the entire Elgin area Friday. Signs will be posted to inform residents and guests of road closures and detour routes. For more information, contact Public Works Director John Loete at (847) 697-3160

Christmas Open House at Elgin Windmill Factory Antiques

Wednesday December 6, 5-9pm

Elgin Windmill Factory Antiques
80 N. State Street (Route 31)
Elgin, Illinois 60123

We will be celebrating the entire day so stop in whenever is convenient for your busy
schedule. We will have finger sandwiches, hot cider, punch and other goodies for
you to munch. The antique mall will have several dealers present and many
discounts will be available to you during that time. We will have live music with
piano playing, harp, flute, and maybe even cow bells. We hope that many of you
can make it on this special night of fun and just enjoying being out with many of our
friends. You can always check out our website at
for further details, directions or just to contact us.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Aaron Neville Concert Cancelled Due to Weather

The Aaron Neville concert at the Hemmens Auditorium in Elgin scheduled for tonight is canceled due to weather conditions. Ticket holders are asked to keep their tickets until further information is available. An announcement will be made by Hemmens’ management by Monday, with more specific details concerning a rescheduled date. Check the Hemmens’ Web site at for updated information.

Meanwhile, any current ticket holder to the Aaron Neville Concert can purchase tickets at half-price for Saturday (Dec. 2) Windham Hill Winter Solstice performance by showing their tickets at The Hemmens’ Box Office. This concert is scheduled for 8 p.m., after the Elgin’s Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Civic Plaza.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Elgin's local artists get home of their own

From the Chicago Tribune on November 28, 2006

A nomadic existence isn't uncommon for theater groups, but Sean Hargadon will happily relinquish the role when Elgin opens a city-subsidized theater space next year.

The Elgin resident founded Janus Theatre Company eight years ago, and his troupe has done shows in Chicago and around the suburbs.

"I think this is overdue; there has been a real need for this type of venue in Elgin," Hargadon said. "We had to do a lot of work in Chicago because there wasn't any space in Elgin."

Renovation of the eighth floor at 164 Division St. for the "black box" theater, whose spaces are typically unadorned, is expected to be complete in time for a January opening. The eight-story Gothic-style office building opened in 1928 and is registered as a local historic site. The city will pay about $115,000 over three years to owner 164 Division LLC, a Chicago investment group.

Read the article here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Elgin Academy Media, Science and Fine Arts Center

The Media, Science, and Fine Arts Center--a major building in the center the of the Academy’s Hilltop Campus--assumes the highest priority for facilities improvements that will be instrumental in helping the school accomplish its goals.

The building is designed as an environmentally sensitive, LEED-certified structure under the criteria of the U.S. Green Building Council. It will be a “campus hub” while serving the needs of every student in Early Childhood, Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools.

The Academy anticipates construction of the Center at the corner of Dundee Avenue and Kimball Street. The facility will encompass approximately 42,300 square feet on four levels. It is designed to meet a variety of needs for all students, from preschool through twelfth grade.
· A new Library will provide ample space to increase the print and electronic collections that compliment the EA curriculum and will be fully integrated with the computer technology resources of the Academy.
· The Fine Arts Department and virtually all Fine Arts activities will be served by the new Center. The Black Box Theatre will serve the needs of all EA students, as well as providing performance space for many community performing arts groups who will rent the space.
· New state-of-the-art Science and Math Labs will serve Middle and Upper School students.

The new Center will spark many other beneficial changes and will create new opportunities to use space in Edwards, Sears, and North Halls. The greatest changes will occur in Sears Hall where several classrooms are being renovated, lockers replaced, and bathrooms remodeled. Changes in North Hall include converting the art rooms to Preschool and Lower School classrooms. Changes in Edwards Hall include enlarging the computer lab and renovating science classrooms.

Spring 2007 Groundbreaking for the new Center, and construction begins
August 2008 Occupancy of New Media, Science, and Fine Arts Center

Go to the Elgin Academy web site for more information.

Water Main Installation Being Done At Night

Construction of the new water main on and across Chicago Street is being done the week of November 20th at night in order to minimize impact on downtown businesses and the motoring public. This work will include the installation of water main along the south side of Chicago Street from North Grove, where new water main has already been installed, to South Grove. At that intersection, the water main installation will turn south along South Grove. No further water main work on Chicago Street is anticipated in this phase of the project.

Lane closures on Chicago Street will begin at 7 p.m. but the street will remain open to traffic. All lanes on Chicago will be open before the morning rush hour. Utility construction in the downtown area has created many challenges. The night construction for the crossing of Chicago Street is being utilized in order to maintain full access to businesses during the day and to minimize disruption to traffic during peak times.

For further information, please contact Steve Pertzborn, Senior Engineer, at 847-931-5955.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Elgin Receives Three Awards for Excellence in Downtown Revitalization

Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn concluded the 13th Annual Illinois Main Street Downtown Revitalization conference November 14 and 15 held in Waukegan with the Lieutenant Governor Awards for Excellence in Downtown Revitalization. The Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) with Community partners brought back to Elgin three awards recognizing local efforts.

The 2005 Block Walk Report Project completed by the DNA Design Committee was a co-winner of the Design Committee Project, the Judson College Partnership with DNA won in the Partnership Development category, and lastly Giants: African Dinosaurs Created by Project Exploration/ Dinos on Parade was a co-winner in the Special Event category. The Downtown Neighborhood Association also received designation as a Premier program through the Illinois Main Street Program, which there are only seven of in Illinois out of sixty-nine communities.

Present to receive an award for the 2005 Block Walk Report was architect, Eric Pepa, urban planner and landscape architect, Paul Bednar, and construction contractor, Rick Krocza as active DNA Design committee participants in this project. The judges declared,” This was a wonderfully proactive approach and a great model for other Main Streets.”

Present to receive an award for the Judson College Partnership was Provost & VP for Academic Affairs, Dale Simmons, Architecture department chair Dr. Curtis Sartor, and students Josh McGarvey, Nickolas Coile, John Wetendorf, Aaron Wood, and recent graduate Maria Sierra. One judge commented, “What a great use of their resources! The students benefit from practical experience and the community reaps the awards!”

Present to receive the “Giants: African Dinosaurs Created by Project Exploration/ Dinos on Parade” award from Gail Borden Public Library was Carole Medal, executive director, Karen Maki, deputy director, Denise Raleigh, director of communications and Jean Bednar, library board member and foundation trustee. The judges declared this a “Dino-mite project” that Gail Borden Public Library, the community and DNA took part in. The project was a success because of a tremendous number of people that contributed.

Illinois Main Street communities from throughout the state submit their best projects for the annual awards. A distinguished panel of judges, including economic development specialists, historic preservation architects, and downtown professionals made the award decisions.

The Lieutenant Governor’s Office administers the Illinois Main Street program, which has 69 designated communities, with an additional 25 introductory communities on the way. It is based on a national model that offers communities help with issues of historic preservation, economic development and downtown improvements. Illinois has the 4th largest program out of the 40 plus states that belong to the National Main Street program administered through the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Downtown Elgin’s Window Wonderland “Holidays Around The World” Event Ushers in Holiday Season

The Downtown Neighborhood Association’s 8th Annual Window Wonderland Event kicks off the holiday season on December 2 from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. All of the event festivities will take place on Elgin’s east side in historic downtown Elgin. This year’s theme, “Holidays Around The World” features activities and events offered by eighteen downtown businesses and several outside organizations. Offerings include refreshments, crafts for children, story-telling, dance workshops, music, dessert and coffee sampling, face-painting, and games. The event coincides with the City of Elgin’s annual tree-lighting ceremony.
Photos with Santa Claus will be offered in the historic Tower Building on the corner of Douglas and Chicago/Grove Streets from 2:00-5:00 p.m. Cost for photos will be $5 each if individuals present a stamped Holidays Around The World “passport,” or $8 each without an event passport. Event passports may be picked up at the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) office at 2 Douglas Ave. or businesses listed below. All activities are free and open to the public.
Assett Realty, 123 S. Grove will have food sampling; Aztec Imports, 163 E. Chicago will offer refreshments; Café Magdalena, 13 Douglas will offer story-telling, “African Christmas” with a craft and refreshments for 3-10 year olds at 2pm and 3:30pm; Evolution Staffing, 10 Douglas will host a bean bag toss game by the St. Edward’s Crusader Youth Cheerleaders; Gasthaus, 15 N. Grove will offer strudel and hot chocolate; Great American Family Diner, 231 Douglas will offer ornament decorating and cheesecake sampling; Jalapenos Restaurant, 7 Clock Tower Plaza will offer a craft for 3-10 year olds, music and Mexican dessert sampling; Kirkpatrick, Jones & Herzog, 19 S. Spring will offer a craft for children; La Quebrada, 50 N. Spring will offer Mariachi’s (music); Let’s Meet For Coffee, 109 E. Highland will offer coffee samples; Mobile Media, 231 Douglas will offer doughnuts; Montana Realty, 8 N. Douglas will offer face-painting and temporary tattoos by the St. Edward’s Crusader Youth Cheerleaders; Razor’s Edge, 55 Douglas will offer hot apple cider; ReRuns Thrift Store, 72 S. Grove will offer refreshments and a sale; Shockey Jewelers, 18 Douglas will offer champagne, refreshments and a sale; Tower Building—ground floor, Corner of Douglas and Chicago/Grove will offer photos with Santa for a fee; YWCA of Elgin, 220 E. Chicago will offer refreshments. Reflejo Latino Dance Group, 15 ½ Ziegler Court will offer dance workshops for 10-16 year olds at 2pm and 2:30pm and 4pm and 4:30pm; Individuals 17 years old and up may attend dance workshops at 3pm and 3:30pm. The Bartlett High School Choir and the Salvation Army will also offer special music all afternoon.
Area groups and downtown businesses and organizations begin decorating windows for the window decorating contest to the theme, “Holidays Around The World” Nov. 17- Dec. 1. Judging by popular vote begins on the day of the event, Dec. 2 and continues through Dec. 24. Windows will also be evaluated by a panel of judges on the day of the event. Votes by the public may be cast by picking up a ballot on the day of the event from the Downtown Neighborhood Association office on 2 Douglas or at any of the participating businesses. Additional information is available online The event is sponsored by Chase Bank, Elgin Toyota, and Nick’s Liquors.
If you are interested in more information on how to be part of the Downtown Neighborhood Association or would like to volunteer, please contact the office at 847-488-1456 or visit

Monday, November 06, 2006

Elgin on WTTW-Channel 11 on 11/28

WTTW-Channel 11 will air “The Fox River Valley and Chain o’ Lakes” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 28.

The show will feature the Watch Factory, the observatory and Walton Island.

Encore Airings of this Episode
Tuesday, November 28 at 9:30 pm
Sunday, December 10 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 10 at 10:00 pm

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Water Main Break on Grove

Some drivers may have had a few choice words for "the City" when they encountered Grove Ave closed during the Friday evening rush hour. You can take back those words, Public Works was just doing their job. A water main decided it was time to break. With Chicago and Highland down to one lane and the traffic signal work at every intersection, the traffic was backed up in all directions.

The good news is there will be less of these unexpected inconveniences as the five year project to replace all the water mains downtown gets started next week. The bad news is in order to do this there will be planned street closings in limited areas over the next five years.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Hemmens Shows x Four - November 7,9,10,11

There is a show for everyone next week at the Hemmens. For tickets call the box office at 847.931.5900.

- George Winston - Tuesday, November 7, 7:30pm (Solos on piano, guitar, harmonica, and piano dances)
- B.B. King - Thursday, November 9, 8pm (Need we say more about a Blues Legend?)
- Kathy Griffin - Friday, November 10, 8pm (An evening of laughs with this stand-up comedian) SOLD OUT
- Eric Burdon & The Animals - Saturday, November 11, 8pm (Say what British Invasion of the 60's)

Calling All Window Wonderland Decorators

This year’s theme “Holidays Around the World” will feature a wide array of beautifully decorated windows with an international flair in downtown Elgin. If you or your group would like to participate, simply fill out the FORM and fax it back to the DNA office at (847)488-1449 by Monday, November 6. Forms are available online at Window Wonderland form .

Window decorating will take place beginning November 17 and ending on Friday, Dec. 1. All windows must be ready for the big event on December 2. On December 2, a panel of judges will view all of the windows in the contest and will cast their vote for 1st and 2nd place winners in each category: Open (individuals/families/not-for-profits); Student (groups of children age 18 and younger); and Business. The public will also have an opportunity to cast their vote from Dec. 2 through Dec. 25 via ballots available on our web site and in a variety of locations throughout downtown Elgin. Any questions e-mail or call (847) 488-1456.

New Date for Start of Central Business District (CBD) Street Resurfacing

Central Business District (CBD) Street Resurfacing and Streetscape Program

Start Date for Central Business District Streetscape Program Rescheduled

Construction work on the utility upgrades associated with the first phase of the five year Central Business District Streetscape program has been re-scheduled to begin during the week of November 6. This work will consist of the installation of new water mains, hydrants and water services. Construction will now begin on North Grove Avenue at Highland Avenue. Work will proceed south to Chicago Street, east on Chicago Street to South Grove Avenue and then proceed south on South Grove to Prairie Street. The overall first phase of this project includes utility work on Grove Avenue, between Highland Avenue and Prairie Street, Fulton Street between Villa Street and Spring Street, and Spring Street between Chicago Street and Fulton Street/Grove Street.

The new start date of the construction and the change in the starting location was done to avoid conflict with the sewer separation work which is scheduled to be completed soon.

The nature of the utility construction in the downtown area will create many challenges. The construction will be planned and executed in order to maintain reasonable access during construction, and minimize disruption to the extent possible. During the project, an ongoing public involvement and outreach effort will be maintained to keep stakeholders and the general public informed including newsletters, updates, and project status reports via mailings/handouts and on the City’s website.

For further information, please contact Steve Pertzborn, Senior Engineer, at 847-931-5955.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fox River Renaissance Alliance Presentation

Several firms are making presentations to the Fox River Renaissance Alliance on Wednesday, November 1st at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove Avenue, Elgin, Il. The meeting starts at 1 p.m. and is open to the public.

The schedule is as follows:
1:00 pm - WRD Environmental
1:45 pm - Applied Ecological Services
2:30 pm - LRMG (Land Resource Management Group)
3:15 PM - Hitchcock Design

For more information please contact Denise Raleigh at 847-429-5981.

Link to information on the Fox River Renaissance Alliance. (This is a large file, be patient)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

PADS Site on Zoning and Subdivision Hearing Board Agenda

The new site for PADS is on the agenda of Zoning and Subdivision Hearing Board meeting on November 1, 2006 at 7 p.m. The board meets in the city council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 150 Dexter Ct. Elgin, IL 60120.

PADS has been trying to find a permenant location for several years but everytime a site is selected another roadblock is put up. This time the location is in an industrial area near Elgin Community College, 1730 Berkley St., south of U.S. 20 and west of McLean Boulevard.

Courier News article from October 20th.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Is This in our Future?

The following article struck a chord with me:

Hollywood Florida rejects $100,000 in incentives for Starbucks
By Richard Layman

There have been discussions regarding what will happen to our local home grown businesses as the new residential developments start to fill up and the retail spaces are occupied. Will the desire of some for national brand name retail overshadow the existing businesses that have survived the years of economic decline and the current impact of construction disrupting their operations. It has been suggested that funding be made available to existing businesses to help offset the negative impact during the extensive construction. The progress is certainly welcome and the end result is sure to be worth the sacrifice but don't forget those who paved the way.

Riverside Deck Proposals

Two proposals for the renovation of the Riverside Deck were presented to the city council on Wednesday, October 25th. Hitchcock Design Group and Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Planning Group each presented three concepts.

All three proposals from the HOK Planning Group involved reuse of the existing pilings. One had several sections that extended over the river using the existing pilings while the rest would be removed. Another configured the sections in levels that stepped down toward the river. The last one connected the sections with a series of landscaped areas that reached down towards the river. All three included a fishing pier at the south end.

The Hitchcock Design Group also reused the pilings in two of it's proposals but removed them all in a third design that didn't involve any sections extending out into the river. Instead they proposed using the money saved to fund the pedestrian bridge at Prairie Street that was in the Riverfront Master Plan. It was pointed out that if this route was taken and all the pilings were removed, it was very doubtful that the city would ever be allowed to have a structure that extended into the river in the future. Their first proposal reused all the existing pilings while replacing the deck surface and included a covered structure located half way between Highland and Prairie. The second design replaced the permanent structure with several areas where temporary structures could be placed during the warmer seasons. A boardwalk which sloped down towards the river was added in this design to allow more access to the river. All three proposals involved environmentally friendly designs for the water runoff from the street and pedestrian areas.

The Courier News and Daily Herald articles are linked below.
2 firms unveil plans for Fox deck
Design firms pitch ideas for Riverside rehab

You can view the presentations on the City of Elgin Government Access Channel 17:
Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday at 1:00 p.m.
Friday at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

What are your thoughts?

Water Main Break Repair on Sunday

City crews will repair a water main break in the central business district beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday, October 29th.
"We understand that this is a tremendous inconvenience. We will do everything we can to ensure the work is handled as expeditiously as possible," said Public Works Director John Loete. The repair will require crews to shut off water throughout the area on East Chicago Street from the Spring Street Parking Deck to across State Street (Illinois 31). Water service also will be turned off from Grove Avenue and DuPage Court to the Elgin Tower Building. Water service should be restored by 3 p.m. There will be traffic signs to better direct motorists through the area. Residents and guests also will be unable to park on East Chicago Street, from Spring to Villa streets.
For more information, please call (847) 931-3160.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Central Business District Streetscape Program Construction to Begin

Phase 1 of the five year streetscape program begins next week with the underground work.

Construction work on the utility upgrades associated with the first phase of the five year Central Business District Streetscape program is scheduled to begin during the week of October 30. This work will consist of the installation of new water mains, hydrants and water services with work starting on South Grove Avenue, at Chicago Street and proceeding south. The overall first phase project will include utility work on Grove Avenue, between Highland Avenue and Prairie Street, Fulton Street between Villa Street and Spring Street, and Spring Street between Chicago Street and Fulton Street/Grove Street.

The nature of the utility construction in the downtown area will create many challenges. The construction will be planned and executed in order to maintain reasonable access during construction, and minimize disruption to the extent possible. During the project, an ongoing public involvement and outreach effort will be maintained to keep stakeholders and the general public informed including newsletters, updates, and project status reports via mailings/handouts and on the City’s website.

The construction work on Chicago Street is part of a multi-year sewer separation project for all of Elgin. It was moved up in the schedule so it wouldn't interfere with the streetscape work.

For further information, please contact Steve Pertzborn, Senior Engineer, at 847-931-5955.

UPDATE: The project start date has been changed to November 6th so it doesn't conflict with the ongoing sewer separation work.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Five Year Streetscape Plan

The City of Elgin has engaged the services of TranSystems Corporation and DLK Civic Design to provide design services for water main and water service replacement, streetscape amenities construction and street resurfacing. The CBD Streetscape Improvement Project is in the City’s current five-year master plan with $15.5 million budgeted for utility and streetscape work.

Three public meetings have been held to collect input on sidewalk materials, trees and plantings and pedestrian access. The following links are the materials presented at the October 17th meeting:


The Streetscape Master Plan is in the works and will be presented at the fourth public meeting.

This is the schedule:
2006 Underground, 2007 Surface: Sidewalk, curb and gutter and street reconstruction/resurfacing on sections of Grove, Spring and Fulton.

2007 Underground, 2008 Surface: Chicago Street from State to Center, Spring Street from Chicago to Highland, and DuPage Street from Spring to Center.

2008 Underground, 2009 Surface: Douglas Street from Chicago to Symphony, Symphony Way from Douglas to Dundee, and Division Street from Douglas to Center.

2009 Underground, 2010 Surface: Highland Avenue from State to Center, Grove Street from Highland to City Hall, and Center Street from Dexter to Kimball.

2010 Underground, 2011 Surface: Spring Street from Highland to Kimball and Dexter Avenue from City Hall to Center.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Riverside Deck Presentation

Two proposals for the renovation of the Riverside Deck will be presented to the city council at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Wednesday, October 25th at 5:00 p.m. Please note the early starting time and get there on time, the presentation is the first item on the agenda. Hitchcock Design Group and Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum Planning Group are the two design firm competing for the project. The firms are required to present three concepts, one with access to the riverfront, one without access and one concept of the firm’s choosing. This project will link the riverwalk improvements north of Highland Avenue with the recently completed section south of Prairie Street at a cost estimated to be 10 million dollars.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Elgin Community Network (ECN) Podcasts

The ECN Community Builder online show is a wonderful vehicle for Elgin. It is fulfilling ECN's vision of service to the community. The ECN has limited funds, and therefore the promotion of this show lies very much in the hands of volunteers and supporters. You can listen to or download programs at:

The September edition includes Norma Miess, Executive Director of the Downtown Neighborhood Association. She discusses how the DNA focuses on cohesively bringing together the business community for a stronger downtown.

When you go to the website you will see a pod button next to the title of the show. Click the pod button and it will bring up your media player and play the program. Click the right mouse button to download the program so you can listen whenever and wherever you please. For information on the show or to help please contact Gary Joy at 847-628-9717.

The Elgin Community Network is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to:
- Supporting communication, education and collaboration between Elgin neighborhoods, city council and staff.
- Encouraging residents to be involved in their neighborhood and community.

The Community Builder covers useful topics, shares information and builds on our community's success.

2006 Illinois Main Street Conference

Don't miss the Illinois Main Street conference in Waukegan on November 14th and 15th.
Elgin's own Paul Bednar will be presenting a session on Block Walks.

Register Online for the Conference
Registration Sheet for Printing Out
Agenda and More Info (.pdf file)

This just in. Elgin is a finialist in the following four categories of the 2006 Illinois Main Street Awards:
  • Design Committee Project - Block Walk Report
  • Special Event or Festival - Gail Borden Library's GIANT Exhibit
  • Partnership Development - DNA & Judson College Partnership
  • Heritage Tourism Activity - Cinco de Mayo Festival & Parade
The winners will be announced at the Lt. Governor’s Awards for Downtown Revitalization dinner on November 15th in Waukegan.

You won’t want to miss this year’s awards event rivaling the Oscars and the Tony Awards! The sounds of the Harrison Bankhead Trio will serenade you during the reception with hors d’ oeuvres and cash bar. Then you’ll be escorted to your seat in the theatre where the celebration will continue. Lt. Governor Pat Quinn will present the Awards for Excellence in Downtown Revitalization and recognize new and outstanding Main Street communities. Everyone is a star this night when the curtain rises and dinner is served on the Genesee Theatre stage. Semi-formal attire requested. Dinner is $50 make your reservation at Register Online for the Conference Registration or Registration Sheet for Printing Out.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

E. Chicago Down to One Lane for Two Weeks

Chicago Street, from Douglas to Spring, will be reduced to only one lane for about two weeks starting October 16th. Parking along Chicago Street will be prohibited, however, access to businesses will be available. The construction is part of the City of Elgin’s $1.3 million 2006 Combined Sewer Separation Project approved by Council last year. The Combined Sewer Separation Program will incrementally separate wastewater and storm water sewers over the next 15 years. For more info contact Steve Pertzborn, the City’s Senior Engineer, at (847) 931-5964.

Illinois Main Street Architects to Visit Downtown Elgin

The Downtown Neighborhood Association has invited IHPA architects to conduct a workshop, offer design advice, and lead a building maintenance tour for business and property owners.

Architects from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), working through the Illinois Main Street program, will be in Elgin all day on Tuesday, October 24 to provide businesses, agencies, and building owners design assistance through presentations, one-on-one sessions, and a walking tour. The state architects provide these services at no charge to Illinois Main Street communities like Elgin.

Downtown Neighborhood Association’s (DNA) Design Committee co-chairs Eric Pepa, Paul Bednar, Betsy Couture, and Dave Segel have worked with the Illinois Main Street architects to develop a full day of design assistance for Downtown Elgin.

8 a.m. - Sessions on visual merchandising and low-cost design improvements at the DNA offices at 2 Douglas Avenue. Coffee and pastries will be served.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. - One-on-one design assistance sessions with downtown business and property owners. Any interested Downtown Elgin business owner, agency or property owner can schedule an appointment by calling the DNA in advance at (847) 488-1456.

12 p.m. - Lunch

4:30 p.m. - The IHPA staff will discuss proper maintenance and repair of historic downtown buildings. There are several maintenance issues that, if addressed early, can save building owners tremendous amounts of time and money in the long run. This well-illustrated presentation identifies common causes of deterioration in historic building materials and examines necessary and appropriate repair techniques.

5:30 p.m. - IHPA staff will lead an hour-long tour of buildings in downtown Elgin, focusing on positive aspects of storefronts and areas where conditions might be improved. The public is welcome to attend the morning and afternoon sessions and tour. Packets will be available that discuss the various grants and tax credits available for downtown buildings from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and from the City of Elgin. In addition, information will be available regarding design assistance from the IHPA, the City of Elgin, and the Downtown Neighborhood Association.

To RSVP for any of these sessions please contact DNA at (847) 488-1456 by October 20.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lao-American Organization Open House

I had the pleasure of attending the Lao-American Organization of Elgin Open House on Saturday. They have opened an office in the Professional Building. Their mission is:

"Unite and provide assistance to all people of Lao national origin, living in the Greater Elgin Area and it's surrounding cities, with emphasis on educational and Social-cultural factors as a focal point."

The organization has been in existence since 1996. They plan to use the office to hold classes and workshops to fulfill their mission. After learning about the group it was time for lunch so we went up to the top floor of the Professional Building for a buffet prepared by the members of LAOE. What could be better. Good food, great company and a spectacular view.

Lao-American Organization of Elgin, Inc.
164 Division St., Suite 508
Elgin, IL 60120

(847) 695-4505

Downtown Elgin Blog on the Front Page of the Courier News

New media profiled on old media, "Elgin wired up on the Web". The Downtown Elgin and Elginite blogs were on the front page of the Monday, October 16th Courier News. I was interviewed by Kent Green several weeks ago. It's good to see the story, but I didn't expect the placement it got.

Nothing like vistors to inspire you to straighten up. My posting has been very light lately.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Downtown Streetscape Meeting

When: Tuesday, October 17th at 7 p.m.
Where: The Centre of Elgin
100 Symphony Way
Elgin, IL 60120
What: Elgin business owners and residents are invited to attend a third informational meeting about proposed sidewalk and street improvements for the downtown.

“The CBD Streetscape Improvement Project will enhance the appearance and condition of sidewalk areas and street resurfacing,” said John Loete, Elgin’s Public Works Director. “There have been two meetings with the community that have helped direct our efforts and we’re now ready to present a preliminary plan.”

The project’s utility work has been completed on Grove Avenue, Fulton Street and part of Spring Street and includes water system replacement and repairs to the sanitary and storm sewer systems.

To oversee the CBD Streetscape Improvement Project, the City of Elgin has engaged the services of TranSystems Corporation and DLK Civic Design to provide design services for water main and water service replacement, streetscape amenities construction and street resurfacing.

“The CBD Streetscape Improvement Project is in the City’s current five-year master plan with $15.5 million budgeted for utility and streetscape work,” said Loete. “Another $2 million is expected to be budgeted when the City’s new five-year master plan is completed in 2011.”

Following completion of the Streetscape Master Plan, the sidewalk, curb and gutter and street reconstruction/resurfacing on sections of Grove, Spring and Fulton will be completed in 2007. The balance of the proposed phasing is as follows:

2007 Underground, 2008 Surface: Chicago Street from State to Center, Spring Street from Chicago to Highland, and DuPage Street from Spring to Center.

2008 Underground, 2009 Surface: Douglas Street from Chicago to Symphony, Symphony Way from Douglas to Dundee, and Division Street from Douglas to Center.

2009 Underground, 2010 Surface: Highland Avenue from State to Center, Grove Street from Highland to City Hall, and Center Street from Dexter to Kimball.

2010 Underground, 2011 Surface: Spring Street from Highland to Kimball and Dexter Avenue from City Hall to Center.

“The nature of the underground and streetscape construction will create certain challenges in the downtown area,” said Loete. “As a result, construction will be planned and executed in order to maintain reasonable access during construction, and minimize disruption to the extent possible.

“Residents, business owners and other stakeholders will be kept informed about the project through including public meetings, newsletters, updates, and project status reports via mailings/handouts and on the City’s website,” continued Loete. “We want to ensure everyone knows what to expect.”

For more information, contact Loete at (847) 931-6001.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Downtown Streetscape Design Charrette

Central Business District (CBD) Street Resurfacing and Streetscape Program
Public Information Session #2
Design Charette

The Centre – Heritage Ballroom
100 Symphony Way
Elgin, IL 60120
August 17, 2006
7:00 p.m.

Join the City and representatives of the design team (TranSystems and DLK Civic Design) to help shape and develop concepts for the Central Business District (CBD) Street Resurfacing and Streetscape Program.

This meeting is the second meeting in a series of public meetings that will be held throughout this project to provide an opportunity for property and business owners, tenants, residents, and other interested stakeholders to be involved through the design and construction of this exciting five-year program. The first public meeting was held on July 27th and provided general information of the project along with an inventory and analysis of the CBD from a surface and appearance perspective.

The purpose of this second public meeting is to present initial concepts for streetscaping options developed by the consultant team. A brief presentation of these concepts will be given followed by a breakout working session. Your comments on these initial concepts will aid the design team in progressing these concepts into final design and construction. We hope that you can join us for what promises to be an exciting, collaborative, and informative workshop.

Project Background
The City is currently experiencing considerable redevelopment of its older downtown Central Business District (CBD). With the numerous redevelopment efforts that are taking place, the need to repair, update and enhance the sidewalks and streets has become evident. It is envisioned that the improvements would include the replacement of sidewalks and curb and gutter with new ones that include paver streetscape accents, planters with irrigation, decorative street lights, street furniture, additional street trees and repaving of the streets.
The look would be similar to that found on Douglas Avenue, Grove Avenue, and Symphony Way around the The Centre. In addition to the above work, the underground utilities will also need to be reconditioned. The water main and water services in the CBD are old, buried deeper than necessary due to street grade changes over the years and not easily repairable. The storm and sanitary sewers have been inspected and repaired in the past but also need to be evaluated and any recommended repairs addressed. Lining of all sewer mains is budgeted for 2006 by the annual Public Works contract.
To oversee the CBD Improvement Project, the City of Elgin has engaged the services of TranSystems and DLK Civic Design to provide design services for water main and water service replacement, streetscape amenities construction and street resurfacing. Both the surface and underground work will have a high impact on the residents and businesses in the area. For this reason, construction will need to be well planned and executed in order to maintain reasonable access during construction. The general plan for the program is for the utility work to occur the year before the surface improvements. The project has been laid out such that surface improvements would begin in 2007 and be concluded by the end of 2011 construction season. In order to maintain this proposed schedule, the underground utility work for the first year of the surface improvements must be done in 2006.
Because of the impact on the residents and businesses in the area, the consultant team will provide a substantial public relations/information effort during the course of the project. This will likely include frequent public meetings, newsletters, updates and project status reports via mailings/handouts and on the City’s website during design and construction of the project.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

August Out to Lunch

When: Monday, August 28th at 12 p.m.
Where: Prairie Rock Brewing Company
127 S. Grove Ave
Elgin, Illinois 60120

The Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin presents Out to Lunch, an opportunity to explore new restaurants and meet new people. Our guest for August is Jeff Swoboda, Chief of Operations, Elgin Police Department. His duties include ROPE, Community Relations/Crime prevention, Crime Free Housing and Nuisance Abatement.

Choice of a Club or Pulled Chicken sandwich with a fruit cup and the Chef's choice of dessert. $8.00 including a soft drink. Tax and gratuity not included.

RSVP to (847)488-1456 by August 25th.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Out to Dinner at Al's Cafe and Creamery

When: Tuesday, August 8th at 6 p.m.
Al's Cafe
43 DuPage Ct.
Elgin, IL 60120

Join us for a night of networking and dining with guest speakers Kriss Knowles from the Small Business Development Center and Jim Kendall, a marketing consultant. We will be discussing the pros and cons of marketing in Downtown Elgin.

How: Please RSVP by 5 pm on Monday August 7th by calling 847.488.1456.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July Out to Lunch

DNA’s Out to Lunch
Al's Cafe & Creamery
43 Dupage Court
Elgin, IL 60120

When: Monday, July 31st at Noon

Your choice of sandwich plus pop and a chocolate chip cookie for your sweet tooth for $7.50
Chicken Teriyaki
Char-grilled teriyaki marinated chicken breast, topped with melted Muenster cheese and grilled pineapple, served a toasted deluxe bun with lettuce and mayonnaise.
Eastside Roast Beef
Slice roast beef, sautéed onions, green peppers and mushrooms, melted Colby cheese on a bun with horseradish spread on the side.

Our guest will be the Rev. Neris Diaz-Cabello, the new EHN president and the Chaplain at Sherman Hospital.
RSVP at (847)488-1456 for your summer lunch and business networking by July 28th!!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Kickoff Meeting for the Downtown Streetscape Improvement Project

When: Thursday, July 27th ay 7 p.m.
Where: The Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way, Heritage Ballroom
What: The first informational meeting will be to meet with the public to explain the scope of the project and get some preliminary input on the types of improvements residents and business owners would like to see.

The city has engaged TranSystems Corporation and DLK Civic Design to provide design services for water main and water service replacement, streetscape amenities construction and street resurfacing. The consultant team will develop a master plan for the streetscape components of the improvements. There will be multiple opportunities for public involvement. The master plan will be prepared for the entire Downtown before the construction process begins in 2007 and the master plan will incorporate public input.

• 2007 underground, 2008 surface: Chicago Street from State to Center, Spring Street from Chicago to Highland, and DuPage Street from Spring to Center.
• 2008 underground, 2009 surface: Douglas Avenue from Chicago to Symphony Way, Symphony from Douglas to Dundee Avenue, and Division Street from Douglas to Center Street.
• 2009 underground, 2010 surface: Highland Avenue from State Street (Illinois 31) to Center, Grove from Highland to city hall, and Center from Dexter Street to Kimball Street.
• 2010 underground, 2011 surface: Spring from Highland to Kimball and Dexter Avenue from city hall to Center.

Link to the July 22nd Courier News article.

Please participate in this process so your input can be part of the plan. For more information, contact John Loete at (847) 931-6001.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

June Out to Lunch

When: Monday, June 26th, 2006 at 12 pm
Where: Cafe Magdalena
13 Douglas Ave
Elgin, IL
What: Guest speaker Councilman John Walters. Lunch is a pasta buffet for $7 including soda.
How: To RSVP call 847.488.1456 before June 23rd.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Harvest Market is Back!

Harvest Market is back for 2006. Every Thursday until September 28th from 12 pm to 6 pm in the Civic Center Parking lot at Highland and Grove (across from the post office).

Fresh vegetables, bread, flowers, plants, French pastries, honey and more...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Brewfest 2006

Brewfest is back for 2006. Join us on June 16th and 17th on Prairie St. in front of the Prairie Rock Brewing Company, 127 S. Grove, Elgin IL.

Elgin 1440 Photography Exhibit


The Elgin 1440 Photography Exhibit featuring the works of 69 different photographers taken May 2, 2006 is currently on display at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 North Grove. The 175 photo collection will be on display on the main art wall and on the second floor in Adult Services through July 10.

Elgin Post Office Book Drive

The Elgin Post Office is hosting a book drive for the Elgin community, from now through July 31st. Drop off new or gently used books at the Elgin Post office’s main office, 66 Grove Court. They will be distributed to families in the Elgin community. For details call 847.741.0725.

June Out to Dinner

Out to Dinner
What: An opportunity to network with Downtowners and meet with Councilman David Kaptain
When: Tuesday, June 13th at 6 pm
Where: Bangkok House & Shanghai Restaurant
11 Douglas Ave
Elgin, IL
How: RSVP to 847.488.1456 or email by June 12th
Cost: $12 for a buffet dinner

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

News From New Orleans

The National Main Street Conference is in New Orleans this week. Norma Miess and Jennifer Benson are representing Elgin and have these thoughts to share.

French Quarter is Open!!!
If there was only one idea I could convey and get across to the readers of this blog about the status of the French Quarter in New Orleans is that it's open and waiting for ya'll to visit and enjoy. Though touched by Hurricane Katrina last August, it did not have flood damage but only wind damage. Nine months of clean-up and repair in this area have left only some buildings in disrepair as far as some roofs, windows, and trees damaged and new trees being planted. After talking to three different business they all mentioned that businesses that aren't open because the tourists are not here. With tourists believing the general hype that there is nothing open and that everything here is flattened and destroyed. The French Quarter still has most of the vibrancy that I remember from when I was here in 2003. So don't postpone your plans in coming to the Big Easy!!!

National Main Street Conference
With 1200 attendees, not counting all of the LA staff, National Trust staff and speakers, this conference has been successful in staying with New Orleans as it's host city through all of the tragedy. Though a main reason for attending conferences is the sessions, there is also the award ceremony, the opening and closing programs, tours, clean-ups, networking and the Main Street Expo. Along with fellow Illinois Main Street executive directors (Antioch, Waukegan, Libertyville and others), we were able to network with programs from Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, Maine and National, State and Preservation agencies. At the Expo we ran into streetscape vendors of light poles, street furniture, banners and holiday decorations.

The Opening Reception was held at Jackson Square, a beautiful historical city park right in the heart of the French Quarter. A great chance to enjoy networking with the attendees from around the country.

Highlights at the Opening Session included a national trends survey naming 5 top challenges for Downtown revitalization organizations:
  • Small business survival
  • Funds
  • Development issues
  • Competition for volunteers
  • Rebuilding infrastructure
Other emerging trends affecting the revitalization field are the shifting concept of "community", diversifying demographics, and the lack of novelty or excitement.

Mitchell J. Landrieu, Lt. Governor of Louisiana reported on the relief efforts and the need for his office to address the effort with reduced staff.

Some of the sessions we participated in are:
* Asset-based Economic Development - Heritage tourism
* Preserving and Promoting a Sense of Place
* Effective Downtown Marketing through the Web
* Developing and Effective Pledge Campaign
* Target Markets & Events Calendar Development

Photos and more reports will be posted upon Norma and Jennifer's return.

Budget Roundtable Tonight

Don't forget the Budget Roundtable Discussion tonight.
It is hosted by the City of Elgin and Elgin Community Network. The Mayor and City Council Members will be on hand to speak with stakeholders to gather community input on the upcoming 2007 Budget process. To reserve your spot please contact RuthAnne Hall at 847-931-6104 or email.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association will be participating and suggesting a joint marketing effort between the city and businesses to promote downtown Elgin. Arlington Heights has run a similiar campaign for several years.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Tower Building Eagle

Photo by Kirk Lawler

"An eagle looks to the sun...
One of the many noteworthy architectural details of the Elgin Tower building. Completed in 1929, this example of the Art Deco style is still Elgin's tallest building."

If you'd like a print of this photo, stop by the DNA office at 2 Douglas and it can be yours for a mere $15. While you're there, take a few minutes to view the other photos of downtown Elgin provided by Kirk Lawler.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Maps on the City of Elgin Web Site

Various maps are available on the city of Elgin web site.

Some downtown maps of note.
Neighborhood Association Map
Enterprise Zone Map
TIF District Map
Capital Improvement Project Map
Current & Proposed Development Downtown Map

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Chicago White Sox World Series Trophy Tour

Get your photo taken with the World Series trophy and capture the memory of a lifetime!

When: Tuesday, June 6th from 3 pm to 6 pm
Where: The Centre of Elgin

  • Please provide your own camera. Make sure to bring extra batteries!
  • We request a $10 per party donation to Chicago White Sox Charities. Cash donations only, please.
  • Access to the Trophy is on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • We recommend arriving early. Wait times have been exceeding one hour. If you have small children, we suggest bringing a small activity to keep them engaged.
  • We will end the line once the "wait" time exceeds the end time of the event

    For more information, please call 312-674-5197

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I Spy Downtown - Elgin Picture Riddles

I Spy Downtown - Elgin Picture Riddles

Search for the architectural details pictured
in the flyer. Write the address of the buildings in
the spaces provided. All entries receive a
free "Exploring Elgin" coloring book upon
completion. Correctly completed entries will
be entered into a raffle for prizes from area

Entries are due at the Tower Building at
2 Douglas Ave. from 8:30a - 5:00p M-F;
or through the mail slot by June 9th,2006.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Pressure Washing of Parking Decks

Alliance Window Cleaning will be pressure washing the parking deck at
Douglas Ave. and Symphony Way beginning at 9:30 p.m. Friday May 26th.
The contractors are recommending that all vehicles be removed from the

The company will be power washing all City parking decks over the next
few weeks. Signs will be posted on the days prior to cleaning. If there
are any questions or concerns please call the Elgin Public Works
facility at 847-697-3160.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Main Street Showcase

Yesterday, I spent the day in the atrium of the Thompson Center promoting Elgin. Main Street representatives from Batavia, Genoa, Libertyville, Lombard, Pontiac, Prophetstown and Waukegan were spreading the word that there is life in the downtowns of cities of all sizes.

Some of the reasons people stopped to chat.
  • Three people asked about the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and took brochures (None of them knew we had a symphony)
  • One was considering a move to Elgin and another visitor's daughter had just moved here.
  • Two people had recently stopped in Elgin while biking.
  • A couple from South Elgin commented on the improvements.

Links to the materials.

Downtown Directory

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Out to Lunch Photos, April and May

Akina's on April 24th, 2006

El Rincon de Pastigel Restaurant on May 22nd, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fresh Coat of Paint on City's Web Site

The city of Elgin's web site has a new look. The content is the same but the colors, photos and logo have changed.

City seeks National Night Out group participation

The Elgin Police Department and the National Association of Town Watch will sponsor local participation in the 23rd Annual National Night Out crime prevention celebration on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
National Night Out is seen as an opportunity to build neighborhood unity and strengthen police-community partnerships, heighten crime awareness, and generate support and participation for local anti-crime programs. Police say it also is a chance to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Neighborhood Watch groups and associations are encouraged to participate in this year's National Night Out by sponsoring a block party on Aug. 1 from 6 to 9 p.m. Last year, more than 40 neighborhoods joined in the effort to make it a successful event.

To register a neighborhood for National Night Out 2006, people should call the police Department at (847) 289-2626. All registrations must be submitted no later than Friday, June 23, to be recognized by the city.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Memorial Day Activities

Don't forget to honor those who have given their lives for our freedom. The true purpose of Memorial Day.

Elgin Marine Corp League and Northern Kane County Viet NOW Floral Tribute
Time: 9:45 a.m.
Location: Highland Avenue Bridge

Or later on attend the ceremony at Bluff City Cemetery. Get there early, the event is well attended.
Elgin Patriotic Memorial Association Program
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Bluff City Cemetery

No need to cook, breakfast and lunch can be had at the:
Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast
Enjoy all-you-can-eat pancakes!
Time: 8:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Location: Hemmens Cultural Center, Lower Level
Cost: $5 per person, tickets will be available on Memorial day

Outdoor Exhibition Group's 6th Annual Rib Fest
Enjoy food, drinks, music and children's activities. Event is free to the public. To enter the competition or for more information, call Milt Evans at 847-742-8736.
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Location: Walton Island

Feel competitive?
Try the 29th Annual Elgin Valley Fox Trot
5K Race, 10 Mile Race and Family Fun Walk and Corporate Challenge. Race starts at 8:00 a.m. sharp in front of City Hall.

Check the City of Elgin web site for more information.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Design Competition for the Veterans Memorial Park

The Veteran’s Memorial Park Committee has developed a design competition to seek qualified proposals for a veteran’s memorial which will be the main feature of the park. This competition will result in the selection of a design proposal that will be used to create the veteran’s memorial.

Submission of design proposals to the committee are due June 15, 2006
Selection of the winning proposal is on August 30, 2006

This competition is open to all interested parties. All qualified proposals will be considered. The winning design proposal selected by the Elgin City Council will receive a $10,000 Award. The memorial site parameters are listed in the design packets that will be available to the public at City Hall the receptionist desk or you can download from the link.
For additional information please contact Sally Rasmussen at 847-931-5939.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Today is Syttende Mai (17th of May)

May 17 is Norwegian Constitution Day, or grunnlovsdag, commonly known as "Syttende Mai." Syttende Mai (literally, "17th of May") is a celebration of the day in 1814 when Norway's constitution was signed in the town of Eidsvoll, Norway.
Children's parades with an abundance of flags form the central elements of the celebration. So wave a Norwegian flag and eat some lutefisk. Never heard of lutefisk, well the direct translation is lye fish. My personal experience with it was as a Christmas Eve tradition. I never did eat it for two reasons. First, the smell and second, the fact that my parents had to use stainless steel utensils because the silverware tarnished upon contact with the lutefisk.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

May Out to Lunch

Date: May 22nd
Time: 12 pm
Location: El Pastigel Rincon, 154 E. Chicago St. Elgin, IL
- Our guest speaker is Shari Matthews Huizar, the Executive Director from Centro de Informacion. The price is $7 including soda. Please RSVP to 847.488.1456 by May 19th.

New Drive-Up Window at the Library

The Gail Borden Public Library is very pleased to offer the new drive-up service. Customers may call ahead to request books, DVDs, music CDs, recorded books and CD Roms for pick up at the drive-up window. To ensure prompt service, customers are asked to allow 2 hours to process requests and to limit requests to 5 items. Customers may call (847) 742-2411 to request drive-up service. Customers will be asked to come inside for library card registration and payment for fines or lost materials.

Behind-the-Scenes Museum Tour

Celebrate International Museum Day with a Behind-the-Scenes Museum Tour!
Let your curiosity take you behind the scenes at Elgin Historical Museum, 360 Park St. Tours will be conducted on May 17th at 1 PM, 3 PM, and 5 PM. Advance regstration recommended. For additional information contact the Old Main Museum at 847-742-4248.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

How Far Does Our Web Presence Reach?

The Internet exposes life in Elgin, IL to the world. The vast majority of visitors to the DNA's web site and blog are from the Fox Valley but every week there are hits from other states and other countries. Today I took note of a visitor from Cote d'Ivoire. Now it has been many years since my last geography test but I still recognize most countries listed in the log but this one stood out so I did a quick Google search to enlighten me. These are the facts on Cote d'Ivoire according to the CIA. Go to the link for all the details.

Cote d'Ivoire
Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Ghana and Liberia
Area - Comparative: slightly larger than New Mexico
Climate: tropical along coast, semiarid in far north; three seasons - warm and dry (November to March), hot and dry (March to May), hot and wet (June to October)
Terrain: mostly flat to undulating plains; mountains in northwest
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Gulf of Guinea 0 m highest point: Mont Nimba 1,752 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron ore, cobalt, bauxite, copper, gold, nickel, tantalum, silica sand, clay, cocoa beans, coffee, palm oil, hydropower
Population: 17,654,843
Note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)
Economy - overview: Cote d'Ivoire is among the world's largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products and weather conditions.

Now if I had studied French it wouldn't have taken me until this point for the light bulb to go off and to realize that Cote d'Ivoire was formerly known as the Ivory Coast. The Google translation is Dimension Ivory, so maybe someone that did study French can comment on the translation.

If the person who viewed our site from Cote d'Ivoire happens to read this, please post a comment so we know the circuitous (I had to use the dictionary for this one) path that lead you to us.

Anyone else who uses the web to keep up with What's Happening Here or just happened to land here, please post a comment to let us know where you are located and what you were looking for.
It would interesting to hear from our regular visitors from Arizona, France and Texas.

Police Officer Memorial Service

The Elgin Police Department is hosting the Annual Police Officer Memorial Service Monday, May 15th at 2:30 pm. It will be held in front of the police station at 151 Douglas Ave. The service is held annually to pay respect to officers who were killed in the line of duty locally and across the country as well as those members who have passed away during the past year.

The week of May 14th through May 22nd is National Police Week.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Preservation Month Activities - May 12 to May 18

“Historic Visions” A Gallery Walk in Downtown Elgin
The Downtown Neighborhood Association invites you to a special gallery walk May 17th from 5pm to 9pm showcasing Elgin’s vibrant history, as various artists - Elgin Area Historical Society, Keith French, Kirk Lawler, Warren Mogler, and Robert Winner - share their vision of historic preservation at Elgin in several Downtown locations:
Hines Building at 24 Douglas Ave.
The Elgin Tower Building at 2 Douglas Ave.
Pastigel at 154 E. Chicago Street
Elgin Books at 209 E. Chicago St
Kirkpatrick, Jones & Sharf Insurance at 19 S. Spring St.
Attendees may enter a free raffle for a framed architectural detail in Downtown Elgin courtesy of Artistic Framing and Supplies and professional photographer Kirk Lawler. This event is organized by the Downtown Neighborhood Association's Design Committee as part of the Preservation Month activities and in an effort to promote the rich and historic architecture of Downtown Elgin. For more information, please call (847)488-1456 or visit

I Spy Downtown... An Architectural Hunt for Kids
Bring the whole family in a search of architectural details throughout the various buildings in Downtown Elgin. Enjoy the unique historic atmosphere on an ongoing self guided treasure hunt as part of the Preservation Month activities. Find the "I Spy Downtown" flier at the Gail Borden Public Library (270 N. Grove), at Al’s Café & Creamery (43 Dupage Court), and the Downtown Neighborhood Association's office ( 2 Douglas Avenue). Completed entries can be returned at 2 Douglas Avenue between M-F 8:30 - 5:00pm and will receive a FREE “Exploring Elgin” coloring book. Correct entries will be entered into a raffle for prizes from Al’s Café & Creamery, Elgin Area Historical Society, Elgin Books, and photographer Kirk Lawler. Don't miss it! The deadline for entries is June 9th. This event is organized by the Downtown Neighborhood Association's Design Committee in an effort to promote the rich and historic architecture of Downtown Elgin. For more information, please call (847)488-1456 or visit

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sell to the City

Do you have an Elgin business that is interested in selling your product to the city? Then this is an opportunity for you.

The City of Elgin is hosting a vendor fair for their employees. This will be an opportunity for Elgin businesses to showcase their products and services to the City employees. Every Elgin business is eligible but due to space constraints selected vendors will be chosen based on response, vendor variety and employees' needs.
The goal is to provide businesses access to City employees as potential customers. It is recommended that participating vendors provide samples, offer coupons or discounted rates for individual employee purchase. There is no fee for participation in the event.
The event will be held on Tuesday June 27 from 10 am to 1 pm at The Centre Heritage Ballroom.
All interested merchants must complete an application and return it to Daina DeNye, City of Elgin Purchasing Department, 150 Dexter Court, Elgin IL 60120, fax (847) 931-5689, no later than June 6, 2006.
If you have any questions regarding this event, please email Daina Denye at or call 847-931-5604.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Construction on Riverside Drive and Grove Ave

Novak Construction, the General Contractor doing the construction on Riverside and Grove Streets will begin May 8, 2006. The work on Grove will require a large excavation in the public sidewalk along the west side of the street. The work will be done on the west half of the road from the center line toward the building requiring southbound lane closures during the day. Flagmen will be used to direct traffic in the remaining northbound lane and trench platting at night.

Please avoid the portion of Grove Avenue between Chicago and Spring if possible.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

This Weekend during Preservation Month, May 4 - May 6

Thursday, May 4
Mayor's Awards for Preservation
The Elgin Heritage Commission honors outstanding contributors to Elgin's heritage. Honorees have demonstrated their dedication to older architecture, neighborhoods and history.
Sponsored by the Elgin Heritage Commission.
Call Sarosh Saher at (847) 931-5943.
Location: Heritage Ballroom, The Centre of Elgin.
Time: 6:00pm to 9:00pm. (Ceremony at 7:00pm.)

Saturday, May 6
The Great Unveiling
Celebrate the 9th Annual Great Unveiling as neighborhood organizations sponsor the removal of substitute siding in an old fashioned barn raising atmosphere at two Elgin residences. Free volunteer labor and a monetary gift is provided to property owners that have applied to have the nonoriginal artificial siding removed from their historic homes. It's a busy day for all volunteers!
Sponsored by the Northeast Neighborhood Association (NENA) and Admirers of Beautiful Old Dwellings of Elgin (ABODE).
Contact Jeff Gill at (847) 468-1926 or Brian Anderson at (847) 741-1177.
Location: 856 North Spring St.
Time: 9:00am - noon. (lunch will be served)

Firefighters Memorial Service
Listed on the National Register of Historical Places, Elgin Fire Barn No.5 is the appropriate site for a memorial service and dedication ceremony to honor firefighters who died in the line of duty this past year and retirees from Elgin and nearby communities.
Sponsored by the Elgin Fire Department and Elgin Fire Barn No. 5.
Contact Timothy Ryan at (847) 931-6175.
Location: Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 at 533 St. Charles Street.
Time: 11:00am.

Walk it, See it, Feel it
An educational walking tour of West Elgin that will use history, stories, and hands-on experience to enhance participants knowledge of Elgin's development as a city. Learn about the influences that shaped development of West Elgin, the Kimball Family, pre-Civil War architecture, cobblestone buildings, the topography of the area, and the social changes that continue to influence this part of the city.
Sponsored by the Elgin Area Historic Society
Contact Mary Hill at (847) 695-9659 or
Location: 52 N. Crystal Street. Park on neighborhood streets.
Time: 1:00pm.

CInco de Mayo Carnival, Fest and Parade

Carnival and Fest
Rides, food vendors, entertainment, games, information booths and more!! The Fest will be from May 4th thru May 7th on the corner of N. Grove and Kimball in the old Gail Borden parking lot.

The hours are Thursday 5pm-10pm, Friday 5pm-11pm, Saturday 12pm-11pm , and Sunday 12pm-10pm. Unlimited ride specials will be on Thursday 5pm-9pm and Saturday and Sunday 12pm-4pm.

Saturday, May 6th at 10 am
The Cinco de Mayo parade will start at Fulton and Spring (between ECC Fountain Square Campus and the Fulton St. Parking garage). It will proceed North on Spring Street and turn West onto Symphony Way ending at the Fest location.

For more information call 847.488.1456

Friday, April 28, 2006

Hemmens 2006-2007 Season

The Hemmens 2006 - 2007 season was announced yesterday. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. May 24. Call (847) 931-5900 or visit for details. Read the April 28th Daily Herald article here.

•Rock band Survivor: 7 p.m. Aug. 8.
•Paramount’s LaserSpectacular featuring the music of Pink Floyd: 8 p.m. Sept. 23
•Chicago singer/songwriter Cathy Richardson: at 8 p.m. Sept. 29.
•Country star Phil Vassar: 8 p.m. Sept. 30.
•Glenn Miller Orchestra: 3 p.m. Oct. 1
•Political satirists Capitol Steps: 8 p.m. Oct. 13.
•Political satirist P.J. O’Rourke: 8 p.m. Oct. 14.
•Blues legend Bo Diddley: 8 p.m. Oct. 20.
•New age pianist George Winston: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7.
•Blues legend B.B. King: 8 p.m. Nov. 9.
•Comedian and actress Kathy Griffin: 8 p.m. Nov. 10.
•British Invasion seminal figure Eric Burdon & The Animals: 8 p.m. Nov. 11.
•Singer Kathy Mattea: 8 p.m. Nov. 17.
•Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch: 8 p.m. Nov. 18.
•Grammy-winning gospel, country and jazz group Aaron Neville Quartet featuring Charles Neville: Dec. 1.
•New age and world music from David Cullen, Will Ackerman, Philip Aaberg and Samite, of Windam Hill: 8 p.m. Dec. 2.
•Country group Oak Ridge Boys: 8 p.m. Dec. 16.

•Southern African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo: 8 p.m. Feb. 16
•Dancing illusionists MOMIX: 7 p.m. Nov. 25
•Celtic singer Natalie MacMaster: 7 p.m. March 11.
•Neil Simon’s play “Lost in Yonkers”: 8 p.m. March 23 and 24.
•Bluegrass act Cherryholmes: April 29
•Jim Peterik & World Stage, a concert with top musicians and songwriters celebrating Peterik’s 35-year career in music: 8 p.m. May 18

Seeking Artists

The American Association of University Women-Elgin branch is seeking artists to exhibit at the 47th annual Art Showcase of the Elgin Fine Arts Festival, Aug. 5-6, in Elgin's Civic Center Plaza. Only original work will be accepted. Entry deadline is May 1, or until all sites are filled. For an entry form, send a No. 10 SASE to Art Showcase, 602 Prospect St., Elgin, IL 60120.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Elgin Design Workshop

Attention all Elgin building owners!! Bring your building/business renovation project challenges, projecting sign ideas, and more in to discuss with professional designers and architects.

The workshop will be held on Thursday April 27th from 5pm-8pm at the Downtown Neighborhood Association office on the 1st floor of the Elgin Tower building at 2 Douglas Avenue.

Learn some basic renovation principles you can use on any project and then sign up for a FREE consultation with professionals to point you in the right direction and give you valuable advice.
This workshop is sponsored by the Downtown Neighborhood Association Design Committee. Call 847.488.1456 for more information.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Calling all Photographers, Project Elgin 1440

Project Elgin 1440 is calling on all photographers, amateur and professional, to document a single day in the life of Elgin on Tuesday, May 2.

In the attempt to capture the essence of life in Elgin, project Elgin 1440 seeks to exhibit photographs which will be taken from midnight to midnight on May 2nd within the city of Elgin. Photos will be publicly displayed in the city of Elgin.

The photos are on display until July 10th at the Gail Borden Public Library, 270 N. Grove.

Who may submit photographs?
Photographers 14 years and up.

What types of photographs are eligible for display?
You may submit any photographs of people, places, things or events taken in Elgin. We want the photographs to represent the essence of Elgin. We want your personal vision of Elgin. Photos must be suitable for public exhibition.

What format should the photographs be in?
Photographs may be either black and white or color. Prints must be no smaller than 8 x 10 inches and no larger than 11 x 14 inches. They must be matted or mounted on white card stock. Prints should be sent of digital files. Photos should not have been substantially manipulated.

What information should be provided with the photo?
On a label attached to the back of the photo, state the name, address and telephone number of the photographer. It must also include the location and exact time the photograph was taken. Any additional information about the photograph would be helpful.

How many photographs can be submitted?
You may submit no more than five (5) photographs.

When is the deadline?
No later than Monday, May 15 by 5:00 pm

Where do I send the photos?
Gil Feliciano
City of Elgin
150 Dexter Ct.
Elgin, IL 60120
Photos may also be delivered to City Hall.

Photos will not be returned. They will remain the sole property of the City of Elgin with all rights hereunto.

Any further questions may be directly addressed to
Gil Feliciano at 847-931-6019 or via email.

Links to other articles:
Courier News
Points of Life blog
Fox Valley Arts Council

Friday, April 21, 2006

City Interested in Unilever Site

The city is close to acquiring the Unilever site on State St. Read the Courier article. This would open up a view to the river from State St.
Link to Unilever site.
Link to parking lot on State.
Link to parking lot on Crystal.

The Moose Lodge across the street from the Unilever plant is also for sale. Read the Daily Herald article here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Gail Borden Library Presented Marshall Cavendish Excellence Award

The Gail Borden Public Library is the winner of the Marshall Cavendish Excellence in Library Programming Award for its project "GIANTS: African Dinosaurs," created by Project Exploration. Congratulations for a job well done. What's next?

See the details below:
"Marshall Cavendish Excellence in Library Programming Award named."American Library Association. 2006.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Downtown Elgin Blog is Back

We were identified as a Spam Blog by Bloggers automated system and have been out of commission since Friday. A human finally reviewed the blog and gave it the OK to go back online. See the email from Blogger below:

Hi there,
Thanks for writing in. It seems that your blog was mistakenly targeted by our automated spam classifying system. However, I have checked your blog and can verify that it complies with our Terms of Service. I was able to restore it to your account, so you should see it the next time you log in. I also whitelisted it so that this problem will not recur. Note that you will need to republish your blog in order for it to be visible online again. We apologize for any inconvenience this issue has caused.

Blogger Support

Thank you Sarah. I was feeling like Dave in 2001 A Space Odyssey. "Sorry Dave, I can't do that."

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Elginite - Elgin blog: Kresmery Art Center anyone?

The Elginite has two articles on an Art Center in downtown. He has done his homework on this one. I provided the links and full text below.

The Elginite - Elgin blog: Kresmery Art Center anyone?

Part One
The more I examine this picture of Kurt Kresmery's warehouse on the old Waverly House site, the more impressed I am. To me, it looks like an ingenius blend of several styles--Classical Revival, Commercial/Chicago, Deco perhaps. It's really beautiful. A little cleaning would make it look marvelous. Since the Courier's story seemed to suggest that Mr. Kresmery may still be considering ways to reuse the building, I thought I would mention one possible use: an art center. Many other communities have them. They're frequently housed in an old industrial building. And I think this building is particularly suited for the purpose.Have you been to Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago? I was there one time last year to examine their pottery studios and their ceramics. I was really impressed. It would be great to see something like that in Elgin.The benefits of an art center extend beyond those who use it. It can catalyze urban renewal. Look at what happened in South Florida:

ArtCenter was established in 1984 by a small group of artists who envisioned a potential cultural renaissance in what was then a blighted and vacant Lincoln Road. In partnership with the City of Miami Beach, the group obtained Federal Community Development Block Grant funds to acquire properties and create an artists' colony in 21 storefront spaces. Since then, ArtCenter has become the cultural and economic catalyst for the revitalization of the Lincoln Road neighborhood and South Beach. In 1986, the City of Miami Beach recognized the success of our founders' vision by designating ArtCenter's three-block area as the Lincoln Road Arts District.
Today, Lincoln Road is a lively magnet for culture, entertainment, retail business and community activity, and Miami Beach is arguably the cultural center of South Florida. Now recognized as one of Miami-Dade County's major cultural institutions, ArtCenter operates from its three historic buildings at 800, 810 and 924 Lincoln Road. The nearly 60,000 square foot campus encompasses 52 artists' studios, exhibition galleries, art education classrooms and administrative offices. Of the 7.2 million international and national visitors to Miami/South Beach annually, hundreds of thousands walk down Lincoln Road and view ArtCenter's display windows and
exhibitions. For its role in the shaping of South Florida's cultural landscape, ArtCenter has received recognition from local media such as New Times, which in 1997 called us the "best gallery in Miami", and from national media such as The Wall Street Journal, which in 1998 reported that our "presence has transformed the area...into a hub of commerce." In its May and November 1999 issues featuring the Greater Miami art community, Art in America magazine highlighted ArtCenter's "impact on the Miami art scene and its emerging profile" describing ArtCenter as "a gathering place for talented and ambitious young Miami artists."
(source: ArtCenter South Florida website)

These art centers are generally run by nonprofits, which means Mr. Kresmery may need to accomplish this transformation from "blight" to destination through a great act of philanthropy, donating the building to a nonprofit and taking the deduction against his River Park Place profits. Since property prices are currently inflated, this may be more financially attractive than it sounds.Here are some community art centers, which may give you an idea of what a Kresmery Art Center might look like:
Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago)
Kimball Art Center (Park City, Utah)
Lawrence Arts Center (Lawrence, Kansas)
ArtCenter/ South Florida (Miami Beach, Florida)
Gallery 37 Center for the Arts (Chicago)
Steamboat Springs Art Council (Steamboat Springs, Colorado)
Sedona Arts Center (Sedona, Arizona)

The Elginite - Elgin blog: More about an arts center

Part Two
Last week I mentioned the possibility of an art(s) center in Elgin. I may not have been clear about what I meant. Some museums call themselves art centers, but by art center I didn't mean museum (though Elgin can use one of those too). What I meant was a place that offers art programs and instruction, galleries, studios and so on; a place where artists work, not just a place where their works are displayed. Here are some more examples: Artspace Fort Worth Community Arts Center Arlington Center for the Arts Beverly Arts Center - Chicago Contemporary Artists Center (CAC) - North Adams Torpedo Factory Art Center - AlexandriaThe last two of these are especially interesting. Both are housed in massive old industrial buildings. The Beaver Mill, home of the CAC, is a 130,000 sq ft historic brick and stone mill... The CAC comprises 25,000 sq ft of the building and houses five galleries, a residency hall, and approximately 12,000 sq ft of studio space. (source: CACNorth Adams)Yeah that's big. As for the Torpedo Factory, it has 3 levels of 84 artist studios, 8 group studios and 6 galleries. The Torpedo Factory's experience may be instructive for Elgin: Work began on the building in May of 1974, with artists and the City of Alexandria working together to renovate, build and clean out the interior...By July, artists had converted the huge space into a complex of bright and clean studios. Most of the studio spaces had been reserved by that time from a list of juried artists.By 1983, the building needed major repairs and improvements. As part of a sale/lease-back agreement (a use of special federal tax provisions allowing for renovation of historic buildings), the building was sold to Alexandria Art Center Associates, leased back from AACA by the City, and subleased to the Torpedo Factory Artists' Association. As part of the sale agreement, the City had a one time repurchase option to be exercised in 1998.The City Council approved the repurchase on August 31, 1998. The purchase price was negotiated in a prescribed series of appraisals. A balloon payment from the original loan to AACA in 1983 covered most of the purchase cost.In the lease agreement that ran from 1983 to 1998, the City was responsible on an annual basis for many operating costs, a percentage of real estate taxes, and 1/3 of the utilities in addition to annual rent payments. Since 1983, the City and the artists have split equally the operating costs of the Art Center including the payroll for city staff.In 1994, the Office of Budget and Management did a management study of the Art Center. At this time a recommendation to "privatize" the Art Center in 1998 was made by the City Manager. Over the last two years, the Artists' Association and the City have negotiated parameters which govern the privatization.On September 1, 1998 the Artists' Association took over all management of the building, and the City now acts as landlord. Factored into the artists' rent were the repurchase cost in excess of the balloon payment, including 62% (a number based on the artist-occupied percentage of the building) of the interest, general service operating costs, and all future maintenance and repair costs excluding exterior repairs. The artists are responsible for 62% of utility costs. All other operating costs are borne by the artists, including all administrative, janitorial, security, staff, advertising, printing, minor building maintenance, lighting supplies, and insurance for the entire building. (source: Torpedo Factory)In my view, projects like this may offer a higher return and incur fewer risks than the boondoggles to which we have become accustomed.