One of my first "acts" as a councilwoman was the ribbon cutting at Martin Plaza and now we all await the final touches on the Pavilion south of the train tracks. The former Wheaton City Councils, Mayor Gresk and city management teams should be commended for their downtown redevelopment plan. The new streetscape, recycle garbage cans, roadways and walkways are a welcomed update. In addition, necessary underground structural work was completed. While this placed a burden on some of the businesses, the city kept up close communications and worked with the Downtown Wheaton Association to make the best of the construction phase. Continued economic progress in downtown and the south Danada areas that draw people to live, work and visit our city should be our focus. These decisions should be made through the lens of fiscal responsibility and an eye to the future. While on the council I have received lots of feedback regarding the responsibility and involvement of city government in this area. Many residents wish for a more proactive approach and I look forward to discussing this area of growthe over the next four years.
The policies made by the city council should also encourage growth, mobility and unification throughout Wheaton, including Town Square Wheaton, Danada Square East, Danada Square West and the northern business district. Working with the Chamber of Commerce, the current city council recognizes the many great businesses, shopping and restaurants throughout Wheaton and as Councilwoman, I will continue to encourage growth and access. Our future should be focused on unifying the North, downtown, and South business areas whenever possible in order to strengthen our cities’ economy and make Wheaton a destination spot.
Our economy will continue to grow when we provide residents and visitors with greater access and mobility to enjoy all that Wheaton has to offer. If people find it too difficult to actually get somewhere, they won’t go. Roadways, parking, sidewalks, crosswalks, bike paths, and public transportation should consistently be reviewed and considered as we move forward with future developments.
Shoppers and employees of downtown businesses need convenient parking. The city council and the hard working city management team have begun the implementation of our vision that also includes commuter parking. The pandemic put a pause on our deep dive into commuter and customer parking. The leased parking lots are not generating the revenue they did pre-pandemic and Metra travel is very slow to recover. As of January 2023, the city has published a parking survey for residents, visitors and businesses that will inform our comprehensive plan moving forward. We have work to do over the next four years in this area. Current Parking Information
Safe Bicycling and pedestrian travel
More and more residents rely on or choose cycling and walking as their dominant form of transportation and recreation. Our city, working with the parks and schools, has been encouraging this with our sidewalk program. Our goal is to have at least one side of a street with a sidewalk throughout the city. This will provide safe walkways for our residents. We began with areas near schools and parks and will accomplish this goal over the next 2-3 years. This continues to be an important area for direct communications with residents, something we are consistently working on, regarding their neighborhood and the fronts of their homes. Proper development would encourage movement from the Prairie Path to downtown Wheaton businesses, along major roads, crossing major roads and connecting people to parks and businesses. The final stages of the Downtown Streetscape Design give residents and visitors a renewed focus on the Prairie Path as an important route to the center of town. We finally completed the underground walkway under Roosevelt Road and we were able to incorporate a rail for easier bike accessibility. In the future, encouraging green forms of transportation will move Wheaton in the right direction.
Our growing community relies on a thriving park district, high quality public schools, and a future-focused, fiscally responsible city government. As councilwoman, I support enhanced collaboration and collective action between these three pillars of our vibrant community. I also will continue a respectful dialogue and celebration of these partnerships.
Currently the City Council, Wheaton Park District and Community Unit School District 200 have a good working relationship. As councilwoman, I have advocated for policies and practices that encourage strong collective action and collaboration. My husband and I chose to move to Wheaton and stayed to raise our family in Wheaton because of the variety of services provided by these three entities. We will stay in Wheaton into our “empty nest” years because of these factors as well. As councilwoman, I will do my best to support diverse services that both attract new residents and keep the many residents that wish to spend their retirement years in Wheaton.
Over the last four years I have also found my working relationship with other elected officials at the county, state and federal level to be impactful and positive. The issues we face as a community are often not unique to Wheaton and purposeful communication and collaboration with other officials and their offices have benefited Wheaton. We received close to $8 million in pandemic relief funds, have hired a grant writer that has successfully received state and county funding for flood water issues, received $750,000 from Congressman Casten's federal funds to enhance our outdoor public library space, used state cannabis funds on body cameras for our police force and addressed state roadway issues with our state officials. I will continue to collaborate with our elected officials.
Programs and Services
When we work together, we can maximize our resources to provide Wheaton residents with even greater return on the investment of our tax dollars. This can include:
Collaboration on congested roadways and expansion areas such as Gary Ave. and the Cosley Zoo area have included stakeholders from the Wheaton Park District, the area schools, businesses, state officials and the city council. I look forward to implementing some positive expansion over the next few years in the north area of Wheaton.
Adding pedestrian crossings on Roosevelt Rd., additional sidewalks and bicycle paths or lanes will serve to get students to school safely, encourage recreational use of our many parks and better connect the South and North sections of Wheaton. We've accomplished this by fixing the underground pedestrian walk way on Roosevelt near S. Wheaton Ave. Additionally I am in favor of improved sidewalks along Roosevelt Road for safe pedestrian walkways to stores, the new urgent care facility, and the PACE bus system.
Sponsoring and promoting community events that celebrate our history and our diversity will connect residents and draw visitors. Events such as the Festival of Cultures, National Night Out, the Citizens Fire Academy, Neighborhood Roll Call and programs run by our current Community Relations Commission are just a few to be noted. Our community has enjoyed expanded programs by the Wheaton Public Library that make all residents feel welcome. DEI, music, special interest and business programs have all expanded despite overcoming the pandemic.
Supporting the Police Department, the Fire Department AND also the Wheaton Public Library continues to be a priority for me. My voting record, my words AND my actions have shown this support. We should not forget the Public Works Department that keep the city running.
Communication while raising funds through our many non-for-profit organizations that also work to make Wheaton a great place for all to live.
Affordable Cost of Living
The needs of the community are ever shifting. Currently, out of 13,000 students enrolled in Wheaton Warrenville District 200, approximately 28% identify as coming from low income families. This number has stayed relatively consistent over the last five years. The needs these families have impact our whole community and we must collaborate on to create solutions.
We must continue to grow and embrace our diverse population while maintaining the qualities of our community that bring people and keep people here. We can do this best when our strong pillars of the community work together. In 1994 my husband and I moved here for the schools and our first (affordable) home. We have stayed here because of the schools, the park district programs, and the services and safety features offered by the city. As we enter in to the “empty nest” stage of our lives, we wish to stay here. Like many people in our community, that means Wheaton must maintain affordable living options and reasonable taxes while offering important and impactful services that the community desires.
Environment and sustainability
Supporting environmentally friendly policies and practices and sustainable development is an essential investment in our future. Over the last four years I have truly enjoyed working with our Environment Improvement Commission on large initiatives such as language in our Strategic Plan and on the occasional Prairie Path clean up or recycle event.
As a city council in a high functioning community, we should support policies and practices that serve to increase environmental awareness of Wheaton residents. Several years ago Wheaton switched to a waste management system that encourages recycling. The Public Works Department encourages and organizes electronic recycling, tree and pumpkin recycling and Christmas light recycling. We must continue on this path.
Wheaton should be a “green leader” in DuPage County. We are proud to increase our tree planting over the last four year and installed hundreds of LED light fixtures. Our highly educated residents are committed to the future. Moving towards green energy and sustainable development can only serve as a positive cycle, fiscally and socially, for our city. I will work to implement more composting programs throughout the city.
When first elected the city of Wheaton had just conducted an extensive review of the various flooding issues throughout Wheaton. We know that solutions to our storm water issues must be developed with the future in mind. I committed to making this issue a priority and being open to ideas while talking with residents during my campaign and once I am on the council. I'm proud to say that we have developed a diverse array of solutions to these very complex water issues. I was happy to vote in favor of resident cost sharing programs for back yard flooding, storm sewer back up solutions, and lead service issues. Additionally, our new grant writer acquired funding for two areas of town who's flooding issues were quite dramatic. Information on Flooding Programs
Investing in bike lanes and paths that provide greater access to our parks, schools, commuter trains, shopping and the Prairie Path will encourage safe and energy efficient mobility while also encouraging physical exercise. I look forward to hearing more about the work being done by our Bicyclist and Pedestrian Advisory Commission. Additional walking paths will encourage joggers and walkers as well. On days when the weather is nice, one can see families biking and residents walking their dogs; a clear expression of Wheaton’s great sense of character.
Wheaton French Market & Winter Market
We've all waited a LONG time for the final touches on the new Pavilion space and I cannot wait for this Spring's French Market. While people have enjoyed the extra roomy road space to the South, I believe we will get even more enjoyment out of the covered space and all it has to offer beyond Saturday mornings. The local businesses, farms and artisans that are featured at our markets are a staple on a Saturday morning! The market brings visitors, supports local small business men and women, and facilitates local economic sustainability. The markets allow residents to walk or bike, businesses do not travel far, fuel costs stay down and as a results in a positive impact on our environment. Doing what we can to better meet the needs of the local community, keeping dollars local, linking neighbors and enhancing social relationships will be another priority of mine. Whatever the city council can do to put policies and practices in place to enhance the markets, I would be in support of.