By Bob Balgemann


The news coming out of Machesney Park Village Hall continues to be very positive.

Most recently, Mayor Steve Johnson issued his third State of the Village report during the Feb. 3 board meeting and, in a word, he said it remains in “outstanding” shape. His address was directed to fellow trustees and elected officials, appointed board members, residents and village staff.

He began by saying, “I’m pleased to announce that the state of the village is outstanding and that we have seen considerable growth and investment in our community over the past year.

“The success that we are enjoying comes as a result of great work and dedication by our staff, advisory boards and trustees, and I’m excited to share these achievements with you.”

He started a lengthy list of positives by pointing out the village’s financial position “is strong and stable.”

For the fourth consecutive year, the village received the Distinguished Budget Award from the Government Finance Officers Association.

There also was good news out of Springfield with the state finally reimbursing Machesney Park the $200,000 grant funding it had been awarded in 2014 to help construct a new boat launch. Stone’s Landing, built along Shore Drive off the Rock River, evolved as a recreation area that included the new boat launch plus picnic shelter with seating, pier, new parking area and other leisure-time amenities.

Mayor Johnson also touched on another project, the new public works building off Gregory Drive. That should be finished soon and be accomplished without any bond financing.

Fund balance

The fund balance reserve increased from 79 percent to 88 percent, as of April 2019, end of the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The mayor said, “The village maintains reserves more than suitable to cover our expenses and we retain a small and highly productive staff. We have sustained our sales tax revenues through hard work and partnerships with our community stakeholders, and this allows us to hold the line on no property taxes.”

In addition to being a financially strong place to live, he said, “The village continues to be a safe place to raise a family and invest in a home or a business. Crime rates here are well below the state and national averages. I’ve talked to businesses who have relocated from other areas in order to enjoy our safe and comfortable community, and operate their businesses with peace of mind.”

The Harlem School District was named “Ally of the Year,” by the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.

Speaking of Harlem schools, District 122 continues to be a regional leader in educating local youth, he added.

“We are proud to have them as partners in providing important services to our community,” he said. “Harlem’s student-to-teacher ratio of 18 to 1 gives our students the necessary attention and personal education that is needed to grow and succeed in life.”

Economic growth

Johnson pointed to the village’s ongoing economic growth.

The community development department issued 804 building permits last year, for more than $27,500,000 in improvements. In excess of 336,000 square feet of industrial space currently is under construction, which includes new and renovated buildings.

“Our Route 173 corridor is bustling with business activity,” he continued “Five new retailers and services providers opened along Route 173 last year. These projects are huge wins for the village and these numbers are indicators that businesses have great confidence in our community to invest here, knowing they will have our support.”

He offered the following summary of some important projects that progressed in 2019:

* The former Menards building on the north side of town, which sat vacant for more than 10 years, was acquired and currently is being redeveloped by Spider Company, which he described as “a fantastic regional manufacturer that specializes in deburring, tube assembly, fabrication and machining for the aerospace industry.”

That is a $6.5-million-plus project.

* The mayor said thanks to the hard work of staff and the First Midwest Group, Old Navy and Five Below each opened new locations last year, in place of the former Bed, Bath and Beyond store that wasn’t vacant very long.

* Quest 7 is putting the finishing touches on a 24,000-square-foot manufacturing building and will be moving its corrugated cutting knives and accessories division from Wisconsin to Machesney Park, he said. That is a $2-million-plus project.

* Quantum Design at Park 90, near Interstate 90, invested more than $7 million in its new facility in the village.

* Twisted Tulip Banquet Center is building a $775,000 facility.

* Dollar Tree and Fashion Brow both took over spaces in the Gateway Shopping Center last year.

* Pig Minds Brewing began construction of a 7,000-square-foot addition to make room for an additional beer production area, and gathering space. This company is investing more than $1.5 million in its new project in town.

* PCI Pharma Services secured 150,000 square feet on Forest Hills Road for warehousing and storage, and is moving in now.

* America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses moved into the last remaining space in the center occupied by Buffalo Wild Wings and Jersey Mike’s.

* Henning Inc. is investing more than $20 million in a state-of-the-art addition to its cloud-computing, back-up power generation division.

New residents

Along with new industrial growth and jobs that are coming to Machesney Park, Mayor Johnson said, “We are also welcoming new residents.”

Last year, he said the village issued permits for 64 new single-family homes, most of which were in the Silo Ridge area. And TLC Living Community is building a 62-apartment, assisted living facility at a cost of more than $11.5 million. The development, off North Second Street adjacent to the Machesney Towne Center, is scheduled to open in mid-March.

“All of this awesome news shows you how hard myself, the board and our staff have worked to make Machesney Park a great place to live, learn and do business,” the mayor concluded.


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