WHEATON – “2013 was a year marked by progress.”
These were among the first words spoken by Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk during his 2014 State of the City Address, which took place Jan. 16 at Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton.
The event, hosted by the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Clare Woods Academy, was attended by many local officials, including state reps. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, and Sandy Pihos, R-Glen Ellyn, as well as representatives from the city of Wheaton, Community Unit School District 200 and Milton Township.
“We're all in it together, in terms of the city,” said Wheaton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors President Rick Erickson, who addressed the crowd before Gresk took the podium.
During his speech, the mayor discussed recent economic development in the city, such as the fall openings of Mariano's Fresh Market and Wheaton 121 luxury apartments, as well as the construction of a three-story, 40,000-square-foot DuPage Medical Group facility at the site of the former downtown Jewel.
In addition, Gresk welcomed many other new businesses that have joined the city in the past year.
During a question and answer session after the address, Gresk said he hadn't heard of any plans for the now-empty Dominick's site at Danada Square East.
While presenting his speech, he spoke about the Wheaton Downtown Strategic and Streetscape Plan, which has received price estimates as high as $65 million. The plan could serve as a catalyst for further area growth, Gresk said, adding that local government is also working to create a citywide economic development plan.
In 2013, Wheaton's building department issued 49 new single-family home permits, 47 commercial remodeling permits and 28 commercial re-occupancy permits, Gresk said.
Financially, the city has maintained a AAA bond rating, the highest possible for municipalities, according to Gresk, and has received its 11th consecutive Distinguished Budget Presentation Award and decreased its annual property tax levy for the fourth year in a row.
Current high priority projects for Wheaton include sanitary sewer improvements and the removal of trees infected with the emerald ash borer.
Wheaton is embracing technology through a variety of avenues, Gresk said, including the implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning services to streamline city operations, from payroll to parking tickets.
Online, the city has established itself on Pinterest, email and Twitter, which proved to be a valuable method for communicating with residents during the recent cold snap and the flooding of April 2013.
Gresk lauded local organizations and city commission members for the success of events and projects such as the Taste of Wheaton, the Chili Cook-Off, the Dickens of a Christmas Holiday Stroll and the recent community mural undertaking.
“I look forward to what 2014 will bring,” Gresk said.