Motorola bolting tops 2012 stories
Motorola Mobility announced in August it was leaving Libertyville for downtown Chicago. The decision was the top story in Libertyville for 2012. | Thomas Delany Jr.~ Sun-Times Media
Top web stories
The five most-viewed stories in 2012 on the Libertyville Review website:
1. Lake Forest doctor drowns; ‘she will not be forgotten’.
2. Libertyville Township man killed on railroad tracks.
3. Mickey Finn’s to move to new location.
4. Libertyville parents of brain tumor survivor to hold walk.
5. $1-per-pack tax hike may hurt cigarette sales.
Updated: February 25, 2013 2:21AM
LIBERTYVILLE — A lot happened in Libertyville in 2012, but these are the five stories that had the biggest affect in the community. From a major business leaving town to another expanding, here are the top five stories of the year:
1. Motorola leaves Libertyville for city
In August, Motorola Mobility announced that it would move its corporate headquarters out of Libertyville and into Chicago.
Hundreds of employees at Libertyville’s facility looked likely to lose their jobs, and the village was disappointed to say the least.
“My comment about Motorola is it’s just one more broken promise from them,” Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler said at the time that Motorola’s plans became known. “It’s going to be tough on our residents and all of those people that will lose their jobs.”
In 2011, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn visited the Libertyville facility on Peterson Road to announce a $100 million statewide tax incentive package designed to keep jobs in Illinois.
To qualify, a company must maintain a workforce of 2,500 employees, and Motorola was planning on moving only 2,250 to the new HQ in Chicago.
Since then, it’s clear Libertyville jobs weren’t the only ones on the chopping block.
Motorola has closed offices and plants in China, Brazil and South Korea.
Knowing that may have slightly softened Weppler’s stance today on the move.
“Those jobs would have been cut whether Motorola moved or stayed in Libertyville,” he said.
2. $20 million for road improvements
On the March 20 primary ballot, Libertyville voters were faced with a referendum that would allow the village to sell bonds to pay for road improvements.
Libertyville maintains 89 miles of roads, much of which were built in the 1970s and 1980s.
Residents had been complaining for some time that the roads were in terrible condition.
Responding to those concerns but knowing that tax increases are unpopular, village officials said it was a choice between paying now or paying much more later, when roads would fall into an even greater state of disrepair.
Most of the road rehabilitation work would involve grinding off the road surface, resurfacing the roadways and patching as needed. Public Works Director John Heinz said repaving of the roadways will be significantly less costly than a complete reconstruction of the roadway, which can cost “four to eight times as much.”
Work is scheduled to begin in spring 2013. A list of streets slated for repair can be found on the village website at www.libertyville.com.
3. Construction continues to drag
A 2012 project helmed by the Illinois Department of Transportation will continue to be a headache after already inconveniencing drivers and local business owners since its start last spring.
The Route 21-Route 137 construction was supposed to be completed by Aug. 31, 2013. It is now at least three months behind schedule, Public Works Director John Heinz said.
In the beginning, communication with the state agency was poor. Changes were made swiftly without notice being given to the village, thus removing the ability to warn drivers to allow for more time when passing through the area.
While that has been smoothed out, incessant traffic continues to be a daily ritual.
Though they don’t hold the reins of the project, the village has tried to do all it can to ease the burden on residents. The board recently passed a temporary sign ordinance, for instance, that will hopefully help direct passing drivers to businesses along the construction route.
Numerous businesses, including Ace Hardware and Curves, have reported lower foot traffic and less frequent visits from customers.
Regular updates on the project can be found at www.libertyville.com.
4. Proposed Liberty Station development
John McLinden is no stranger to Libertyville developments, having created the residential one on School Street. In the spring, he proposed a 17-acre transit-oriented development off Lake Street.
The development would include a combination of retail, apartments, single family homes, row homes, a grocery store, two parking decks and a public pavilion.
McLinden has said the project is not intended to change the character of downtown Libertyville but to “enhance what is already a great downtown.”
“We think, in a number of years, people will be able to walk through it and it will feel like it’s been there forever,” he said. “That’s the goal.”
Mayor Terry Weppler was impressed with the project when it was proposed, and his enthusiasm has not been dampened.
“It is an exciting plan, and we hope that the developer is able to proceed with it once we’ve worked out the details,” Weppler said. “I think it would be a great improvement to the Trimm property.”
McLinden is modifying his plans based on a meeting with the village commissions and the board. He is also working with property owners to put agreements together and finalizing his numbers.
5. Volkswagen Credit expands operations
VW Credit Inc. started construction on a 30,000-square-foot expansion of its facility in May.
Officials at the time said it could mean an additional 150 jobs in the community over the next few years.
This expansion will almost double the size of the current facility.
A grand opening is scheduled for February, ahead of schedule of the original completion date which was to be in March.