Happy New Year 2019!
As I look back at the past year, it's clear that much was accomplished.
In September, I concluded my one-year term as president of the Illinois Municipal League. I met so many wonderful people who, like our local leaders, enjoy serving and trying to make a difference in their communities.
In October, Villas of Holly Brook broke ground and construction of an assisted living and memory care center at Frank Scott Parkway and South 11th Street began. We also saw the demolition of the dilapidated Rob Nora apartments at 7009 West Main Street and the Forest Hills apartment complex at 8512 West Main Street.
The City celebrated the opening of new businesses. For example, the long-awaited Hofbräuhaus Brewery & Restaurant, and Copper Fire Bar & Eatery opened this past spring. Moto Mart opened a new convenience store along Rt. 161 and Fullerton in December. Main Street has welcomed several new businesses to their family of unique shopping and dining establishments.
Some of our city's destinations became bigger and better. Bicentennial Park dredged its popular lake and provided improved recreational opportunities with a new playground and walking trails. Auffenberg Ford completed major renovations, and the EDGE's expansion made it all the more fun.
Work is underway on the next streetscape project on West Main Street from 6th Street to 17th Street. City sewer projects will continue throughout Belleville. We apologize for any inconvenience, but all these improvements are very important and necessary.
This year’s tax levy will see a very slight increase of only 0.30% over last year’s. We know that future increases may be necessary as we continue to work to meet our obligation for the long unfunded pension liabilities.
I extend my sincere appreciation to Carole Piontkowsky and all the volunteers from this year's Chriskindlmarkt. Once again, the Belleville Exchange Club did an excellent job decorating our Veterans Memorial Fountain. Special thanks to our Downtown Belleville Optimist Club for organizing a great Christmas parade, and Santa on the Square. Finally, a big thanks to our Belleville merchants for decorating their shops and adjusting their schedules. All of these wonderful contributions helped make 2018 a successful year.
In closing, thank you to our dedicated city staff and countless volunteers who contribute in so many ways to make Belleville a great place to live. Thanks, too, to everyone who supports our local businesses! I wish all of you a very happy and prosperous 2019.