MINOOKA — The village of Minooka is prepared for the economy to turn around. With multiple street reconstructions and repairs over the last year, storm sewers rebuilt and future upgrades being planned, the village is ready for the next economic boom, Village President Pat Brennan said.
In his State of the Village address on Wednesday, March 6, Brennan outlined the many infrastructure projects that have taken place, including the complete rebuild of Twin Rail Drive, $310,000 in Motor Fuel Tax paving projects, replacement of $56,000 worth of village sidewalks and installation of 950 feet of new water main on McLindon Road.
“A lot of the things going on are to improve our infrastructure,” Brennan said following his speech. “I think Minooka is going to be really ready for expansion, which we weren’t before.”
But the biggest project is yet to come. Minooka has been awarded a $4.35 million grant through the Illinois Commerce Commission to rebuild and widen the railroad bridge over Ridge Road. The news was met with applause from the audience who came to hear the village president speak at Chapin’s East.
Along with the ICC grant obtained with the help of the Grundy County Highway Department, the village has a $2.8 million STP grant they’ve already received from the Will County Governmental League.
Village officials are hoping the two combined will pay for the entire cost to rebuild the crossing, which requires traffic to narrow from three down to two lanes.
“It always causes a bottleneck, with traffic back-ups to the light sometimes,” Brennan said. “It’s probably where most of our (vehicle) accidents are.”
During 2012, Trader Joe’s signed on to build a 850,000-square-foot distribution center in Minooka, making it one of the biggest economic development projects to date. The construction of Grainger was completed and both companies will be hiring throughout the year.
Just recently, it was announced that Metal Stamp, Inc. will build a 50,000-square-foot facility in Minooka this year.
On the residential side, 29 new homes were built in 2012, putting Minooka at an average of 30 homes over each of the last three years. Only a few municipalities have seen that type of residential growth, Brennan said.
“There’s probably three villages in that (category),” Brennan said. “We have been doing it right along through our stimulus program.”
Another long-awaited project that hasn’t yet come to fruition is the McEvilly Road bike path joining Minooka and Channahon. The path, which will eliminate a major safety concern, is the village’s number one priority in transportation projects, Brennan said.
“We are diligently trying to get this done,” he said.
The crowd applauded a second time when Brennan announced that crime offenses have declined in the last three to four years. Brennan said it is a credit to the officers of the Minooka Police Department and residents of the village.
Minooka Police Officer Ken Briley was brought in as the village’s Emergency Management Agency Coordinator this past year. Briley and Community Policing Officer Denis Tatgenhorst were instrumental in graduating Grundy County’s first Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program.
Community volunteers from the Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni and Minooka Police Explorer Program logged nearly 600 hours assisting in numerous humanitarian events. Included were Special Olympic fundraisers, Summer Fest, parades, the bicycle safety rodeo and a Joliet Slammers baseball game.
Brennan took a moment to single out residents Jerry and Lorraine Davidson, who raised $600 at a fun fair during the day and then worked the same evening raising $600 for the veterans in the community. He also had praise for the staff at the Three Rivers Library and Channahon resident Mike Rittof for all they’ve done for Minooka.
“We really have tremendous volunteers in this area,” Brennan said.
The biggest task the village has is to provide day-to-day services in a safe environment for the residents of Minooka, Brennan said.
“But sometimes going beyond keeping the streets safe, clean and clear requires elected officials to think outside the box and look to see how else we can serve and benefit our community,” Brennan said.
“We are thankful to be part of such a great community, and we look forward to growth as the economy continues to climb out of the struggles it has been subject to.”