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Best and Worst - Under 10,000 Population
“We have a close, two-way relationship with the people in town,” says Mikel Milks, Glencoe’s director of public safety, whose department oversees Glencoe’s police, fire, and EMT personnel. It also supports an e-mail alert network for residents. When one Glencoe neighborhood experienced a rash of burglaries recently, the town’s safety department sent out e-mails to notify the public. “It extended our reach because it gave us many more eyes in that neighborhood than the one patrol car that passes through every eight hours,” Milks says.
In March 2003, Glencoe topped Chicago’s ratings of the best places to live among the area’s most expensive suburbs, and now it tallies the score for the healthiest among the region’s smallest suburbs. But the town’s desirability is taking a toll on its old housing stock. Teardowns have been rampant for a decade, and the big new homes that fill out the once-spacious lots are uprooting the community’s sizable old trees. “I wish our regulations for saving trees were a lot stronger,” says Susan Varick, a 21-year resident of the town. “This town is not going to look the same or feel the same when you keep putting in these big houses with backyards the size of my rug.”
“Back in the 1950s, when Broadview was building up, the attitude was, ‘Oh, just dump those chemicals in the stream out back,’” says Vicenik, an engineer by training. “Now we know we were misusing Mother Earth, and it’s time to change that.” Vicenik has gathered up state grants and other public money to remediate brownfields-former homes of dry cleaners, gas stations, and other ground polluters-so that they can be used again. He says that at least $250,000 has been spent so far, and he has an application in with the U.S. EPA for another $500,000 grant.
Local industry keeps residential property taxes at about three-fifths what they would be otherwise-but the town is left balancing the need to enhance air and water quality with that of protecting vital jobs and a tax base. “It’s what you do,” Vicenik says. “You take an aggressive attitude.”
That sounds good to Autrey, though he wonders if change will happen in his lifetime. “I’m 59,” he says. “The generations coming up will benefit more.”
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