Last week, Chicago published a story in which Edward McClelland proposed that Chicago's inner-ring suburbs, including Niles, merge with the city. Yesterday, we got a letter from that municipality's mayor, Andrew Przybylo. His message, below.
On September 5, an article was published on your website by Edward McClelland entitled, “The Inner-Ring Suburbs are Withering. Why Not Just Merge Them With Chicago?” His article recklessly and inaccurately characterizes the Village of Niles as dated, unable to attract businesses, economically weak, and lacking in resources for its residents. Mr McClelland’s article is poorly conceived, insufficiently researched, and an embarrassment to your publication and Chicagoland.
Obviously Mr. McClelland did not talk to anyone in Niles about his article, and I am not sure he actually visited Niles (perhaps he was in Edison Park, as he suggests in his article). If he had visited Niles, he would have found a community that is a far cry from a dying first-ring suburb. He would have seen a strong and diverse housing stock that welcomes people from all economic strata to our community and gives them a chance to live out their American Dream. Driving through our delightful neighborhoods, it is laughable to think they have not been touched since 1962; one will find streets of beautiful modern homes, and renovations and rebuilding of the housing stock are continuously in progress.
Had Mr. McClelland explored Niles, he would have found a community that has a strong and vital retail environment with over $1.5 Billion in annual retail sales, and an industrial park that has vacancy rates below 5% (historic lows for our community). Additionally, he would have seen the major corporations such as Shure Incorporated, Great Lakes Coca-Cola, Wells Lamont and Hammacher Schlemmer that call Niles home, including those that have recently invested in Niles facilities such as Woodward, FedEx and Rich Products (just to name a few).
All of this is in a community where the municipality only takes 5.54% of a local property tax bill and provides services far above and beyond anything that residents of the City of Chicago could expect. Can the residents of Chicago ride their bus routes for free? In Niles they can, enjoying the service of the Niles Free Bus Circulator system. In 2019, Pace will launch their first “Pulse” arterial rapid transit route right through the heart of Niles, making Niles a pioneer in Chicagoland public transportation. And by the way, Pace’s second upcoming Pulse route? Also through Niles, providing express transit to O’Hare.
The truth is that even with all of this monumental progress, we are still only at the very first steps of Niles' next boom. Conceptual plans have been developed for an entertainment and retail district to surround our historic Leaning Tower, along with new transit-oriented development along Milwaukee to continue our perpetual relevance and give families exactly what they’re looking for (yes, what families in 2018 are looking for). As for identity, drive east along Touhy Avenue and past the forest preserve you’ll enter a sudden explosion of retail and industrial developments that residents of the region (including Chicago) flock to to buy groceries, have lunch, fill up on gas, and shop. Even our street signs throughout have been updated to a new custom look to create a sense of identity. The fact is, there can be no mistaking when you’re in Niles.
Agreed there are some communities that are “bedroom” communities that are struggling due to their lack of diversity in tax base, but Niles is a far cry from those communities. To lump us in with them is irresponsible and just plain wrong! With incredible value, culture, residential, and commercial development, entertainment, and more growth on the way, stripping Niles of its unique identity and tax base and transforming it into a nondescript, financially strained ward at the edge of Chicago would be a travesty.
To Mr. McClelland: I cordially invite you to come visit Niles any time. I am sure that even on your first visit you’ll be amazed with our thriving town.
Your loyal reader,
Village of Niles
P.S. If you'd like to see a more complete picture of today's Niles, we've assembled just a few photos for you at vniles.com/sept2018