The Flossmoor community has had its say in how the village’s strategic plan will evolve; now it is the village board’s turn.
The village wrapped up an online survey Aug. 31 and before that held three community feedback sessions, one via Zoom and two in-person at Village Hall. The stated intention of the ongoing process is to review Flossmoor’s progress, as well as identify needs and opportunities for the next five years.
The Zoom session, held Aug. 19 was led by Tom Drouin, who is involved with Flossmoor’s strategic planning sessions as a consultant. He said the goal of the session was to perform an analysis of the village, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) while updating the strategic plan.
“Plans aren’t static,” Drouin said. “It’s a living, breathing tool that needs to be revised, and this is part of that revision.”
In addition to village administrators, a handful of stakeholders — ranging from new to longtime residents and people who work in the community — offered feedback during the online session. Drouin started the conversation by asking what observations they have made about any significant changes to the village, positive or negative, in recent years.
Residents identified home sales that have “skyrocketed,” noticeable street repairs, downtown business development as well as anchor sales revenue with the arrival of Meijer. Participants also identified a strong sense of community, an open-minded administration in village government, a unique variety of homes, diversity of both race and experience, and a sense of safety as positives about Flossmoor. Taxes came up several times as a primary weakness that could deter some folks from moving to the village.
Diane Williams, a Flossmoor resident who for years served as a trustee, said she was happy to hear what people think about the community. She added she is happy with where things are financially. Flossmoor being in better shape commercially has helped to take some of the tax burden off of residents, she said.
“Our village is really in pretty decent shape,” Williams said.
Residents noted that they spend a lot of money outside of Flossmoor, and they would like to see more development that encourages shopping local and keeping that money within the village’s borders. They said they want to see greater diversity in restaurants, a bakery/coffee house and more grocery options such as a produce market, which would add to the village’s amenities without threatening businesses Flossmoor already has.
Williams noted space will always be an issue with development in Flossmoor and suggested the village remain connected to the region. She said “shared services” and working together to attract businesses will remain key.
“We’re never going to have everything we want in Flossmoor,” she said. “Sometimes when we’re only looking at our own space we miss opportunities and we’re fighting over opportunities.”
Residents also highlighted a need for more family entertainment opportunities. A hotel was suggested, too, as it has helped to drive development in other municipalities. Julie Van Til, who moved to town a year ago as the pastor of Flossmoor Community Church, added that residents like social responsibility and philanthropic aspects in the things they choose, and that should guide what development the village tries to attract.
“This is a generous community,” Van Til said. “They want to support things with their dollars that matter. Causes draw people.”
When it comes to threats, both near and long term, people pointed to the trucking center proposed for Calumet Country Club in neighboring Homewood. They also cited safety concerns with issues in surrounding communities that “could spill over” if Flossmoor is not careful. Flooding also remains a threat that necessitates fixes, with a proactive maintenance plan needed going forward, according to feedback. Traffic safety also was cited as a concern.
Williams said community engagement opportunities for families are an important part of maintaining the things that make Flossmoor special.
“The key for us is not to take anything good for granted and keep working to make things better,” Williams said.
In-person sessions were held Aug. 21 and 25 at Village Hall, and the programs were essentially the same, though some feedback provided by the community varied. Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said the in-person sessions largely “had the same flavor of comments.”
In addition to the aforementioned feedback, people cited the school system (especially Homewood-Flossmoor High School) as a strength during in-person sessions. They also said they enjoy the Village’s use of social media and other communications methods, as well as the availability of a train to Chicago. Other opportunities cited include sidewalks to connect neighborhoods and bike lanes, especially near the high school. In addition to the family entertainment proposal, Flossmoor needs more nightlife opportunities, in-person responders said.
Wachtel said she wants to follow the process and make sure the board has input during upcoming sessions before offering any impressions on the feedback.