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Bensenville to Forbes: We're not dead yet!
By Hafsa Naz Mahmood | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/11/2008 12:04 AM

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Perhaps Bensenville has a cloud hanging over it these days, but it's hardly dying.

That's the reaction of village leaders to news that it was declared America's fastest-dying small towns by Forbes magazine. The real culprit, they say, is plans by the city of Chicago to bulldoze homes and businesses to make way for expansion of O'Hare Airport.

"Obviously, we think it is further proof of the negative impact of the O'Hare modernization program," Village Manager Jim Johnson said. "We have known for quite a while that this program has placed a cloud over our community."

The Forbes article also named Kokomo, Ind. and Austintown and Middletown, both in Ohio, as towns gasping for air, but Bensenville leads the list. As recently as 2000, times were good in Bensenville: Poverty was at 6.5 percent, incomes were growing and people were relocating to the village. Now, incomes have dropped by 11.4 percent, poverty has more than doubled and domestic in-migration has ground to a halt, according to the story, which made its findings based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau's three-year American Community Survey.

Johnson, however, questions the data.

"Our data shows that until this past year, housing prices in Bensenville had been appreciating at a rate higher than most communities in DuPage County," he said.

Also, Johnson added, the village has taken a number of steps to give Bensenville a good image.

"I think the article fails to point out the positive things that go on in Bensenville - whether it's special events, parks, maintenance of streets and roads, the redevelopment of the downtown and various other housing developments we've initiated," he said.

The current administration in Bensenville for the past two decades has been working on giving the village a new face and image to work with.

Some upcoming commerce includes a new Aldi grocery store, hotel and McDonald's along Irving Park Road.

The village is working with Hitchcock Design Group in a complete re-branding of the community.

"We think we've got a lot of things going on," Johnson said, "but we realize there's been a negative impact."