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Mettawa ready for change
Daily Herald Editorial Board
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Published: 3/19/2009 12:02 AM

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Woodsy and well-to-do Mettawa faces what might be the first contested election in the village's 49-year history.

Clear-cutting a site near the Tri-State Tollway for a Costco sparked a local firestorm and led to the emergence of a full slate of challengers. The Costco plan also spotlighted how the village does business, with questions whether residents' opinions should have been solicited earlier and whether the village acted properly in acquiring the land later earmarked for Costco.

Even now, several incumbents express surprise that the issue became so controversial. That indicates a board that has lost touch with its 500 residents and is one of the reasons we endorse challengers Jess Ray for mayor and Bill Armstrong, John Maier and Cathy Nelson for three four-year terms. We endorse incumbent Larry Falbe for a single two-year term.

All but Falbe are running on a slate opposing Costco. While we take no stand on that issue, we endorse the slate's promise to strengthen ties to residents by going house-to-house to seek viewpoints, sending e-mail or mail notices in advance of votes on major issues and making use of a village Web site - created a few weeks ago - to post meeting notices, agendas and minutes. Falbe spoke up for more input from residents and voted against Costco but now believes the village should move forward with the plan and use Costco revenue to buy land for open space, to consider hiring a part-time village administrator, and to continue the village's tradition of annually rebating tax money to homeowners. Ray, in a lawsuit seeking to stop Costco, claims trustees illegally purchased the land currently under contract for resale to Costco. Ray claims the property's intended use was hidden from sellers and that one parcel illegally was purchased in the name of a trustee, No judge has ruled, but it appears at least that the land purchases have not met the standards of openness that residents deserve and desire.