East Dundee push on to revitalize, enhance downtown
By Erin Sauder For Sun-Times Media January 23, 2014 4:06PM
One plan would turn the East Dundee Farmer's Market into a weekly Saturday and Sunday event to include antiques and collectibles in addition to the traditional local farm produce for sale. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: February 25, 2014 6:28AM
EAST DUNDEE — When it comes to the future of East Dundee’s downtown, two words are being used to sum up its direction.
“Revitalize and enhance,” said Karen Blair, who recently has taken the helm as the village’s new marketing director.
Blair and several East Dundee business owners met this week to discuss initiatives in the works for 2014.
One plan involves the Dundee Farmer’s Market, which is held Saturdays from mid-May through October in the downtown. This year, the market celebrates its 25th year.
Blair’s vision is to make it a two-day event. Saturday’s focus would be on flea market finds such as antiques and collectibles. Plans also call for an antiques appraiser and a speaker series on Dundee’s history. Sunday would be food-related, and local farmers will be invited to come and sell their offerings.
“We want to honor the market for being here 25 years, but we also want to revitalize it,” Blair said.
Other plans in the works include monthly events such as car shows, pet fairs and even a “Wine Down Wednesday” with wine tastings and art. Initiatives include a village-wide garage sale and shredding events.
Brent Motl, an accountant at Charles J Motl, CPA & Associates, 324 N. River St., is excited about what’s ahead for East Dundee.
“We’ve spoken to Karen a few times, and I think what (she and village officials) are doing for the village is outstanding,” he said. “My brother, Blair, has been involved in a lot of the discussions, and we’re honored and humbled to be a part of the plans.”
Blair Motl said his family’s business has offered to contribute to the downtown revitalization effort in two ways. One is to help bring businesses to East Dundee by providing accurate financial statements and tax returns for bank financing.
“Starting a new business or moving an existing business can be costly,” he said. “Having accurate financial records can greatly help a business get through the loan process.”
The second avenue, according to Motl, is a little different.
“It’s the opposite of what you’d expect from accountants: art. We’re ready to sponsor activities that will bring culture and artists to River Street,” he said. “By adding public art to East Dundee, we hope to give it more character to attract people. It’ll give families a reason to drive down River Street rather than the main roads.”
An artist and metal sculptor, Blair Motl wants to contribute his talents. One of his sculptures, a dragonfly, adorns the top of the Charles J Motl, CPA & Associates building. Another, a motorcycle, is located in the back of Diamond Jim’s pub in East Dundee. In downtown Elgin, a face sculpture is located outside the Haight Building, at 166 Symphony Way. And during East Dundee’s St. Patrick’s Day parade last year, Blair Motl created a diamond ring sculpture to propose to his girlfriend, now wife, Doree.
“(I’m) willing to create sculptures for businesses that are looking to build out or decorate their new places once tax season is over,” he said.
Joe Zeller, who owns Zeller Marketing & Design with his wife, LouAnn, in downtown East Dundee, is cautiously optimistic about the revitalization plans.
“I think Karen has a good idea and vision of what she wants to happen in the town,” he said. “Getting there and having everyone on the same page is a different story.”
In the Neighborhood Deli owner Jeff Turner said there is potential to make East Dundee a destination.
“Karen’s in a great position to do that,” he said.
But Turner said the businesses also share the responsibility.
“People aren’t going to come to us,” he said. “We have to go out and get them and become part of our community. Everybody’s going to have to do that. You’re not going to just move in and have a million-dollar restaurant. And the more businesses and restaurants that come to the downtown area is going to make everybody successful.”
Blair said the village staff and board have been instrumental in helping create a plan for the town.
“They are genuinely committed to enhancing the area,” she said.