Q&A: 2011 Mayoral Candidate, John Prendiville

John Prendiville, city councilman at-large, will file petitions this week for his candidacy for Mayor in the 2011 municipal elections.

Candidates for the February municipal elections will file their nominating petitions  starting Monday, Nov. 15. City Councilman will run against for the mayoral term that starts in May 2011.

Prendiville, a Wheaton resident for 20 years, is a managing director and managing counsel for The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and an active father of four children. He attended the University of Notre Dame and Eastern Illinois University, where he majored in English, and received his law degree from the DePaul University College of Law.

If elected, Prendiville said his first priority as mayor is the future of Hubble. He discussed the idea of keeping Hubble as public property and making it a recreational center with a swimming pool, indoor soccer fields and the existing fields used by the Park District now. Wheaton Patch talked with Prendiville about his positions on major issues in the city and why he wants to be mayor.

WP: How did you get involved in city government?

JP: I'm interested in government and have always followed what was going on. Six or seven years ago, my wife and I got involved in neighborhood issues regarding the homes… I started paying more attention to the City Council, so I started attending meetings.

WP: Mayor Gresk is very responsive. Many residents and media have his cell phone number. Will you be that accessible?

JP: Absolutely—I've had a record of doing that.

WP: What do you suggest in addressing storm water and sewage issues?

The city and sanitary districts are doing work, but not fast enough because people are having more—and greater—problems. Storm water is entering sanitary sewers and backup is occurring in people's homes. I myself have been flooded in the most recent floods and have gotten a substantial amount of rainwater in my basement. I think that even though we've got programs going on now, we need to step up that effort a little bit.

The only way we'd finance that is to increase cost on water and sewer bills...that infrastructure is so important to our homes.

That little cost (increase) pales in comparison to the costs people have had to have to pay to repair flood damage. They also need to take a look at what we can get together at the county level to purchase properties in the flood plain where there is no apparent solution (to deal with flooding in homes in flood plain area).

WP: How are you going to get people to vote for you?

JP: When I ran last time I was going door to door… I concentrate on homes of people who have voted (for me). (I'll also be) Meeting with groups of people and (those who host) coffees and answer questions and take it from there.

WP: What are your thoughts on how to deal with coyotes?

JP: The coyote issue will come back in February so I'll have to become educated about it. No matter what we do, they are going to be here. It's like trying to rid Wheaton of robins—we need to learn to coexist with them. If any are actually threatening people, then I would do something.

WP: What do you propose to do with Hubble?

JP: Keep parts of the building…there are parts that are excellent facilities and I think it'd be a great loss to tear it down. The original portion could be saved and maybe a portion of what's behind it as a remembrance—perhaps the façade. There are a lot of additions that are not useful—or of historical significance—and that'd be torn down. Maybe the Park District could build a building with a swimming pool. The high schools don't have pools (for their teams to use). (The Park District could also) build one or two indoor soccer fields. Soccer is a big sport in this community.

A good statement would be some kind of public artwork on the corner of Roosevelt and Naperville roads. The idea behind the development would be to create a true gateway for the city.

Taxpayers already own the site…It's only worth about $2-4 million, so you'd have to pay to demolish it. The property isn't worth much financially. It is a burden, though, to maintain it in its current state. And given there's no market for commercial real estate right now, if we went that route, it'd be years before it could be developed.

WP: What do you want to see happen to the Wheaton Grand Theater?

JP: I've been a big proponent of the theater and have been on the committee. This (issue) has changed because the theater has changed from (ownership by) a nonprofit to the bank, which held the mortgage on the building because this process has been stalled for so long. So who is going to purchase it and develop the building? We've hired a consultant to look at it—I tried earlier this year to get the City Council to negotiate with the bank to see if they'd be willing to donate it—or see if we could swap other land—but lost in a 4-3 vote. I can't understand why we can't consider that.

A live theater could be better (than a movie theater) because people who go to see live theater spend a lot more money than those who go to the movies. Our restaurants will benefit more from people going to live theater—(people who go to live theater) make a night of it. Our downtown is suffering right now, so we need a consistent draw to bring people down there. The future of our downtown doesn't bode well for retail unless we have some consistent draw. We do have restaurants and other culture and I think we need to market ourselves that way.


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