‘Our village is growing and thriving’: Leaders take stock of progress at State of Huntley

More housing, incubator shops slated to come to town this year

Huntley Village President Tim Hoeft speaks at the State of Huntley address Feb. 27, 2024.

Huntley leaders, including officials from the Huntley Police Department, Huntley Community School District 158 and the village, reflected on 2023 and foreshadowed what is to come in Huntley in 2024 at the State of Huntley address Tuesday.

Growth and the economy were major themes of the address. Park District Executive Director Scott Crowe shared statistics about the economic impact of parks in Huntley and said 145,000 people visited Deicke Park near downtown Huntley last year. Several playgrounds in Huntley are set to be replaced, including ones at Cottontail Park and Weiss Park. Crowe said the park district’s old playgrounds are recycled and relocated to places around the globe.

Village Manager Dave Johnson shared photos of Huntley in 2014 and more recent photos. The downtown area, Route 47 and the interchange of Route 47 and I-90 have changed significantly in recent years, and the village recently sold the Old Village Hall, which will be converted into a restaurant and banquet space. Johnson said he expects construction to start soon.

Johnson also mentioned there are 565 parking spaces downtown. According to village documents, parking wasn’t needed for the Old Village Hall due to that existing parking. “When Huntley gets money, there’s a return on investment,” Johnson said.

Also scheduled to come to Huntley will be incubator shops, Johnson said. McHenry and Woodstock opened incubators last year.

Johnson also touched on new housing developments coming into Huntley, including Fieldstone near Village Hall, which he said was “popping.” The subdivision broke ground in December and will have 173 homes once built out.

In response to an attendee question about how the residential growth from the new subdivisions might impact schools, District 158 superintendent Jessica Lombard said often people moving into the new neighborhoods are people moving from within the school district. She added that many years ago, there was a debate about whether to expand Huntley High School or build a new high school, but she said enrollment in District 158 has been declining.

Lombard said Huntley High had a peak enrollment of about 3,100 students. Just under 2,900 students were enrolled at the high school in 2023, according to the Illinois Report Card. “Watch that area closely,” Lombard said.

Huntley Police chief Robert Porter gave updates on developments like automatic license plate readers and the SAFE-T Act. He also mentioned mental health and said the police department has a social worker. “Mental health is something we are dealing with all the time,” Porter said.

District 158 officials discussed the district’s operational efficiency initiatives and ways the district is trying to involve parents and community members. One of those initiatives, the Parent Teacher Advisory Committee, began meeting this fall and has discussed issues in District 158 such as bullying in schools. “This opportunity to interact in-person has been amazing,” District 158 spokesperson Denise Barr said.

Officials talked about collaboration between agencies, with Huntley Area Public Library director Frank Novak noting events from last year like Raiders Read Together and storytime with Porter. “I commend Chief Porter for doing that,” Novak said.

Throughout the address, leaders expressed optimism. “Our village is growing and thriving and doing so well,” Huntley Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Binger said.