‘Lockport has so much potential’ new Mayor Steve Streit says
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org May 8, 2013 7:44PM
Steve Streit is the new mayor of Lockport as seen in his office Monday, May 6, 2013, in Lockport. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 10, 2013 12:48PM
Steve Streit has an easy commute to his new office at Lockport City Hall, but his new tasks as mayor will be more challenging.
His mayoral to-do list seems longer than the two-block walk from his house to his second-floor office in the Central Square Building on 9th Street.
Sworn in as mayor on May 2, Streit is eager to get the city moving in the “right direction.” A political newcomer, he acknowledged that there was a lot of political squabbling in recent years, but he hopes to move past that and focus on the future.
“I’m not a professional politician. I’m just a citizen who felt that Lockport was going nowhere,” he said.
Apparently, the vast majority of the city’s voters agreed, as Streit beat his opponent, Ald. Kelly Turner (2nd) with 75 percent of the vote in the April 9 election.
A resident of Lockport since 1990, Streit said he and his wife, Wendy, have always volunteered and helped out where they could.
“Lockport has so much potential,” he said.
His No. 1 focus is rebuilding and stabilizing the city staff, which now has an interim city administrator, interim community development director and interim police chief.
“I want to get the staff excited about coming to work and make the council functional,” he said.
Developers who shied away from the circus-like atmosphere of the previous city council have been calling him, Streit said, and he’s eager to work with them to bring commercial, retail and light manufacturing development to Lockport.
Areas along the Interstate 355 corridor are “ripe” for development, he said, and he plans to pursue plans for Target and Home Depot stores on 159th Street.
Streit, 45, who owns a graphic design business, hopes to get the development ball rolling with “creative” but “prudent” incentives because economic growth is needed to raise revenue to fix Lockport’s aging infrastructure, he said.
There are 50-year-old water mains in the downtown area and “horrible” roads in need of repair and replacement, the mayor said. He plans to find ways to finance such work with minimal disruption to local businesses and without raising taxes.
“There are a lot of great things here,” Streit said, such as dining in Lockport’s “great” restaurants, walking the Illinois & Michigan Canal path and enjoying the Lincoln Landings Park.
He wants to help all residents feel like they are part of their city.
“Lockport grew so fast that some neighborhoods do not feel like they are in Lockport,” he said, adding that he intends to work with community organizations to get residents “plugged in and feel connected with the city.”