In response to the recent article published regarding the TIF in Riverside (“Riverside Swim Club: We’re not part of anti-TIF coalition,” News, Sept. 20), I would like to set the record straight.

I am part of a group of concerned citizens who is alarmed by the possibility of the implementation of a TIF here in our historical landmark village. I have seen the surrounding communities change drastically with the implementation of TIFs, and feel very strongly that Riverside should not fall victim to the same kind of development.

To make sure that we have an accurate understanding of what a TIF actually can and cannot do, our group has spent the last several months educating ourselves on the subject. We have hired a renowned TIF expert who works in surrounding areas to educate us. We have spoken to the executive director of the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group, after she eloquently spoke at length on NPR on the subject of TIFs in Chicago.

We have spoken to a school board member in Oak Park about the ramifications of the TIF on the schools in their town. We have tried to become educated citizens and have read the village’s Transit Oriented Development study from cover to cover, (which was funded in the majority by the RTA to increase ridership). I dare say that our citizens group is extremely well educated on what a TIF could do to our community.

This very newspaper published the boundaries of the proposed TIF district on May 24, 2006. The fact is that they do include the swim club, as well as Swan Pond, the village hall, the Riverside Garage, the Masonic Temple, Guthrie Park, Centennial Park, several private homes, the grounds up to the swinging bridge (and beyond) and the downtown business district.

Since to my knowledge there has been no retraction issued that excludes any of these areas, they are still in the proposed TIF boundaries. Kathleen Rush, our village manager, said in your article regarding the swim club that she “cannot imagine why any elected board would want to go in and upset 700 homeowners. It would just be nuts. The inappropriate fear mongering needs to be checked with some facts.”

The fact is that the “elected board” approved the TOD study that included these properties as your newspaper has previously published. If they have indeed taken out the swim club from the proposed TIF, then we applaud them! Let’s hope that they have also taken out the village hall, the Masonic Temple, the Riverside Garage, Swan Pond, Guthrie Park, Centennial Park, the grounds up to and beyond the swinging bridge, as well as the many private homes!

Since we have done our homework, we know that anything outlined in the final TIF boundaries is in harm’s way, and possibly could be taken by eminent domain, given or sold to developers and developed into high-density housing or anything else that this or future village boards deem necessary make the money to pay back the bonds on the TIF.

There is much public outcry regarding TIFs across the country, and there are many people working to reform them to put more accountability into the process, but currently, this is how a TIF works!

We, as concerned citizens, have tried to speak to all bodies that will be affected by the TIF. Many of those we have spoken to were not aware of the proposed TIF, or that they were even included in it. We believe in educating people about what TIF could mean, and have been encouraging them to read the TOD (available on the village Web site), and see what is proposed. This does not in any way form a “coalition” that somehow denotes a radical group. I apologize to the swim club regarding the inference that they were involved in our group.

We personally are against high-density housing in Riverside, loss of any green spaces, higher taxes and compromised quality of life, and we are extremely concerned about our schools, as a TIF freezes the revenue captured from increased EAV for up to 23 years, thereby freezing the increased funding from the tax dollars to our schools.

In other districts, the restrained budget has increased class sizes and limited personnel. We have given the information we have gathered regarding our affected schools to the school boards, so they may do their own due diligence and educate themselves on any possibilities for negotiations open to them.

We are still looking forward to an open public forum with the village to discuss the finalized TIF proposal. As of this date, none has been announced. In the meantime, we will continue try to inform the residents of Riverside what a TIF is, and that if the TIF fails, as it has in many surrounding communities, the taxpayers are responsible to pay back the TIF. Once again, this is how a TIF works. It takes only one well-placed remark in the paper suggesting that we are uninformed on the facts or that our intentions are less than honorable to infer that we are suspect.

This is too important an issue to let seven trustees decide without a public voice. By the time a TIF is over, there will have been many trustees come and go, but the effects will still be felt. Not only could a TIF change the quality of our education for the next 23 years, it will permanently change Riverside from Olmsted’s vision into Metra’s vision.

We sincerely hope that your readers will seek more information on the proposed TIF. The TOD study can be found on the village Web site, and additional information can be found at and at

James Reynolds is a Riverside resident and president of the Frederick Law Olmsted Society.