What are the pros and cons about living in Wilmette?

Asked by Chicago, Chicago, IL Sun Jul 22, 2007

I have benn transfered to Chicago, working downtown. Lots of my co-workers live in Wilmette area. I have 2 middle school children.

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:


Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Sun Jul 22, 2007
Having lived in Wilmette and Kenilworth for nearly 20 years, and having raised two children (now 23 and 24) here, I can tell you with confidence that there are only pros to iving in Wilmette.

You can get downtown in half an hour on the El, the Metra or via the Edens / Kennedy expressways.

The schools are, in a word, fabulous. New Trier High School is known everywhere. The park system is outstanding. The people are friendly and unpretentious.

The housing stock is varied, and a lot more affordable than people realize. It does get fairly limited in the $2M+ range, if that's a consideration.

The best thing about Wilmette, in my take, is its stability. It's not a transferee in / out town. People who move here tend to stay here. Your kids will make friends that will be with them for a long time.

About the only thing lacking is much of a dining or nightlife scene, but good dining is available nearby.

There's a fairly decent supply of homes for rent right now if you want to give Wilmette a trial for a year.

If you have specific questions you want answered, click on my profile and send me an e-mail.
Web Reference:  http://yochicago.com
5 votes
Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Sat Jan 23, 2010
Sorry, "Schoolboardlady," but when you do the following you place your identity and your credibility very much in question:

- Adopt a screen name that gives you apparent authority without allowing anyone to verify whether you've earned it.

- Selectively link to anti-referendum Web sites and omit a link to the New Trier site.

- Make wild charges about "greedy" real estate interests.

- Deliberately or from ignorance mischaracterize me and my interests.

- Hysterically mischaracterize the financial impact of the referendum on a typical Wilmette buyer.

I could go on but I think people get the point.

For all anyone knows you're just a greedy real estate agent with Glenview or Northbrook listings who hates seeing buyers opt for Wilmette time after time.
Web Reference:  http://yochicago.com
3 votes
Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Thu Jan 7, 2010
If I lived in Wilmette? You always do your homework?

You can learn from this thread that I do live in Wilmette and confirm it in many other places in just a few seconds. You can even just look to the right and see the Wilmette ZIP code under my name!

Parents here supplement their kids instruction because they want to - not, as you seem to infer, because they have to.

Here you are lecturing us that people want facts rather than a sell job - and doing nothing but a hard sell against the referendum and spewing political opinions.

I don't view this as a forum for argument about the referendum, nor did the person who posed this question.

If you're so enamored of facts, just quantify the dollar impact on a typical Wilmette homeowner rather than saying a buyer will be paying "a lot more." One man's lot is another's little.
Web Reference:  http://yochicago.com
2 votes
Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Thu Jan 7, 2010
Beware of "what realtors like Joe say?"

I'm not a realtor. Beware of people who don't do their homework.

Beware, even more, of people whose views on a community are distorted by a strong political bias, whether liberal or conservative.
Web Reference:  http://yochicago.com
2 votes
Thank you!
Flag Mon Apr 1, 2013
Js, Both Buyer And Seller, Wilmette, IL
Sat Aug 18, 2012
One recurring con in the previous comments is Wilmette's downtown area. That downtown Wilmette is not as vibrant as it should be will never be fully corrected until the Metra tracks have at least one place (preferably more) where traffic can pass over or under. At present, a simple trip going from one side to the other can have 10-15 minutes added to it because of trains traveling at street level. Our thrifty fore-residents called it wrong on the opportunity to get that right.
1 vote
Orca, , Wilmette, IL
Fri Mar 4, 2011
1. The best beach on the North Shore. The colorful Hobie sails light up the place. And you can rent one.
2. A great yacht club and harbor with many active fleets racing regularly.
3. Tremendous rec center and park districts with ice skating, hockey, sailing, dancing, swimming, and all the usual stuff.
4. Great parks. Gillson on the water with 4 lighted tennis courts.
5. Michigan Shores Club. On the lake with 4 lighted paddle tennis courts. Classic place/dining.
6. The most educated town in the North Shore (based on degrees/advanced degrees).
7. Best schools in the country.
8. Classic gorgeous old housing stock.
9. North shore without designer-label pressure. No one cares what you drive or wear.
10. Bahai Temple, friendly people, quick trip to Evanston for dinner, TWO Mayberry hardware stores, Plaza Del Lago shopping.
1. Zero nightlife. you have to make your own.
2. It will kill you just to get to a Target or a Wal-Mart. Nothing like that anywhere near the place.
3. Along with most of the North Shore - not the most conveniently located to ORD.
1 vote
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Wed Feb 3, 2010
Evidence of yet another "pro" of living in Wilmette, is the outcome of the Feb. 2, 2010 $174,000,000 referendum.

The referendum was defeated--63% vote NO.

That means the majority of the folks that voted acted wisely, as you would expect a well educated and informed community to act. Democracy at work and everyone had their say.

This means I can afford to move back and hopefully retire there!
1 vote
Don Shea, Agent, Evanston, IL
Tue Jan 26, 2010
Look the new building at New Trier can't be ignored. As someone who lives here (15 years now) and works in Wilmette, I think this is a pretty good place. I'm a New York transplant; I've lived in Newport Beach CA, Santiago Chile and I own a cottage in Michigan. Yet, Wilmette is my favorite place. I'm not pleased with the expansion project and certainly not the cost of it ($174MM) but New Trier High School is a terrific school and new facilities should enhance the educational experience.

Why Wilmette?
Certainly New Trier HS is one of many reasons to come here. My three kids have gone through the system and we, as a family, have been really pleased with the quality, variety and breadth of educational opportunities available.
* This is the last community on the North Shore with two train systems to Chicago (the El ends at 4th and Linden) so it's easy to get around. There are many driving options to get downtown or to the other suburbs;
* The community is pretty small which allows you to get to know a lot of people;
* The Park District runs terrific programs for all ages and Gilson Park;
* There are diverse housing options ranging from condos and co-ops to small single family homes and really large sinlge family homes. New building was fairly moderate in Wilmette over the last few years. It actually energized the housing market and introduced many new styles that fit the neighborhoods, rather than changing them.
* Taxes – lower than Evanston and Winnetka, higher than the northern suburbs. They’re just a fact of life.

Why I like Wilmette is going to be very different than why someone else will. We vote for the village by staying here even when we had opportunities to move.

For more details on Wilmette and real estate (after all that's what Trulia is all about!) visit my website - http://www.dsahomes.com. I place a lot of charts and commentary there.


BTW: I am still a NY’er at heart and root for the Yankees, the Giants and the Rangers. My son, however, is just embarrassed by my sports allegiances! He's a Cubs and Bears fan.
1 vote
Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Sat Jan 23, 2010
Please get real, Schoolboardlady.

Compared to other true North Shore communities taxes are not high in Wilmette. You've provided no facts to the contrary.

With all due respect, no one has any way of knowing what an anonymous commenter's true agenda is, and has absolutely no reason to take them at their word.
Web Reference:  http://yochicago.com
1 vote
Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Thu Jan 21, 2010
You keep building a straw man to attack.

I'm a very public person with a strong presence in many venues around the Web. My biases in this matter can be weighed by anyone. And almost everyone but you will see that I'm not in the real estate business.

You're so passionate (I almost said hysterical) about your cause that you owe it to everyone here to identify yourself so that they can assess your biases. In the meantime, all we know about you is your profile: Norfolk, VA arguing about Wilmette!
Web Reference:  http://yochicago.com
1 vote
Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Thu Jan 21, 2010

Sigh. Let me repeat one fact you've apparently, based on your e-mail, failed to grasp: I'm not a Realtor.

Taxes are no more a serious issue in Wilmette than in other North Shore communities. Less, in fact. I think that anyone who does any rational cost-benefit analysis, and who's aware of the impact New Trier has on property values in its district, will gladly pay the additional costs resulting from the referendum. Devaluing New Trier hurts property values far more than a modest tax increase.

Anyone who's interested (which is probably a small part of this readership) can also find info on the referendum at New Trier's site:


There are, in this community, I'm sad to say, a number of people who take the stance that "my kids have graduated from New Trier and I don't want to pay for anyone else's kids to do the same. Just want to keep my taxes down." I'm not, by that, suggesting that's the entirety of opposition to the referendum, only that it's an ugly and short-sighted segment of it.

I moved here when my kids were not yet of school age so that they could some day attend New Trier. My kids and I are glad we did. They'd love to be able to afford to raise their as yet unborn kids here and have them attend New Trier. Whether or not that happens I personally feel an obligation to the children of this community to keep New Trier a first-rate school and physical facility.
Web Reference:  http://yochicago.com
1 vote
John Nash, Agent, Evanston, IL
Sun Nov 22, 2009
I am a Wilmette Realtor, grew up in Wilmette and have lived in Wilmette as an adult since 1994. I admit to being biased, but unabashedly state that Wilmette is the best suburb in Chicago. In terms of location, Wilmette is on the Lake, close to Chicago and has great transportation systems.

Certainly one of the primary draws of Wilmette is the top notch school system. The kids do extremely well on standardized tests consistently performing in the top tier of Chicagoland schools, but in addition the parents are highly involved with very active PTA's that conduct fundraisers and just plain fun activities: ice cream socials, variety shows, dances, etc.

Wilmette has a great park district with parks located all over the village included Wilmette's prized 64 acre lake front park, Gilson Park. Gilson Park has a swimming beach, sailing beach, dog beach, tennis courts, kid play area, outdoor fitness equipment and lots of open fields. My family lives within a short walk of at least 8 different parks or playgrounds. Wilmette also has a fitness center, ice skating rink, indoor tennis courts and a wonderful water park with slides, zero depth pool, toddler pool and lap pool. There is a skate park, soccer fields, and many tennis courts. There is something for everyone and then some.

Wilmette has a Metra train line, and El line, numerous bus routes, and has the interstate highway on its West edge. It is perfectly located for transporation to the Chicago and elsewhere.

Wilmette has a great variety of housing styles and prices ranges. Condos start in the 100's and prices go up to the multi-million dollar lafefront homes. The average home price is high in the upper 700's--down from the upper 900's in 2007, but there are plenty of great homes priced well below the average price. There are many older classic homes, 1950's style homes and new construction.

I love showing home buyers around Wilmette as there are so many positives to reveal. good luck.

John Nash
1 vote
Mark Malave, , Chicago, IL
Fri Jan 23, 2009
Wilmette is terrific and has never been more affordable. The main attraction are the schools, but people stay for the laid back lifestyle and proximity to the city. Transportation options are unmatched, there is the Edens expressway, Sheridan Rd, Metra, Buses and Purple "L" station. There is nearby shopping and dining in addition to great parks and friendly village service. If you have children, there are only 2 areas that can compete with the school system in Wilmette and they are both further away (Highland Park and Barrington). If you are looking for private school, Loyola Academy is one of the best college prep schools in the country.
Web Reference:  http://www.markmalave.com
1 vote
Sara Gordon, , 60091
Wed Jun 11, 2014
It is a pretty community with a low crime rate. The police force is friendly and helpful. However there is heroin in the village, so Wilmette is not immune to the problems that plague the city. We feel safe walking the streets after dark. It is quiet, although some might consider that a "con".
It is considered to have good schools, although we were distinctly disappointed with the quality of the middle school education, especially compared to our school district in suburban Detroit. We also felt that New Trier certainly is "known everywhere" but it seems to coast on this reputation. We moved here for New Trier and we were really disappointed. It did not live up to its reputation; our honor roll child was about 6 months behind in the sciences and math when she started university in Canada.
It is not especially friendly, unless you are from the village or known to be fabulously wealthy.
There is very little fast food in Wilmette, which our family believes to be a big advantage to living in Wilmette. There are a few restaurants.
There are a lot of green areas, such as Centennial Park, that are maintained well.
The drive into the city is HORRIBLE. If you work in the Loop, you need to allow 1.5 hours to be sure to arrive on time in rush hour, although the commute might take as few as 30 minutes or as many as 120 on rare occasions.
The Village appears to care more about developers than residents, and exercises a vigorous double standard in the rules it applies in this regard. It is onerous and expensive to get approval for home improvements.
0 votes
Larry, Home Owner, Wilmette, IL
Mon Dec 26, 2011
Many people have talked about the high taxes here. Good education is not cheap, and nobody ever said living on the North Shore was cheap. If you plan to send your kids to public school, Wilmette taxes are quite reasonable unless you buy one of the "biggies." My house is worth about $600K and the taxes are under $10K.

That said, parents with kids of average to somewhat-above-average ability might want to think twice about sending their kids to New Trier. It's hypercompetitive, and the best teachers are assigned to the highest-track, most talented students. The middle two quartiles of students get a decent education but it's not the Andover of the Midwest or anything like it.
0 votes
Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Fri Mar 4, 2011
Great summary, Orca.

Many may quibble about the school description - preferring Sears in Kenilworth, e.g. over Wilmette elementaries.

WalMart and Target are inconvenient, but not terribly so. My daughter and all her friends shopped the trget on 41 in Highland Park frequently. There's a WalMart on Touhy in Skokie, not all that far. Many prefer the Costco on Willow.
Web Reference:  http://yocihcago.com
0 votes
Wilmette_dad, Home Owner, 60091
Tue Jan 25, 2011
pro: a lot of people will consider New Trier high school as a good school so you can have something to brag about at least.

con: high tax (10% tax levy increase per year), old houses, school spending out of control, elementary schools are not good at all, parents have to supplement because school does not know how to teach ( fuzzy math is a norm at wilmette elementary schools in recent years), school from other towns(Hindsdale, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, etc) are caching up to New Trier. School system is not flexible as neighboring cities as Skokie and Northbrook - no grade skips, no subject based accelerations, if your kids knows how to read before entering kindergarten, he/she still need to sit will other kids who does not even know their ABCs.
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Mon Feb 1, 2010
You will see on the "pro NT web site, the $194,000,000 is "for the future" not for classroom or libraries today.
There are even some "pro" referendum folks who say they are "afraid to cut corners" ....
Below a teacher letter from the Wilmette Life...

live in district teacher wrote:
I am a NTHS teacher and I live in the district and pay taxes here. As a rule I support referendums for schools, but I don't support this one. I think we are asking too much and I think we are not distinguishing between what we want and what we need. There is a difference, in my humble opinion. I would like an underground garage, but I don't think we need one. As one who sees the facilities every day, I honestly believe we can bring an already wonderful school up to speed for a fraction of the cost.

Wes Bauman as well as others have outlined very clearly the serious problems with doing this referendum this way at this time. I am not going to try to recap his clearly articulated opposition.

I just wanted to weigh in on this point. I love NTHS and I don't feel my opposition to this move at this time diminishes my love for this place at all. I am not ashamed to say that I think this is a mistake in the way it is manifested right now. I don't think others should be afraid to feel this way.

My kids go here and I know they are getting a first rate education. So are your kids. Grades and college acceptance are NOT going to be dramatically by the plans outlined in this project.

I am voting NO on this referendum. I hope it doesn't pass and that the district rethinks all of this. When they originally went to the drawing board they came back with huge plans. To their credit, they went back to the drawing board, but they didn't pare things down enough, in my opinion.
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Sun Jan 31, 2010
Recent CBS news coverage of the New Trier Referendum points to the only "con" of living in Wilmette (and the North Shore). There are many newcomers who think "the New Trier Way" is the "Most extravagant" way, not the way of 'substance and achievement".

To over spend on School Improvements, is to risk the quality of so many other North Shore traditions. What about raises for policemen and firemen? I noticed the Village of Wiilmette had a significant budget cut this year due to declining tax revenue. As the greater economy has proven, over leveraged real estate and government spending has consequences.

Here's the direct link to the CBS news video: http://cbs2chicago.com/video/?id=66944@wbbm.dayport.com
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Sat Jan 30, 2010
There is no doubt, Wilmette-Chicago is a better all around proposition than New York (or most east coast cities which also have character, culture and a proud history). As a native of Chicago and 27 year resident of Wilmette--I can honestly root for the Bears and Cubs! In Wilmette, there is always a tension between those who are conservative financially and others who push to spend excessively and risk killing the real estate Golden Goose. Well, with over 200 homes on foreclosure on the North Shore, the goose is not well.

Like I said, the only "con" of Wilmette is the never ending push for more money for New Trier, when New Trier does an excellent job in the current facilities--which have a hefty annual maintenance budge to begin with.

This Feb 2, 2010 referendum is reckless.
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Tue Jan 26, 2010
To anyone contemplating a move to Wilmette, consider the tax implications of the referendum on the Feb 2, 2010 ballot.

As a former resident of Wilmette and school board member, I understand the profound tax and investment implications of this referendum--the largest historical tax increase in Wilmette's history. In a nut shell, this referendum will change the value proposition of property in Wilmette, but this would not be obvious to a buyer until well after the closing and probably until 2012.

for amortization schedule,

Please see http://www.newtrierchoices.org and http://www.lovenewtriervoteno.org

I hope to move back to Wilmette, and retire there....and if this referendum passes, the property will no longer be affordable.

This 2010 referendum is truly the only "con" of living in wilmette--but a big one.
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Sat Jan 23, 2010
Joe, the question posed here originally was "what are the pros and cons of living in Wilmette...

The "con" high taxes and a group of people who never seem to get enough tax revenue...

The anti referendum folks are simply trying to minimize the "con" of living in Wilmette...


http://www.lovenewtriervoteno.org for common sense arguments against the referendum and facts about the balloon mortgage and effect on home values in the not too distant future.
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Sat Jan 23, 2010
http://www.preservationnation.org (below-clip from website) discussing proposals to replace "old parts of Harvard University."

Also on the lovenewtriervoteno.org website,a wonderful essay about the referendum by a NewTrier grad now attending Harvard who says simply, folks with the power to spend will spend just because they can".

A recent United Nations report on the environment estimated that nearly 20 percent of the energy that a building uses in its first 100 years is expended during its construction. By extension, then, making an old building perform better would seem to conserve more energy than replacing its parts. "That's a strong statement," Carroon says, "against tearing out windows and replacing them. The problem is that a lot of homeowners and building managers who want to use less energy believe the window manufacturers when they say that replacing windows is the first thing to do." She calls that argument "greenwashing"—using green rhetoric as a selling point.
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Sat Jan 23, 2010
Joe, I'm no longer a public person and feel no obligation to tell you my life story. I will say that I lived in Wilmette for 27 years and hope to move back some day soon--and sure don't want to see this hysterical referendum ruin Wilmette--a minority of people want to take on a balloon mortgage and greedily dip into "stimulus money"--while other greedy real estate investors market the "foreclosure" conditions in Wilmette right now. Vultures. The pro-referendum people want to purchase beyond what the taxpayers can afford--in order to rebuild New Trier HS. Buy now on balloon credit and leave the bill to the next generation. See amortization schedule.

My identity is not at question here--and I merely direct the home buyers to the web sites concerning the referendum so potential buyers will know--one of the few 'Con's" of living of buying in Wilmette.
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Thu Jan 21, 2010
Joe, your biography below off the Yo Chicago website...realty speculators--folks who want a piece of the troubled real estate action--some reason motivated to ignore the taxes and historically crushing New Trier tax referendum..former attorney???

We are Yo
Joe Zekas

Joe Zekas works at adding to his used-to-be’s: dirt-poor Pennsylvania coal-town kid, shortest in class through 8th grade, New Jerseyan, hitch-hiker, motorcyclist, statistical typist, library clerk, delivery boy, classical scholar wannabe, gas station attendant, tuxedo salesman, psychiatric aide, social worker, civil rights activist, draft-dodger, gun-toting truck driver (Brinks), bartender, temp secretary, Lucey’s Raider, Wisconsinite, large-firm attorney, real estate developer, condo converter, tax shelter syndicator, multi-level marketer, married person, newspaper publisher, money-losing tech gadfly, software developer to name a few.

Joe is Chairman of Data Based Ads and dabbles in YoChicago
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Thu Jan 21, 2010
folks looking at bargains in Wilmette....taxes are a serious "con" of living in Wilmette. The 2010 referendum is a huge threat to the value of a home on the NorthShore. As a former board member, I am intimately familiar with the cook county tax system, property assessments (even the legality of taxing bodies like schools and libraries obstructing property tax petitions) and this referendum ballooning taxes is a real "con". In 2004, Illinois lawmakers put into place a 7% cap on real estate assessment increases for residential property. But, beginning with the 2008 taxes (paid in 2009), the tax cap has begun to disappear, and will be entirely gone in two years. Without that cap in-place, there is no limit on the tax increases you may experience.
If you thought that the average 6.8% tax increase the north shore suburbs just experienced was bad, the tax cap elimination will have the same effect in 2010 and 2011. So, a 6.8% increase for two more years means your taxes will have increased by 21.8% by 2011, and that’s before the New Trier Facilities referendum!
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Thu Jan 21, 2010
Joe, I've now talked to pro and con Referendum folks--and I understand that 90% of the realtors are AGAINST this referendum. Essentially, pro referenda forces (including teachers who don't live in the district) are promoting a balloon method of financing--small initial payments $248 in taxes on $10,000--push big debt to the future. Look around and see where that has gotten our country. For anyone considering a home purchase in Wilmette, facts and future projections of wealth are critical--unless you think bankruptcy is sophisticated. People make a great school-not bricks and mortar. Go to the following web sites for facts and analysis, not one realtor's opinion. http://www.newtrierchoices.org and http://www.lovenewtriervoteno.org
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Thu Jan 21, 2010
Joe, Ducking(?) Referenda of this nature detract from home investments while not improving education one iota. The fact of the matter is that at a special Board meeting New Trier’s consultant presented an amortization schedule based on the Build America Bonds that produced the $248 per $10,000 tax bill. However, it is important to note that New Trier’s final payment in this amortization schedule is approximately 2.5 times higher than the payment in the first year. So, taxpayers will be expected to pay more dollars each year toward this massive debt.

To date, the administration has not been able to provide any numbers regarding the operating expenses of the renovated school in light of increasing the size of the building by an additional 200,000 square feet (an overall increase of 20-25%). Obviously, the maintenance staff will need to be increased in addition to higher heating, cooling and electrical bills.
0 votes
Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Wed Jan 20, 2010

Let me provide the simple, factual perspective that you keep ducking. The New Trier referendum, if passed, will increase property tax bills by approximately 3%. I don't doubt that's a meaningful number to some people, since one of Wilmette's strengths is its relative economic diversity.

I'd respectfully suggest that people reading here focus on your conclusion, which is the same as mine, that Wilmette is a "wonderful" place to live.

I really have no clue what you mean when you suggest that parents are pressured to "supplement" their kids education for them to thrive at New Trier. New Trier itself is a supplement, as is simply living in Wilmette among a highly-educated, caring cohort of parents and people in the community.

Reading your responses leads me to wonder whether you've lost all perspective about what it's like to live here. You're missing the forest by obsessing on something you consider a weed and others view as a flower.
Web Reference:  http://yochicago.com
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Wed Jan 20, 2010
Joe, parents supplement their kids education because they have to--or their kids will not flourish at NT.
Even most realtors know this--but of course they down play it. Were your own kids academically competitive enough to get into University of Illinois for example? Without EVER using supplemental education?

Also, to anyone contemplating a move to Wilmette, which is an wonderful place to live, get a realtor who will be honest with you...I know at least 20 honest realtors who will tell the full story! Good luck--
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Wed Jan 20, 2010
Joe, ..SCHOOL REFERENDA are to homeowners prices in Wilmette. Former Principal of New Trier writes..
Deanna/Wes Baumann <dwbaumann@mac.com>
Add to Contacts
Dear friends and neighbors,

The New Trier facilities referendum is only two weeks away as it will be part of the February 2 primary election. Despite a few letters in the Pioneer Press questioning my reasons for opposing such a referendum, I feel just as strong about my opposition to the size and scope in addition to the cost of the proposed project for all of the reasons I have already put forth in previous letters.

The current economic crisis has affected our township.

· The real estate market is almost at a standstill and numerous real estate offices have closed or consolidated.
· There are about 200 homes in foreclosure or pre-foreclosure.
· There are numerous empty stores throughout our community.
· The food pantry is struggling to keep up with the demand.
· Residents have lost jobs, suffered reduced salaries and are unsure about the stability of their employment.
· Seniors are wondering if they will be able to remain in the community.
There was a wonderful article in the Winnetka Talk written by a 2009 New Trier graduate and Harvard freshman entitled “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.” We have all known that property values have been closely linked to New Trier’s reputation. However, I have spoken to realtors from four different offices that have expressed grave concern about our rising taxes, and they do not favor this large referendum. The owner of one well-known firm believes that as many as 95% of the realtors are opposed to the referendum, but they obviously do not want to say so publicly.

The Board of Education is now using the scare tactic that waiting just one year could significantly increase the overall costs of the project to the taxpayers. The New Trier Board and Administration are basing this on the following assumptions that construction costs could escalate as much as 12% in the next year, interest rates for bonds could also rise and Build America Bonds might not be available after December 2010.

However, the fact of the matter is that:

(1) Construction costs are highly unlikely to increase by any significant percentage in the next year due to high unemployment and lack of construction projects. Increases in construction costs only rarely exceed 10% and then only in economies that are extremely hot! Increases in construction costs will not change until the economy shows dramatic improvement and there is a significant resumption of commercial construction. Most experts are not expecting that to occur until 2012 at the earliest, and the forecast is for unemployment to remain between 9 and 10% through 2011.

(2) Most financial experts predict minimal increases in interest rates in the near future.

(3) Legislation is currently being written in Washington to extend the Build America Bonds’ program beyond December 2010. The fact of the matter is that at a special Board meeting New Trier’s consultant presented an amortization schedule based on the Build America Bonds that produced the $248 per $10,000 tax bill. However, it is important to note that New Trier’s final payment in this amortization schedule is approximately 2.5 times higher than the payment in the first year. So, taxpayers will be expected to pay more dollars each year toward this massive debt.

To date, the administration has not been able to provide any numbers regarding the operating expenses of the renovated school in light of increasing the size of the building by an additional 200,000 square feet (an overall increase of 20-25%). Obviously, the maintenance staff will need to be increased in addition to higher heating, cooling and electrical bills.

At this time, I am asking that any residents who feel as I do and are willing to help to consider the following:

v Volunteer to make phone calls to township residents.

v Volunteer to hand out flyers at the local train stations, grocery stores, and banks.

v Encourage your friends and neighbors to VOTE NO.

v Remind friends and neighbors about absentee voting, especially those who might be going south for the winter. It is easy to vote absentee and you do not need to be out of town to do so.

v Contribute financially to the PAC "LoveNewTrierVoteNo.org" to help fund the 'VOTE NO' campaign, which includes flyers, yard signs, mailings and possible ads in the newspaper. Contributions can be made online!

v Voice your opposition to this referendum by writing a letter to the Pioneer Press.

v Also, let everyone know that Early Voting is taking place now until January 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Centennial Park in Wilmette, 2300 Old Glenview Road.

If you are inte
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Thu Jan 7, 2010
Joe, I'm not sure what you call yourself, 'realtor, condo developer, or what ever "yo Chicago" does, but I always do my homework --as can anyone who would like to find a home in Wilmette. Since you don't seem to live in Wilmette--you might not realize folks in Wimette are politically active and have strong views all along the political spectrum. Folks in Wilmette also like the facts --not a "sell" job. I urge you to get informed about the referendum battle that is raging in Wilmette right now. Better yet, go to a school board meeting...do your homework.

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0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Thu Jan 7, 2010
As a former school board member in Wilmette I know the curriculum and test score trends dating back to 1990 up through this year. Wilmette has struggled with the Math program and the reason test scores are even "acceptable" is because of parents who won't let their kids fail--parents even hire district teachers to tutor their children--and not to just "get an advantage." Please refer to the http://www.illinoisloop.org for a comprehensive explanation of what "liberal and constructivist" curriculum means. The site can be search for specifically Wilmette issues. Buyers--always beware of what realtors like Joe say about the schools and/or test scores.
For years, referenda have been justified by "residents demonstrate support for the schools" by how much they pay in real estate taxes (mostly for the schools). Do the research yourself. Also, see "backyardconservative.com" for details on the upcoming referendum. This referendum is the grand daddy of all Wilmette referenda--and even the former principal of New Trier Wes Bauman is against it--that's how I found out. Why do I care? Because, without the out of control taxes, we could afford to move back--and Wilmette is a fabulous town. ..the best library and Park District in the country--just wish the schools were as good as the library and Park District!! Budget for some extra academic instruction on the side! It's a fact of life in Wilmette.

From http://www.backyardconservative.com

The largest single school referendum in Illiinois history

you can...LOVE NEW TRIER and still VOTE NO FEBRUARY 2nd

Dear Friends & Neighbors,

We all love our children and grandchildren. That's why we settled in this wonderful community. For the schools, the neighborhoods, the shared values.... So why would we settle for the ill-conceived plan New Trier High School is asking us to approve on February 2nd?

Did you know that this $174 million referendum (plus undisclosed interest) is the largest single-school referendum in Illinois history! They're asking this of YOU at a time when our country, our state, and our neighbors are facing unprecedented financial distress. For many reasons THIS IS THE WRONG PLAN FOR THE WRONG TIME!


a.. The $174 million only covers Phase 1. They'll be hitting you up for more later. Their long-range plan is to completely rebuild and expand the Winnetka Campus. Details can be found in the School Board's Long Range Facilities Plan.

see the other 10 points on the website!
0 votes
Joe Zekas, Other Pro, Chicago, IL
Wed Jan 6, 2010
A few comments on the previous comment.

New Trier is not going to be torn down. Portions of it might be, but not the entire school.

Wilmettte taxes are in line with, and in some cases slightly lower than other true North Shore suburbs. There's a high level and quality of municipal services here - and that costs.

I'm not sure what to make of the comments on "liberal" ideas in the curriculum. That's certainly true but, I suspect, no more so than in other affluent school systems throughout the country.

Kids who are extremely strong in math in elementary school have, in some instances, been able to tack advanced math classes at New Trier while they were still in elementary school.
Web Reference:  http://yochicago.com
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Wed Jan 6, 2010
Since the real estate market crash in 2008, the taxes have not been reduced by a proportional amount. You will see homes listing for $100, 000 less than they did at the peak in 2007-08, but the taxes have not come down.
0 votes
Schoolboardl…, Home Buyer, Norfolk, VA
Wed Jan 6, 2010
As a former resident of Wilmette for over 25 years, I believe there is probably no other affluent suburb that has somewhat of an economic spectrum. Our family moved to Virginia before the economic crash of 2008 and I miss the incredible cultural access and high education levels of the community—including a short ride on the L or Metra to Chicago. My youngest of three was in 5th grade when we moved for employment opportunities. So, my kids had incredibly “ privileged” early years.
However, through our experience with the school system, while over all positive, we learned that with full inclusion of abilities the curriculum alone did not meet the needs of kids in the upper 10 percent nationally, which represented half of the Wilmette students. Parents routinely provide foundation and enrichment instruction in math due to an unfortunate “follow the trends” in math education. We considered math achievement the number one academic objective of schools and Wilmette falls short in the math department. (Not unlike many other suburban schools in northern Illinois.) Never, by the way ask a realtor for an honest opinion of the school system.

The curriculum is also infused with mostly liberal ideas including ‘trendy and liberal” literature choices, “social studies” replacing history, –also with a liberal bias. A predominantly “constructivist” pedagogy dominates –expect a lot of cut and paste projects and diorama’s well beyond the grade level—and below the ability level of the average Wilmette student. On this topic, go to the website http://www.illinoisloop.org.

The other recent calamity to hit the Wilmette ( Winnetka, Glencoe, and Northfield) taxpayers, is the completely irrational drive to tear down New Trier High School and rebuild it to the tune of some $80,000,000! The referendum is being cooked up right now (1/2010) and will make Wilmette taxes soar beyond the already high rate.
The school system drove taxes up relentlessly during the time we lived in Wilmette.

The bottom line though, is if we could afford to move back—we would.
0 votes
Averah, Both Buyer And Seller, North Shore, Duluth, MN
Tue Dec 18, 2007
The big downside to Wilmette is the very high taxes. Personally, I would go Evanston over Wilmette, because it is more diverse and has a university, which makes resale slightly easier, or Skokie, whose taxes are lower than Evanston
0 votes
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