Alderman makes preservation a priority

By Libby John

An attempt to save an old post office convinced 3rd Ward Alderman Steve Kapitan to run for the DeKalb City Council.

“The city had worked out a subsidy to bring in Walgreens,” Kapitan said. “They had discussed it in closed meetings.”

By that time, the council already had decided to bring in the store, 100 W. Lincoln Highway.

“There was a lot of public opposition because it was a destruction of a historic building,” Kapitan said.

Following the episode, Kapitan entered the city council race and won the seat in 1995.

One of the important issues Kapitan said he worked on was the Pleasant Street area revitalization program, which is three years underway.

“It is a beautification project,” he said. “There was a lot of physical work done.”

He also has worked on the revitalization of Short Street, where there was a few apartments buildings in bad condition, he said.

“It had very little parking and it couldn’t attract good tenants,” Kapitan said. “It was not a healthy influence.”

Now, that area has three single-family homes, one of which was built by Habitat for Humanity, an organization which builds homes for low-income families.

Mayor Greg Sparrow and Kapitan are the only council members remaining from Kapitan’s freshman year in the council.

Since Sparrow rejoined the council in 2001, the council is concentrating more on residential growth, Kapitan said.

The council needs to do is finalize the comprehensive plan to manage growth of the city, he said.

He also plans on working with new City Manager Mark Biernacki when he comes into office.

“While I opposed the hiring of the new city manager, I plan on working with him in the best interests of the city,” Kapitan said.

Kapitan said most community members talk to him about their concerns, such as neighbor issues and parking.

Kapitan also is involved in the DeKalb Interfaith Network for Peace and Justice and the League of Women Voters.