First rooftop solar system in downtown Aurora generates renewable energy, other benefits...

Local collaborators are celebrating the power of the sun in the “City of Lights” with the completion of a state-of-the-art solar energy generation project in downtown Aurora. In December, a new 56.7 kilowatt (kW) solar power system was installed on the rooftop of the 113-year-old Carnegie library building at 1 E. Benton St., the former home of Aurora’s Main Public Library and now home to Support Techs. This renewable energy system is the first of its kind in Aurora’s historic downtown business district on Stolp Island.After acquiring the former Aurora Public Library building in December 2015, owners of The Support Companies researched ways to reduce operating costs while “going green.” This solar solution was selected to reduce CO2 emissions, reduce dependency on utility companies, and reduce costs over the long term. The new solar photovoltaic (PV) system is projected to reduce 58.72 tons of carbon emissions per year by generating 71,615 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 2018.  The entire project took less than two months to complete. Michelle Knox, owner of WindSolarUSA designed the rooftop system to feature American-made products. Installation teams from local solar professionals at Rethink Electric in Geneva completed the project ahead of schedule.“The city of Aurora’s Building and Permits department was instrumental in making this project a reality. Their advice and efficient processes helped us meet our tight December deadline,” Knox said. “This was a collaborative effort,” she added.Economic advantages of the rooftop system include positive cash flow of $98,285 generated over the life of the system, a 30% federal tax credit, State of Illinois Renewable Energy Credits, and the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). Solar project developers like WindSolarUSA are responsible for understanding current incentives and educating owners throughout the design and installation process. American-made products chosen for the...

Who’s downtown? This week: Dan Barreiro...

Meet the people who make downtown tick. Learn who works in some of our architectural treasures, discover who keeps downtown looking beautiful, and see who you might pass on the street when you’re in the neighborhood. Join us in learning about those who are downtown Aurora. Who’s Downtown Q&A with Dan Barreiro Q: What is your title? A: Chief Community Services Officer, City of Aurora   Q: How do you spend your day in that role? A:  As the Chief Community Services Officer, I have day-to-day oversight of the Community Services Division with a budget of 6.5 million. My team includes Customer Service, Special Events, Neighborhood Redevelopment, Public Art, and Youth and Senior Services. Our division is small (10 full-time and nine part-time), but we have a large impact on the community.  I have the opportunity to help the community in a wide range of areas.  I spend some of my time on administrative tasks but most of my time is spent working with community organizations on partnership initiatives. For example, we will be planning a Mass Care Shelter Drill in 2018, and we will need partners to test our capacity. I am a behind-the-scenes person, but I have a hand in many initiatives supporting my staff as needed. On occasion, I wear different hats due to staff turnover. During those times, I have been more hands on and I appreciate my staff even more.        Q: How long have you worked for the city? A: I have been in this position since 2006 and with the city since 1988.     Q: What is your background? A:   I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science (Local Government) and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from NIU.  My career at the city includes working...

2018 Events List for Downtown Aurora...

2017 was a year full of festive events in downtown Aurora, and 2018 looks to be continuing the trend of an ongoing community party in the heart of the state’s second largest city. Aurora Downtown, a nonprofit group of business and property owners within downtown Aurora’s Special Service Area (SSA) #One, will continue to sponsor and host several events in downtown including First Fridays, a night of art and culture, and Second Saturdays, a summertime event with family-friendly activities. The group is also teaming with Aurora’s Harry Potter Festival for a two-day festival, and will partner with Family Focus for Roots Aurora, as well as the City of Aurora for Winter Lights. Take a look at the full list of exciting events in the New Year brought to you by Aurora Downtown, City of Aurora, and other local groups. Please note that there is no First Fridays in January or July. First Fridays returns on Feb. 2 with art, music, and more plus free trolley rides. Second Saturdays runs from May through September with the exception of June.  February 2. First Fridays March 2. First Fridays 24. Egg Hunt on the Island 29. Museums After Dark April 6. First Fridays 21. Fox River Arts Ramble May 4. First Fridays/Food Truck Festival 12. Second Saturdays 19. Aurora Kite Festival 28. Memorial Day Parade June 1. First Fridays “Illinois Bicentennial” 9 & 10. Aurora’s Harry Potter Festival 20. Wednesdays at the Plaza 21. Museums After Dark July *No First Fridays* 4. 4th of July Parade 14. Second Saturdays 15. On the Wall Hip Hop Festival 18. Wednesdays at the Plaza August 3. First Fridays/Stolp Island Block Party/Roots Aurora 11. Second Saturdays 15. Wednesdays at the Plaza 25. Alley Art Festival TBA. LaSalle Street Auto Row Car...

New public art director puts focus on community-led experiences...

The city of Aurora welcomed Jen Evans this fall as the Aurora Public Art Commission’s new director after former director Rena Church retired in June. Evans first worked with Church and the commission in 2006 as a teacher for ArtWorks, a dual credit program for area high school students. In her new role as director, Evans wants “to provide residents with community-led experiences, education and leadership opportunities in the arts, contribute to the vibrancy of the city through public artwork, and oversee an alliance of cultural stakeholders in the city.” Evans is excited to add more public art within the city: “Something that is interactive with the community, and not just a static sculpture. Something that kids can climb on or in or through; something that’s just dying for a selfie, something that’s really engaging.” The “Swimming Stones,” the moving fountain sculpture located on Benton Street is a prime example of this sort of interactive public art, Evans added. It is this sort of engaging style that Evans is inspired by, and is the direction she hopes to follow for future installations downtown. Evans is also focused on education and engagement. She is looking to create opportunities for local artists and community members to give them space to lead and teach their own art classes and curate shows. Evans plans to utilize the space on the first floor of the David L. Pierce Art and History Center at 20 E. Downer Pl. for these informal art classes led by the community. “You can come organize a poetry slam, or you can come make a mess,” she said. She added that the focus does not even have to be on visual art. Evans is interested in promoting a sense of community cohesion and wants to...

Aurora Film Society launches film screenings in 2018...

A local group aims to bring more films to downtown Aurora. The group of Aurora residents formed Aurora Film Society (AFS) this September to accomplish that goal. AFS was formed to serve as an educational, social, and local resource that provides a shared cinematic cultural experience based in the city center. The film society will offer monthly screenings of curated films as well as special events such as single screenings and festivals that focus on genres such as documentaries, animation, children’s film, and music. The screenings begin in January at the Aurora Regional Fire Museum, 53 N. Broadway. The 2018 film series includes 12 films on alternating Thursdays. If membership is large enough, the group will offer two screenings a month. The movie loft, located on the second floor of the museum, seats approximately 60. Yearly subscriptions are required to attend the monthly film screenings. Three subscription levels are offered. The basic level at $50 includes one admission to each monthly film screening. Admission is transferrable, but not refundable. For more information on subscription levels or to purchase a subscription, visit aurorafilmsociety.org. Karl Nicholas is the board president. Board members include Jeanne Norris, Kyle Reeves, Vicki McCoy, Karen Nicholas, and Helen Ratzlow. “These screenings will be held downtown so as to avail ourselves of local restaurants, pubs, and bars for post-screening discussion. Our special events and film festivals will draw patrons from the wider region, with the likely result of more patronage to downtown businesses,” Norris...