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 in the Mayor’s Office, Human Resources, the Finance Department, and Community Services.
Q: What downtown projects have you worked on?
A: My first downtown project was the Pinney Street SSA which funded the deck on the rear side of the buildings on West New York Street. The project also provided screening of the garbage containers which improved the aesthetics of the businesses. My most recent projects were the Heart of America Mural and the Downtown Public Art Mural Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP was awarded to the GreenLife Media group for a mural on LaSalle and Benton. The Heart of America Mural is located on the 2nd floor of the Santori Public Library.
I was also part of the team that saw substantial completion of the Grand Army of the Republic Museum (GAR) that resulted in its opening in 2016. I attended the 2017 Illinois Association of Museums to receive an award on behalf of the city for the GAR’s recognition as small institution of the year.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Implementation of city goals for 2018. As a division we will be working on youth program evaluation, develop a capacity building program for Neighborhood Groups, Implementation of the Section 108 Revolving Loan Fund to support small businesses, promote grass roots organization events that bring visitors to Aurora, Improve the Customer Relations Management System resolution time, and amend the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area Plan.
Another exciting event is our annual Experience Aurora Homeownership Expo. This year, we are partnering with the Illinois Realtor’s Association. We are planning to grow this annual event to commemorate Illinois’s bicentennial celebration. The event will take place in the downtown and will feature trolley transportation to historic points of interest.
Q: What are your goals for downtown Aurora?
A: We will continue a long standing goal of supporting downtown initiatives as a division. We support events through Neighborhood Festival Funding and in-kind support. We also assist organizations with the Special Event Permit process for festivals, walks and runs. Many of which take place in the downtown. Community Services also organizes three parades, hosts the July 4th evening activities and fireworks, Winter Lights, Civil War Saturdays, and we participate in First Fridays. I would like to see downtown events grow and attract more people to help support our downtown businesses.
One of my long term goals is to obtain funding to complete the lower level of the GAR Museum to provide space for rotating exhibits. I would also like to get the museum accredited by the American Association of Museums.
The downtown is the heart of our city and when it prospers the quality of life improves for all of us.
Q: Any specific goals for 2018?
A: The 2018 City Budget includes funding for a second Public Art mural in the downtown and funding for acquisition of an additional art piece for the sculpture garden. It will be exciting to work on these additions to the downtown with the Aurora Public Art Commission.
Q: What is your favorite thing about downtown?
A: I really appreciate the architecture and the history behind some of the buildings. Some of my favorite downtown buildings are located on Stolp Island. The most interesting building on the island is located at 77 S. Stolp Ave. which was the former home of the Elks Club. This building was built in 1926 in the Mayan Revival Style.
Q: Where can people find you downtown?
A: I am located at 51 E. Galena Blvd. I can see Fox Valley United Way and Aurora Fastprint across the street from our office window.
Q: How can people get in touch with you?
A: I can be reached by contacting the city’s call center at (630) 256-4636 or at email@example.com.
Editor’s note: The state of Illinois turns 200 in 2018. Along with other events, First Fridays on June 1 will be part of the Illinois Bicentennial Celebration.