2006 05 01 Archive

Village makes Frommer’s listBY MADHU KRISHNAMURTHYDaily Herald Staff WriterMay 20, 2006Many Lake Zurich residents likely woke up this morning not realizing they live in one of the best places in the country.No, really.That is not village public relations speak. Lake Zurich is among the top 100 best places to raise a family in the United States, according to a new book released by Frommer’s, publisher of travel books and other guides.Oak Park is the only other Illinois town that made the list. Neither town made the top 10. Those not in the top 10 are not ranked.Towns were chosen based on their standard of living, education, health and safety, lifestyle, and population profiles.Lake Zurich was chosen because of its “unique heritage, appearance, community resources and overall family feel,” according to Frommer.Another factor in its favor was that 45 percent of its roughly 20,000 population is married-with-children.The recognition was unexpected for Lake Zurich officials, who say though it is no revelation, it validates what they have been saying for years.”It doesn’t surprise me in the sense that we know we have a good school district, good activities facilities,” Village Administrator John Dixon said. “We kind of know we have a good place for families. But to be recognized is really an honor. We could not have guessed that an organization as large as Frommer’s would find us.”Lake Zurich should be proud, says Bert Sperling, co-author of the book, “Best places to raise your family.” Sperling came through town five years ago researching the book. He and co-author Peter Sander looked at about 25,000 communities in the U.S.What Sperling liked most about Lake Zurich is that it still is identifiable as a small town.”It hasn’t been swallowed up by approaching suburbia,” he said. “It still has its own unique sense of place.”Sperling, who lives in Portland, Ore., which didn’t make the list, reassures none of the Top 100 towns lobbied for the ranking.”We looked at all of them through statistics and prices,” he said.His research also involved talking to residents, real estate agents and professionals.”We think we had a really good mix because the numbers tell a story, and people tell a story as well,” Sperling said.Lake Zurich got high marks partly because of the success of its school district. Lake Zurich Unit District 95’s test scores were 33 percent higher than state average at the primary level, and 11.5 percent above state average for high schools.But it takes a good partnership with the community to make schools successful, said Lake Zurich Unit District 95 Superintendent Brian Knutson.”Communities build good schools. It’s an intertwining relationship that’s good for the whole area,” he said. “We got great kids here and a community that supports them, and that’s what makes it a great place to live.”