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Briefly: Bellwood’s Looking To Build More Homes, Northlake Endorses Climate Action Plan, More

The site at 4901 St. Charles Rd. in Bellwood, which used to be a gas station. Bellwood wants to build two single-family homes on the lot. | File 

Sunday, October 24, 2021 || By Government Editor || @maywoodnews 

Briefly is a weekly roundup of what’s happening in Proviso Township municipal government. Here, we give you news snippets based on a reading of board meeting minutes, agendas, supporting materials —all available online — and interviews with elected officials. At the bottom, we’ve included a listing of upcoming board meetings scheduled to take place between Oct. 25 and Oct. 31. 

Bellwood looking to build two new homes

Bellwood is looking to construct two more single-family homes, continuing a pattern of governmental housing development started under former mayor Frank Pasquale. 

The village is eyeing a vacant lot at 4901 St. Charles Rd. in Bellwood on which to build the two new homes, which will have the addresses of 130 49th Avenue and 132 49th Avenue.

On the agenda of the regular meeting held Oct. 20, village officials cited the “overwhelming success of the Village’s program pertaining to the construction of single-family homes,” as a reason for building even more. 

Last year, the village applied for a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) for the site, in order to help pay the cost of cleaning up the site, which used to be a gas station.

Berkeley steps closer to building a pedestrian path 

The village of Berkeley is making some progress toward its goal of constructing a walking path for pedestrians called the Industrial Pedestrian Connector, which is designed to “provide regional enhancements and create a safer walking route for workers in the Berkeley and the Bellwood industrial area to reach the Metra Station, buses and other destinations,” according to a summary of the project available online.

“The Industrial Pedestrian Connector project is located along McDermott Drive from Wolf Road to the detention pond, around the detention pond south of McDermott Drive and east of Morris Avenue, and along Morris Avenue from the detention pond to St. Charles Road.”

The village is looking to construct a roughly $250,000 flood control basin parking lot next to a new public works storage building its constructing. The parking lot is for people who may want to drive to the pedestrian path.

The storage building is meant to replace the open-air storage space beneath the I-294 bridge at the west end of Electric Avenue, which will no longer be available for use due to the planned Central Tri-State Tollway expansion.

“We’re trying to get grants to put a walking path around the flood control project on the northeast side of town,” Espiritu said recently, adding that by building the parking lot at the same time as the new building, the village will save money. 

“We can achieve some economies of scale by doing them at the same time, since you’re pouring concrete and putting up utilities [with both of those projects],” he said. 

The new building (and presumably the parking lot) should be completed sometime around spring 2022, village officials said. 

Berkeley is still in the design phase of the pedestrian pathway project. The village board voted Oct. 19 on a roughly $72,000 contract with Hancock Engineering to conduct design services. Espiritu estimated that the total pedestrian path project could cost between around $400,000 and $500,000. The village is still looking for more funding. 

Broadview joins Westchester in mulling pension bonds 

In August, we reported that the village of Westchester is considering whether or not to issue pension bonds in order to comply with a state law that requires municipalities to bring their public safety pensions up to 90% funded by 2040. 

Representatives with Stifel, a Midwestern brokerage firm, made their pitch for the funding instruments at the Westchester board’s Aug. 24 Committee of the Whole meeting. 

On Sept. 15, the same Stifel representatives — Tom Reedy, the director of the firm’s Illinois Public Finance office and Jeremy Newtson, a managing director with the firm — were on hand during a Broadview Finance Committee meeting. 

Reedy said Broadview’s total unfunded police and fire pension liability is about $43 million, or about 55% funded, according to the most recent actuarial valuation. 

Issuing a pension bond would immediately bring the village up to 100% fully funded, he said. The village could then be able to take advantage of historically low interest rates while paying down the debt. 

“In exchange for making that payment to the fund, you’d then owe bond payments to investors at [a] lower market rate of about 2.27% where the fund would be able to invest those proceeds and earn what it assumes is a 6.5% or 7% rate of return.” 

Reedy and Newston said Broadview could save an estimated $25 million if it issued the pension bonds, as opposed to trying to pay down the pension debt at the current interest rate of “6% or 7%.” 

Of course, there are drawbacks (i.e., interest rates rise, the market tanks, etc.). You can read about them (and Reedy’s and Newston’s response to those potential drawbacks) here. 

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Maywood to host town hall, finalizing new commission structure 

The village of Maywood will host a town hall on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., inside of Council Chambers at 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood, to discuss how it will spend American Rescue Plan Act funding. 

Nine suburbs in the Village Free Press readership were slated to receive $16.3 million of that funding, according to Illinois data. Maywood’s allocation is at around $3.1 million. 

Meanwhile, Maywood Mayor Nathaniel George Booker is accepting applications for prospective commissioners. In August, Booker’s consolidation of the village’s 19 different commissions and committees went into effect. 

Most of those commissions and committees have been merged into six committees that will be chaired and co-chaired by Maywood trustees. The commissions that are still active include: the fire and police pension fund commissions, the liquor authority, historic preservation, planning and zoning, and traffic and safety, Booker said.

Commissioners should apply or reapply for commission seats by Friday, Nov. 19. Booker said they can get an application by contacting LaSondra Banks, the village’s director of community engagement. For more information, visit: maywood-il.gov.

On Oct. 19, Booker also announced the scheduled meeting times of the new trustee-chaired committees, which are below: 

  • Planning and Development, chaired by Trustee Antonio Sanchez, will meet every third Monday at 2 p.m. 
  • Fiscal Accountability and Government Transparency, chaired by Trustee Miguel Jones, will meet every third Monday at 5:30 p.m. 
  • Public Safety and Police Accountability, chaired by Trustee Aaron Peppers, will meet every fourth Thursday at 6 p.m. 
  • Engagement and Communications, chaired by Trustee Isiah Brandon, will meet every third Monday at 6:30 p.m. 
  • Infrastructure and Sustainability, chaired by Trustee Melvin Lightford, will meet every fourth Thursday at 6:30 p.m. 
  • Policy and Ordinance Committee, chaired by Trustee Shabaun Reyes-Plummer, will meet every third Monday at 1 p.m. 

All of the meetings will take place in Council Chambers, 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood.

Northlake passes cannabis ordinance, endorses climate plan, agrees to Wolf Road traffic signal trial, more 

During a regular meeting on Sept. 13, the Northlake City Council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance regulating the sale of cannabis in town. Among several provisions, the ordinance establishes the hours of operation of an adult use dispensary as “daily between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.” 

During the same meeting, village officials said that “a new area code (464) will soon be introduced to this area, but no official word yet on how and when.” 

The City Council also discussed Wolf Road traffic signal equipment, from Soffel Avenue to Winters Drive, “being set to a flashing red light from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.,” for safety purposes. “It was agreed this will have a 30-day trial period to see how it goes,” according to the meeting minutes. 

The Council also approved the Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Transition Plan, a draft of which you can read here. 

During a meeting on Oct. 4, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution endorsing the 2021 Climate Action Plan for the Chicago Region, a measure launched on July 13 by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, in partnership with other groups, including the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Westchester swears in five new officers, approves police contract, agrees to St. Joe’s feasibility study 

During a regular meeting on Oct. 18, Westchester Village President Frank Perry swore in five new police patrolmen: Kamil Cwerwoka, Christopher Stock, Kevin Tierney, Collin Lochridge and Mark Tomasik. 

The board voted unanimously to hire Gruen and Gruen Associates to conduct an analysis into the feasibility of turning the old St. Joseph High School, 10900 Cermak Rd. in Westchester, into a youth sports complex. The board discussed the possibility during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Sept. 28. 

The board also voted unanimously to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the union representing all full-time sergeants in the Westchester Police Department. 

“This collective bargaining agreement was up [April 30, 2021]. I think we did this probably in record time — very little meetings with attorneys, so saved us some money there,” said Westchester Village Manager Paul Nosek. 

“It kind of mirrors the contract we just did with the patrol officers,” he said, before saying that both sides “seem to be happy with the arrangement. To me, it seems like a fair deal.” 

Upcoming Village Board Meetings (Oct. 25 – 31) 

Hillside | The next regular meeting of the Hillside village board is Monday, Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m., in the boardroom of the Municipal Complex, 425 Hillside Avenue in Hillside.

Melrose Park | The next regular meeting of the Melrose Park village board is Monday, Oct. 25, 6 p.m., inside of  the village board meeting room located on the first floor of the Melrose Park Police Department, 1 N. 19th Ave. in Melrose Park.

Stone Park | The next regular meeting of the Stone Park village board is on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m., at Village Hall, 1825 N. 32nd Ave. in Stone Park. 

Westchester | The next regular meeting of the Westchester village board is on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m., inside of the Village Hall Board Room, 10300 Roosevelt Rd. In Westchester. 

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