LETTERS: Think Big Maywood

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 || LETTERS || @maywoodnews 

It has been an honor to serve the residents of the village of Maywood for the past five years. In efforts to keep our residents engaged with current happenings within the village, I wanted you to be aware of some recent developments on the village board.

In the area of development, at our Tuesday, July 14, board meeting, Xsite Real Estate came to the village board and presented a proposal on developing the property adjacent to the Burger King on First and Lake Street.

The proposed project is a Popeyes Chicken restaurant. As I stated to the developers that evening, I was not excited by having another Popeyes Chicken in town, especially since we already have one in town on 13th and Roosevelt.

It is my strong belief that we must work together to chase a collective vision for this community. The same developer is expected to build a higher end development adjacent the Widows’ Home. I do not believe that a Popeyes Chicken is going to compliment what the developers have proposed for that other property.

The vote to direct staff to move forward with a redevelopment agreement was close, with four voting yes and three voting no. I believe that now, it’s time to hear from the residents of the village of Maywood on what you want to see in your community.

COVID-19 has taught us that unhealthy lifestyles lead to further complications and our fight to better the lives of Black and Brown communities in equity and fairness has been validated. We are public servants working on your behalf and it is important that we make decisions with our residents in mind. I encourage Maywoodians to call members of the board to encourage them to think big on behalf of our community.

I also proposed to the village board to expand our facade program within our TIF areas to provide more assistance to our community and to make our business district with TIF areas more attractive. This proposal could also be an additional tool to attract business to those areas. The proposal would allow a $50,000 matching grant for businesses to upgrade their electrical, plumbing, roofing, landscaping and interior design. Changing the name from the Façade Program to the Business Improvement Program.

In the area of police reform, I presented and received the support from my board colleagues to establish a database system that will allow the village to track excessive force cases throughout the village. This is one best practice model to curb excessive force cases within the village.

I proposed to the board to direct staff to identify the best way to establish Juneteenth as an official holiday within the village of Maywood. I offered to present the holiday as an alternative option to Columbus Day.

I have been working closely with the village manager when it relates to keeping our residents, employees and businesses safe in the midst of this pandemic. Back in March, after attending a briefing on Covid-19, I asked the manager to convene a Keep Maywood Safe task force to identify a strategic plan to help bend the curve.

In the month of June, I worked with faith-based leaders, businesses, community leaders and community organizations from across the region to organize the biggest march protesting the injustice against minorities that we have seen in Proviso Township.

The theme of the march was love, unity and justice. People joined in from all over to participate, there was a natural heartfelt energy amongst about a thousand marchers from all ethnicities to make our voices heard together. The march started in Bellwood and ended in the village of Forest Park, with mayors and village officials from those respective towns involved and participating.

I also introduced a new initiative called Step UP Maywood to help lend a hand to those who are truly in need at this time. We have been able to provide over 400 meals to the Housing Forward homeless population. Our pledge is to continue to find ways to assist this organization. 

As we prepare to enter phase two of our initiative, we have identified another community organization to assist that we will be announcing in the coming days, so be on the lookout for the announcement.

Let us all remember that Maywood is a community with so many great talents and assets — from our strong housing stock to our prime location — and a rich history. We must work together to create a resilient and thriving community.

As always, Maywood, I am working with you in mind.

— Isiah Brandon, Maywood trustee

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