1 year ago


The Orland Park Prairie 021617

4 | February 16, 2017 |

4 | February 16, 2017 | The orland park prairie news McLaughlin, Dodge field questions about finances, economic development, more Meredith Dobes Freelance Reporter For one hour this past week, from the comfort of their own homes, Orland Park residents had the opportunity to ask Mayor Dan McLaughlin and Trustee Jim Dodge any questions they chose during the Village’s fourth Telephone Town Hall. The focus of the meeting — which residents could join by calling a teleconference number — was primarily on Village finances, but other topics were discussed throughout. The last three telephone town halls focused on traffic congestion; police and public safety; and Village finances, respectively. McLaughlin said there were so many questions regarding finances that the Village decided to focus on the same topic a second time. “This is part of an ongoing effort on behalf of the full board to make sure we do everything we can to keep people updated and open lines of communication,” Dodge said. Finances Callers inquired about the likes of property taxes and debt service information about Ninety7Fifty on the Park. Water rates were the focus of another caller, who wondered why they continue to rise. McLaughlin said that because the Village receives its water from Oak Lawn, which receives its water from Chicago, rates set by Chicago have increased 25 percent three years in a row and then between 13-15 percent. “We’ve seen some considerable increases,” he said. “In the meantime, mayors in the southwest water line out of Oak Lawn have been meeting to build a second line to add capacity and to add the possibility of continuing water service when the line breaks somewhere. If a water main breaks down, there’s actually no water coming out this way for so many hours, or a day or two. “A dual line would add capacity and duplication of the service we need. It’s a very expensive project. The price of water will continue to go up a little bit over the next couple years, as we average into rates.” McLaughlin added that because the Village uses four-tier pricing, the less water a household uses, the less it pays per thousand gallons. One of the final financial questions involved the mayor’s shift from a part-time to a full-time position. The caller wanted an explanation of why the shift was made. “The Village Board made a business decision to avoid hiring two more full-time positions,” McLaughlin said. “The job of the mayor going full-time makes us able to fill the needs of an economic development coordinator and assistant Village manager. It saves $750,000 over the next four years.” Dodge said the board saw the opportunity as a cost-effective way to fill positions because of the mayor’s abilities. “We’ll do this for the purpose of four years and see how it goes,” Dodge said. “One of our things is to test and learn. That’s some of the thinking from the board and how we got to that point.” Economic development and infrastructure Though the focus of the town hall officially was on finances, the majority of callers’ questions focus on economic development and infrastructure in the village. A few callers were interested in the development of the Interstate 80 corridor, along La Grange Road. McLaughlin said when the Village first annexed the corridor and created Orland Parkway, it was successful in recruiting businesses like Horton and Saint Xavier to purchase land and build on space, but after the Great Recession interest slowed. “We’ve been working for almost two years to develop a comprehensive plan for the Village and landowners that we think would agree with the area,” he said. “It’s in Will County, so it’s twothirds less tax on businesses. We think because of the comprehensive plan, we’re in a good position to start marketing and developing again, now that the economy is coming back.” He later added, in response to another caller’s question, that the Village, as well as the property owner and its real estate agency, will work to market the land. The downtown area of Orland Park was another concern for a few callers. One resident questioned what happened to the concept of a walkable downtown. The mayor said the approximately 27 acres of land in the downtown area is still being developed, and once it is the intention is for all of it to be pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented and mixeduse residential, commercial and office. The University of Chicago parking lot — for which U of C paid approximately 70 percent of the cost — is necessary for the area, and there will be more development downtown in the next year, he added. Two other callers questioned whether improving public transportation through increased access to the southern portion of Orland Park and through faster rail service would be possible. McLaughlin said the Village is always working with Metra and Pace to request more service and has been successful in getting some additional services, but it is an ongoing discussion. He said that once Metra extends farther south, he hopes it will need to add more trains to its schedule. “The one thing we probably won’t ever have is express service, which we’d need two tracks for,” McLaughlin said. “That’s what the west suburbs have.” Another caller said she lives in the Creekside subdivision and wants access to the Village’s bike trails but is trapped in by 143rd Street and Wolf Road. McLaughlin said 143rd Street is a State road, and the Village is in the process to trying to improve it from the downtown area to Will- Cook Road. The bike trail extension is dependent upon the road work. Phase I engineering has been completed, and the Village is in the process of Phase II engineering. It recently worked out an arrangement with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County for a needed rightof-way. “When the road is widened, the flooded area will be taken care of,” McLaughlin said. “That will be addressed with widening and improvement. The State has not put it in the budget yet. The Village came up with the engineering money and forest preserve negotiations and is now lobbying for [the Illinois Department of Transportation] and State to include money for construction in the budget. We’re hoping sooner rather than later the next couple years.” Safety A couple of residents had questions regarding public safety that were directed to Police Chief Tim McCarthy. One caller asked if there is a strong enough police presence at Orland Square Mall, as she reads about purses being stolen at the mall. McCarthy said he has dozens of officers assigned to patrol in and around the mall, and statistics show that the mall is one of the safest in the Chicago area. “I assured there have been few or no crimes against persons,” he said. “There have been property crimes. Those are often difficult to detect. ... This has been one of the safest shopping seasons we have had. More can be done. We’ve assigned officers and do as much as we can with what we have. We’re pretty well-staffed and will continue to work on it.” CLEWS From Page 3 to have Moore back home, and with the help of three other women, they planned the surprise welcome home parade. At the school, Moore was greeted by Brennan’s classmates and parents, and the parade was complete with colored “thank you” notes, a specially-decorated chair for the sergeant and cookies (well hidden from little hands until it was time for the treat). “It’s kind of surreal to have him back,” April said. “It’s pretty amazing. There are some times where I get a hug from him, and you forget how it feels.” April said she was glad that this tour was on the shorter side, and that with three children, she is happy to have her husband home. “Luckily, he was at a base that had good internet communications,” April said. “We were able to FaceTime him. So, that kind of eased, especially McKayla, to be able to see him a little bit more than some other deployments.” Tech Sgt. Moore has been in the National Guard for the past 17 years and has served in five deployments. April and Adam have been through two deployments together since their marriage nine years ago, the first of which occurred just one day after their wedding. Adam said that while he was “humbled” by the school’s parade, the experience was a little overwhelming at first. He talked about his adjustment to life as a civilian again, after being away for a little more than six months. He added that it takes some time to get back into the groove of being back home. “That’s one thing that people don’t understand when we come back,” Moore said. “It can be a little overwhelming, because of the fast pace and the people around you. You have to be cognizant of your surroundings.” But he credited his family in helping him make a successful transition to civilian life. April added that Brennan has not left his father’s side since his return. “At times, I feel a little overwhelmed with the kids running around, and I have to take a few minutes and walk away and catch my breath and stuff,” Adam said. “Having the kids is a big relief. They help bring me down. They help ground myself a little bit more, too.” news the orland park prairie | February 16, 2017 | 5 Orland Park Village Board Orland Park pet owners given reason to rejoice Jon DePaolis, Freelance Reporter Pets are about to have a seat at the table once again. The Village of Orland Park Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a Village code amendment Feb. 6 that will allow Orland Park restaurants to accept dogs in outdoor seating areas. The code amendment was approved as part of the board’s consent agenda, and allows a food service facility to allow dogs in outdoor seating areas, providing certain safety requirements are met. “We had several requests ... from the business community,” Trustee Kathleen Fenton said after the meeting, using Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery as an example. “This is now just putting everything to compliance, because currently the only ordinance that we did have on the books was to allow service dogs. “Now, this will allow people to bring their pet dogs to an outdoor seating area. They have to be on a leash and be wellbehaved. And now restaurants can have [pet-themed] events and be in accordance with the law.” The Village adheres to the 2013 Food and Drug Administration code for its regulations, according to a Village memo. The amendment requires 15 items to be met, including. • A separate entrance for dogs to enter without having to go through the restaurant to reach the outdoor seating area • Warning signs at all entrances to the outdoor seating area that label the area a “dogfriendly” space • No food service for the dogs • No food preparation outdoors, including mixing of drinks • Tables and chairs must be Round It Up A brief recap of action and discussion from the Feb. 6 meeting of the Orland Park Village Board. • As part of the consent agenda, Orland Park trustees voted unanimously to approve the appearance review for the Townhomes at Colette Highlands. This was a previously discussed item that will allow for a certain number of rooftop decks to be built on the properties. • Trustees also passed as part of the consent agenda a land development code amendment designating the regional mixed-use campus district along the Interstate 80 corridor. • The Village Board voted 7-0 to reject a bid and reissue a request for proposals for the printing of the VIllage’s periodicals. Staff stated that they received just one bid in the original RFP process, and it was over budget. sanitized before a new patron is seated • Restaurant employees cannot touch the pets while working • Any excrement from the dog must be cleaned immediately, and the area must be sanitized right after cleanup “I think what it will do is allow the businesses to be able to reach out to another group of individuals who are very passionate about [bringing] their dogs with them wherever they go,” Fenton said of the rationale behind the decision. “For a lot of people, [their dogs] are part of their family. This is what they want, and this is very positive for them.” Orland Park Village Board Officials talk about participating again in Illinois Assist program Tech chief looks to revamp call system for Village Jon DePaolis, Freelance Reporter First-time homebuyers may once again have the opportunity to receive assistance, if the Orland Park Village Board follows the recommendation of one of its committees. During the Village of Orland Park’s Finance Committee Feb. 6, trustees voted 3-0 to recommend the Village Board approve an ordinance that would allow for the transfer of the 2017 volume cap with private activity bond issues. This would allow the Village to continue to participate in the Illinois Assist program, which uses municipal volume cap allocations to assist first-time homebuyers. According to a Village memo provided in the meeting agenda documents, seven families utilized the Illinois Assist program to purchase a home in Orland Park for a total purchased value of $1.3 million. The money allocated from the program may assist homebuyers with either closing costs or toward the down payment of the home. First-time homebuyers using the program must be purchasing a home with a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. Sons of Italy to grant college scholarships High school students must apply by July 1 Submitted by Illinois Sons of Italy Foundation “I think the benefit is to attract young homebuyers to our community,” Trustee Carole Griffin Ruzich said after the meeting. “Otherwise, they might not have been able to afford the downpayment. This is a help to them. I think it’s very good, and we always look forward to young families joining our Village.” Ruzich added, “It doesn’t go against our debt limit, so we’re able to transfer this volume cap, which allows them to sell bonds and provide an incentive. We have a great staff that is always looking for those types of opportunities to help our residents, as well as future residents.” The Illinois Sons of Italy Foundation — an Orland Park-based organization — recently announced that graduating high school seniors who are full or partially of Italian ancestry are invited to compete for college scholarships in the amount of $1,000 each, to be awarded by the foundation. The scholarships are to be awarded to qualified students who will graduate this year from any recognized public or private high school within the Chicagoland area. Applicants are to be selected upon the basis of financial need, scholastic achievements, activities in high school showing character and leadership, applicant’s personal essay Call system may be implemented in future During the Technology, Innovation and Performance Improvement Committee meeting, trustees discussed the possibility of improving residents’ engagement experience by implementing a 311 call center and ticketing platform. The existing system, as explained by Frank Florentine, the Village’s chief technology officer, is such that when residents call Village Hall for a complaint, they are transferred to a specific department. “As we look at making our processes more efficient and becoming a high-performing organization, knowing what we don’t know really becomes germane,” he said. “We take a lot of calls to a lot of different departments today, and we don’t really know the number of calls or the quality of calls or the follow-up of those calls.” In order to better manage that, Florentine said he hopes to implement a central call center, which would direct all incoming calls for the Village to one station. “[Staff] would generate tickets for residents’ concerns,” he said. “Those concerns will be managed by the departments and allow us as a Village Manager’s office to actually see what is going on in the Village — how many calls are coming in and being able to provide some metrics on what we need to do to improve services in one area or another.” Trustee James Dodge said going this route could help improve the process in the future. “If we just did a quick map of how people call the Village for service, they may take it upon themselves to self-diagnose [the department to call],” Dodge said. He said it will be a lot easier to capture what is going on if the system is centralized. This was a discussion-only item, and no action was taken. and faculty recommendations. Applications can be obtained by contacting the Illinois Sons of Italy Foundation, in writing, at 9447 W. 144th Place, Orland Park, IL, 60462 (include a self-addressed, stamped envelope), or via email at osiail@ or Applications are available now, and must be completed at returned to the foundation office by July 1. Winners are to be notified on or before Aug. 31. visit us online at