Palos Hills has pegged a self-employed architect as its new building commissioner.
The city council voted 7-0 with one abstention to appoint Paul Hardison as building commissioner during the meeting Feb. 18. The Palos Park resident was to begin work the following day, he said.
Aldermen Joan Knox (1st Ward) and Mark Brachman (2nd Ward) were not present for the vote. Ald. A.J. Pasek (3rd Ward) abstained from voting. He declined to give a reason why when asked by The Reporter after the meeting.
Hardison, who has served as an architect for multi-family, commercial, retail, medical and municipal developments, said the reason to seek out the position in Palos Hills was an easy one.
“I lived in the Palos community since 2006 and I just love it down here – I love everything about this area,” said Hardison, who grew up in Barrington. “When I learned about the job opening and saw that it was something that I could do to benefit the community, I was pretty eager to send in my resume.
Hardison, who earned his degree in architecture from the University of Illinois-Chicago, was hand-picked by Mayor Gerald Bennett from a pool of seven applicants. Although Bennett was absent from the meeting last week, several city officials spoke highly of his recommendation.
“We got a copy of his resume and it is very impressive,” Ald. Pauline Stratton (2nd Ward) said of Hardison. “I believe he will be a nice addition (for Palos Hills).”
“He has a wonderful background,” added Ald. Marty Kleefisch (1st Ward) said. “His background is architecture but he knows all the building codes, which is extremely important. He’s been involved in the design and construction of different kinds of buildings.”
Hardison replaces Gene Newman, a plan commission member and architect, who was named to the position in November following the death of Gene Nelson. When Newman was appointed by the council to the position it was a part-time job. The city has since decided to make the building commissioner a full-time job, and Newman indicated to Bennett he would not be interested in taking on the position on a full-time basis.
“I’d like Palos Hills to be a place everybody wants to do work, and I just want to do the best job I can,” Hardison said.
The position is expected to have a salary of around $75,000, Bennett said at the council meeting earlier this month.
Hardison and his wife, Diana, have two sons, ages 9 and 11. Diana is an active member of the Palos School District 118 Parent Faculty Association, he said.
In other news, Palos Hills Public Works Commissioner Dave Weakley said the Illinois Department of Transportation’s project to improve the intersection of 111th Street and Southwest Highway “is gonna happen,” although an exact start date is not yet known.
Among the work planned for the federally-funded project is the installation of dedicated right-turn lanes at three of the intersections four corners, curb and storm sewer work, and construction of a small paved path to link to the existing path further south on Southwest Highway.
The new turn lanes will be approximately 12 to 13 feet wide and will utilize existing right-of-way, Weakley said. A dedicated turn lane is not in the plans for the corner where Walgreens is located, he said.
“We were asking if (IDOT) could improve intersection functionality so that’s how the dedicated turn lanes came about,” Weakley said. “In terms of stacking, there should be room for about five cars in each.”
Weakley said whenever the project does begin to expect traffic delays and backups. However, because IDOT has not yet bid the project there is no timetable for the improvements.
The paved path will be around 600 feet long and will provide continuity with the Cal-Sag Trail. It will also make it easier for those biking or walking to the Metra station, he said.