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Stolen car leads to burglary charges

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  A stolen car was the key to Evergreen Park police arresting four individuals involved in several recent resident burglaries in the area, police said.
  Police on Oct. 20 spotted a car at the Shell station in the 2600 block of 87th Street. The car was reported stolen 30 minutes earlier from a residence in Evergreen Park.

  Police later learned that the car’s keys were taken during a Sept. 6 residential burglary and that the driver and three passengers were involved in several burglaries in the area.
  A subsequent search of an abandoned building in the 8200 block of Kedzie Avenue in Chicago revealed several items which were taken during the burglaries, police said.
  Christopher A. Sparks, 30, and Robin M. Fields-Tiner, 23, both of Chicago, were charged with retail theft. Ryan N. Fields-Tiner, 22, of Chicago was charged with unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle, and Levert P. Wragg, 59, of Chicago, was charged with criminal trespass to motor vehicle.

  The investigation is ongoing and has revealed the offenders’ involvement in incidents in Chicago, police said.

Battering Rams

  • Written by Ken Karrson

Reavis treated roughly by inspired Bulldogs


  Evergreen Park certainly did Reavis no favor.
  By squeezing out a victory over Richards in the closing seconds of a Week 5 showdown between two unbeaten squads, the Mustangs no doubt put Bulldogs players in an ugly frame of mind. Richards coach Tony Sheehan didn’t deny it, but stated that his guys used the Evergreen “wake-up call” in a positive manner.
  “This was probably one of our best weeks of practice,” Sheehan said. “The kids were really focused. I think they realize what’s in front of them and what’s at stake, and we came ready to play Friday night.”
  Did they ever. While the visiting Rams threatened to make some early noise, the Bulldogs’ defense refused Reavis entry into the end zone. Richards’ offense, meanwhile, racked up four first-half touchdowns and eventually claimed a resounding 40-0 South Suburban Conference Red triumph at Korhonen Field.
  “I hope it will continue,” Sheehan said of his team’s solid exhibition,” and I think it will. You’ve got to play your best every week or you’re going to get beat because this conference is so balanced. We learned that last week.

Chicago Ridge finds buyer for abandoned truck terminal but testing must be done before development

  • Written by Bob Rakow

A developer with experience building the biggest commercial properties in Chicago Ridge is ready to take on his next challenge in the village.

Ken Tucker of Structured Development, located in Chicago, is the point person for the potential development of the abandoned Yellow Freight trucking terminal.

Tucker was instrumental in the development of both Chicago Ridge Mall and Chicago Ridge Commons, Mayor Chuck Tokar said.

“He’s got the Ridge experience,” Tokar said.

But specific plans for and area on Harlem Avenue village officials have called an “eyesore’’ have not been made public and there needs to be testing for contamination done before moving forward with any plans.

Yellow Freight abandoned its truck terminal about five years ago. Since that time, redeveloping the Harlem Avenue terminal and some adjacent property has been the village’s top priority.

To that end, the village recently partnered with Structured Development to create the Ridge Creek Joint Venture Partnership.

The village purchased the property from Yellow Roadway Corp. for $14 million. The purchase contract is contingent on the condition of the property, Tokar said.

The village board also approved an ordinance that designates the Yellow Freight property and the adjacent land as a tax increment financing district. The TIF district is bordered by Harlem Avenue, the Tri-State Tollway and Southwest Highway.

But bringing a developer into the mix is an important step, Tokar said.

“The village is no longer the one holding the contract of purchase,” he said.

Structured Development will spend the next several months performing due diligence on the property, including taking soil samples and conducting detailed market studies.

Testing Services Corp. of Carol Stream is performing soil borings and will prepare an environmental report within the next several weeks, Tokar said.

While the 75-acre trucking terminal is mostly covered with concrete or asphalt, a garbage dump once existed adjacent to Stony Creek, so the possibility for contamination exists.

Additionally, Tokar recently learned that some of the land south of 103rd Street was used as a dumping ground for debris that accumulated after the 1967 tornado.

But the mayor is encouraged by Tucker’s belief that the terminal and adjacent land can be developed.

Marketing studies will help determine the businesses best suited for the development, but Tokar believes that the steady stream of traffic on the tollway—estimated at 270,000 cars daily—is the key selling point.

“You just don’t know what is going to be appealing to the market,” Tokar said.

But he envisions big things for the parcel.

A mixed-use development that would feature family entertainment options, such as Dave & Buster’s; a multi-level, heated golf driving range similar to Top Golf in Wood Dale or an indoor skydiving facility similar to iFly in Naperville and Rosemont all are under consideration.

The development also could feature shops, restaurants and condominiums or townhomes, Tokar said. Hotels, a conference center or an venue for entertainment also are under consideration, he said.

The shuttered Aldi, located at Harlem Avenue and Southwest Highway, and the long-closed Nikobee’s restaurant at the northeast corner of 103rd and Harlem, are included in the district. Additionally, Burger King, the Blue Star Motel, the Glendora House reception hall and a storage facility, all located north of 103rd Street, would be razed to make room for new development.

The TIF district enables the village to float bonds that would finance construction of a mixed-use development at the Yellow site and throughout the district. In a TIF district, real estate tax revenues yielded by properties that increase in value are used to fund improvements within the district, or as an incentive to the developer.

Hickory Hills woman defends family in wake of neighbor’s previous complaints to council

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Deborah Szymanski is fighting back.

The Hickory Hills resident appeared at last Thursday’s city council meeting to defend herself and her son against allegations levied by a neighbor.

The neighbor, Gil Marek, of the 9300 block of 79th Avenue, asked aldermen at the Sept. 25 council meeting to intervene in an escalating dispute he’s having with the Szymanski family.

The problem is, Marek and Szymanski have very different versions of the dispute.

Marek asked the council to take action to prevent the Szymanski’s from repairing campers in their driveway, which is located directly across the street from his house.

He said his neighbor has worked on at least three campers in recent weeks, which includes the use of power tools for hours well into the night.

Szymanski denies the claim.

“He wants us to get aggravated,” Szymanski said after last Thursday’s meeting. “He is clearly fabricating because he wants his own way.”

Marek, who vowed to attend future meetings until the problem is resolved, was not at last Thursday’s meeting.

Szymanski said Marek became angry on a recent weekend when her son, Tim, was working on his pickup truck in the driveway. She said Marek was “ranting, raving and swearing” when police arrived.

The Szymanski’s did not receive a ticket from police, but did get a letter from the city reminding them of various ordinances such working too late or violating noise restrictions.

Szymanski was adamant that her family is not running a business from their home.

“The fact that tickets haven’t been issued supports her statement,” Mayor Mike Howley said. “We certainly can’t control what he’s alleging, what he saying.”

Szymanski denied that her family power washes multiple trailers in their driveway or that her son routinely uses a grinder while restoring his truck.

“He wants to dictate a block of Hickory Hills,” she said. “He’s harassing us. I feel he’s watching. It’s pretty bad. It scares me.”

She also denied Marek contention that other neighbors are angry about the situation, but they are afraid to call the police and complain to the city.

Marek told the council during at his first appearance that he has no conflicts with his neighbor other than the complaints he’s lodged with the city.

Szymanski agreed with that assertion, saying that she gets along with Marek’s wife, who her son has helped out in the past.

Quinlan won’t seek trustee post for third term

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Eight is enough for Oak Lawn Trustee Carol Quinlan.

 

The veteran village board member has decided against running for a third, four-year term in April, but has wasted little time endorsing a candidate to run for her 5th District seat.

 

Bud Stalker, a long-time Oak Lawn resident announced his candidacy last week. He joins Dan Johnson and Paul Vail in the race.

 

“I just think he’s a straight-up guy,” Quinlan said. “He would be ideal.”

 

Stalker also has the support of former 5th District Trustee Marge Joy and former Village Clerk Jayne Powers.

 

Quinlan said she decided after winning re-election in 2011 that she would not run again.

 

“I had only planned for two terms. I think it’s a good think to have new blood,” Quinlan said, adding that she’s looking forward to spending more time with her family.

 

An ally of former Mayor Dave Heilmann, Quinlan became part of the village board minority in 2013 when Mayor Sandra Bury won election and often disagreed with the mayor on various issues.

 

Quinlan said she has known Stalker for many years through their involvement at St. Linus parish.

 

“You have to find someone who’s passionate,” she said. “I wanted to find someone who would do a great job for the village.”

 

Stalker, 68, has lived in Oak Lawn for 25 years. He retired in 2009 following a career as an electrical contractor. He is the president of his condominium board and is a member of the International Association of Electrical Inspectors.

 

The experience, he said, prepares him to serve on the sometimes contentious village board.

 

“If you think this is tough, you ought to try negotiating a contract worth a couple million dollars,” Stalker said.

 

He added that he is prepared to work with Oak Lawn Mayor Sandra Bury and other members of the village board.

 

“I am not for or against the mayor,” said Stalker, who describes himself as an independent.

 

Both Vail and Johnson also have said they are independent candidates not aligned with the mayor or other factions of the board.

 

Vail, 36 is a lifelong Oak Lawn resident who chairs the village’s corridor studies committee. He works as a construction manager.

 

Johnson is the commander of the Johnson-Phelps VFW Post in Oak Lawn.

He served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army, including four years of active duty, two tours of combat in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.

He was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service in a combat zone in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2013. He is a member of the Army Reserve.

Stalker and his wife, Mary Ellen, have been married for 44 years. They have five children and seven grandchildren. He is a graduate of Brother Rice High School and Bradley University.

 

Stalker said he considered for months Quinlan’s suggestion that he run and added that he’s looking forward to the race.

 

“It’s going to be a real good opportunity for three people to discuss the issues,” Stalker said.

 

The race could involve more than three candidates, as there are rumors other contenders may jump into the contest, Quinlan said.

 

Stalker has not yet discussed his candidacy with Trustee Bob Streit, Bury’s chief opposition on the board, but plans to meet with the veteran trustee.

 

“Bob is an interesting person,” Stalker said.

 

Streit is seeing his seventh term on the board and is facing a challenge from Scott Hollis, 58, a newcomer to Oak Lawn, who announced his candidacy in August.