A rocky discussion of Stony Creek Promenade

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Perhaps it was no surprise at Tuesday’s Oak Lawn Village Board meeting that a vote related to the Stony Creek Promenade led to another extended debate between Trustee Robert Streit and Mayor Sandra Bury.


Streit’s talking points are simple enough.


He repeatedly has said Oak Lawn taxpayers recently were taken advantage of because the village lost $24 million in the sale of Stony Creek Promenade. He further contends that Hamilton Partners, the project developer, garnered $28 million via the sale despite the village’s investment in the property being significantly greater than Hamilton’s.


Bury and other village officials have said Streit’s figures don’t add up and accuse him of lying for political reasons.


Streit faces re-election in the spring, four years after winning a very close election against a write-in candidate. One village official said Tuesday that Streit is extremely concerned about his chances in 2015.


Following Tuesday’s meeting, Bury pointed to a detailed, four-page memo written Village Manager Larry Deetjen that outlines the sale of Stony Creek Promenade Phase I.


The memo debunks Streit’s financial claims about the Stony Creek Promenade sale, Bury said.


The mayor also took to her blog to discredit Streit’s claims, saying the veteran trustee is lying about the deal.


“In what is called a sure sign of desperation about spring re-election prospects, Bob Streit continues to spread lies and misinformation about the most successful retail development in Oak Lawn’s history,” Bury wrote Oct. 13 in her blog.

“Bob Streit’s response to Stony Creek Promenade’s record breaking success is to bad mouth Hamilton Partners, bad mouth the stores investing millions in our village and undermine the process in every way possible with a social media campaign orchestrated with Dave Heilmann to taint this development and hold Oak Lawn’s economic growth back,” the mayor added.

Bury asked Streit why he is opposed to a development project he initially supported.

Streit said he backed plans for an upscale mall “not a mediocre strip mall.”

Bury called the remark “reckless.”

Trustee Michael Carberry told Streit that he is alone in his thinking about the 111th Street project, where a recently opened Mariano’s has been very well received.

“I really don’t know anyone in Oak Lawn who thinks this is a bad deal expect you,” Carberry said to Streit. “I just don’t get it. You’re alone. Who’s with you?”

Other officials noted that the property was previously home to a closed grocery store, a Kmart and a parking lot full of seagulls. Additionally, the area lacked retention and green space.


Tuesday’s 5-1 vote allows Hamilton Partners to develop the Edgar Funeral Home, 10900 S. Cicero Ave., which will be renovated for retail use.

Letter to the Editor from 9-11-14

Grateful for huge response to ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Dear Editor:
By now you have seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos of people getting doused with ice water and then nominating others to embrace this call to action. They encourage friends and relatives to accept the challenge, donate money to an ALS charity or do both.
In mid-August, Facebook reported that 2.4 million videos related to the Ice Bucket Challenge had been shared and more than 28 million people posted, commented or liked these posts.
As the executive director of the Skokie-based Les Turner ALS Foundation, I am invigorated by the response to this campaign. Some videos have been funny, others creative, and some very emotional. These videos provide hope to the ALS community – hope that the dialogue around ALS will continue and funding will continue to increase, long after the Ice Bucket Challenge has ended.
While we have not raised tens of millions of dollars like the national organization and we will not receive any of the funds they have collected, the Les Turner ALS Foundation has experienced a significant increase in fundraising. Since the Challenge took off, we have raised over $550,000, a nearly 600 percent increase over what we raised last year in the same time period.
When people donate to the Les Turner ALS Foundation, their contribution stays local. They are helping support three research laboratories at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, a patient center at Northwestern Medicine and a range of patient services, such as home visits, support groups and grant programs.
Critics of the campaign have said it fails to move the needle in terms of awareness, so for those unsure of what ALS is, it’s a terminal neuromuscular disorder that attacks a person’s muscles, gradually robbing them of their ability to walk, speak, eat and breathe, yet usually keeping their mind intact. At any given time, approximately 35,000 people in the United States are living with ALS. Currently, there is no prevention or cure.
I am grateful for every donor and every dollar, as these funds guarantee the programs we offer will continue and new programs can be created, both in research and care; however, the public needs to know that the millions of dollars continually referenced in the media will not benefit the Les Turner ALS Foundation, only those funds donated directly to us will be allocated toward our local programs.

Wendy Abrams
Executive Director
Les Turner ALS Foundation

broaden your horizons

This week

The Center Cinema

  "Nebraska" will be shown this at 6 p.m. this Friday, Aug. 1, as part of the monthly Center Cinema series at The Center, 12700 Southwest Highway, Palos Park.
  "Nebraska" features Bruce Dern as an aging, difficult dad. A discussion follows the movie. Free popcorn is served. No fee is charged but pre-registration is necessary. Call The Center at 361-3650.

Nature collage
class for families

  An art class for families will be hosted at the Log Cabin Center for the Arts on Wednesday, Aug. 6, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm. The Log Cabin Art Center is located at 12700 Southwest Highway in Palos Park.
  Instructor Heather Young invites families with children of any age to combine magazine images to create interesting naturescape collages. The class fee is $ 8 per person and includes all supplies. Advance reservations are required. Call The Center at 361-3650.


  Meditation opportunities are offered every Tuesday evening, 5:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings, 9 a.m., at The Center, 12700 Southwest Highway in Palos Park.
  Pastoral director Chris Hopkins and hospitality manager Winnie Brock organize these 20-minute periods of silent meditation, offer guidance to those new to the practice of meditation, and welcome anyone to join. Call 361-3650 for information.

The Bridge Teen
Center events

• Gardening — 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. today (Thursday), The Bridge Teen Center, 15555 S. 71st Court, Orland Park, host a program with Alsip Nursery to teach students the proper way to plant and maintain a garden.
• Flatbread Pizzas — 4 to 5:30 p.m. today, The Bridge Teen Center culinary with Granite City to teach students how to make delicious flatbread pizza with homemade sauces.
• Girls Night In — 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. this Friday, Aug. 1, annual Girls Night In event focuses on inner and outer beauty through a variety of stations. Students will experience a night that is uplifting, encouraging, and meaningful. All girls will take home a favor bag filled with high-quality lotions, perfume, hair accessories, and more. RSVP is required.
• Guys Night Out — 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 2, annual Guys Night Out event. Students will enjoy a fun-filled night with burgers, games, competitions and guy-to-guy talks. RSVP is required.
• Electric Guitar — 5 to 6 p.m. Aug. 5, 12 and 19, program with Tone Wolf Music, to teach students the basics of the electric guitar.
• Stress Busters — 2 to 3 p.m. Aug. 5, will teach students how to manage their stress in order to have a great school year.
• Inspirational Locker Art —4:30-5:30 p.m. Aug. 5, art program for students to create a piece of art to hang in their locker.
• Middle School Meet-N-Greet —2 to 3 p.m. Aug. 6, meet-n-greet for middle school students to make an ice cream sundae and play games with students from their school.
• Get Organized for School — 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Aug. 6, program for students to create an organizational system that prevents them from misplacing assignments.
• High School Meet-N-Greet — 2 to 3 p.m. Aug. 7, meet-n-greet for high school students to make an ice cream sundae and play games with students from their school.
• Yoga in the Park — 4 to 5:45 p.m. Aug. 7, combines the benefits of yoga with the relaxation of being outdoors.
  These free events are for teens in 7th through 12th grade. For more information, call, 532-0500.

With election a year away, second candidate surfaces for OL board

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Municipal elections are 12 months away, but political newcomer Paul Vail has thrown his hat in the ring in Oak Lawn’s 5th District trustee race.


Incumbent Trustee Carol Quinlan, who was first elected in 2007, has refused to comment on her political future.


Vail is the second person to announce his candidacy. Patrick McGowan in September in announced his plans to oppose veteran Trustee Robert Streit in the 3rd District.


Trustee Tim Desmond (1st) also faces re-election because he won a two-year term in 2013.


Vail, 36, is a lifelong Oak Lawn resident and chairs the village’s corridor studies committee.


He said Planning and Development Commissioner Rich Piazza, a friend and mentor, encouraged him to consider running for public office.


“I’ve been wanting to get involved, so now I’m doing it,” said Vail, the divorced father of a 6-year-old boy.


He added that the political infighting for which the village board has become known did not discourage him to run.


“You can’t complain about it if you don’t try to change it,” said Vail, who grew up in the 2nd District and attended McGugan Junior High before heading to Mt. Carmel High School. He is a graduate of DePaul University.


Vail, who works as a construction manager, said he is running as an independent and was not asked by Mayor Sandra Bury or other politically connected individuals to consider the race.


“I’m not with or against anybody,” he said, adding that he has “no grand political agenda.” Rather, he said, he believes it time for people of his generation to reinvest in Oak Lawn.


He said he announced his candidacy well ahead of next year’s election season to “get myself out there and give people time to get to know me.”


Vail was not critical of Quinlan’s work as trustee, but added, “I just think more can be done. He said he sent an email to Quinlan notifying her of his plans to run, but did not receive a response.

OL fireman who witnessed horrific suicide promoted

  • Written by bob

By Bob Rakow

Staff Reporter


February was a difficult month for Oak Lawn’s firefighters, having battled two house fires and witnessed six deaths.


Those firefighters were recognized for their efforts at Tuesday night’s village board meeting by receiving commendations from Fire Chief George Sheets. It was also announced that Michael Bowman was promoted to the assistant fire chief post. He was the firefighter who witnessed a horrific suicide before battling a Feb. 26 blaze.


John P. Conta allegedly killed his parents—John and Janice Conta—and nephew at the family home in the 9800 block of 51st Avenue. Conta then set the house on fire and killed himself with a gunshot while in the house’s garage, police said.


The body of Conta’s nephew, 5-year-old Matthew Meier, was discovered in the house later in the day, they said. Family members celebrated the boy’s fifth birthday at the house the previous night, police said.

Bowman was on his way to work and responded to the blaze. He entered the garage and saw John P. Conta kill himself after the gun was pointed at him, officials said.


“Assistant Chief Bowman jerked back thinking he might be shot,” Sheets said. “This happened in a matter of seconds.”


Bowman witnessed the shooting and then joined his colleagues fighting the fire—action that went above and beyond the call of duty, Sheets said


He said that Bowman’s ability to battle the fire after witnessing the suicide is unlike anything he’s witnessed in his 31-year career.


Bowman and firefighter Teddy Moran were awarded the department’s Medal of Honor for their efforts during the fire.


The first fire occurred in early February on the west side of the village.Kathryn Lomec, 73, was pronounced dead Feb. 8 shortly after a blaze at her house in the 10100 block of Lawrence Court, officials said. Her sister and caretaker, 74-year-old Mary Bruce, died three days later at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County.

Although Bruce ultimately died, the efforts of firefighters and paramedics allowed her to live a few more days, time that she was able to spend time surrounded by family, Sheets said.





Sheets also lauded residents who live near the 51st Avenue fire for supporting his crews during the second fire.


“That’s what brings a community together,” Sheets said.


Palermo’s Pizza fed the firefighters, who were at the scene for 12 hours in freezing temperatures. Another resident showed up with White Castle food, while others opened their homes to let emergency personnel use the bathroom and warm up.


“They didn’t have to do that, but they did,” Sheets said. “We were hungry. We were cold.”


Tuesday’s ceremony began with a moment of silence for the six people who perished as a result of the two tragedies.


“Your fire chief is very proud of each and every one of you,” Sheets said at the end of presentation, which also recognized firefighters from Evergreen Park and Hometown.