Evergreen Park’s park keeps expanding

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Dog owners, golfers and outdoor enthusiasts in Evergreen Park have plenty to look forward in the coming weeks as the village puts the final touches on a 50-acre unnamed park at the site of the former of Evergreen Park Country Club.
“The dog park is being built as we speak,” Mayor Jim Sexton said Monday.
Meanwhile, the golf range is scheduled to open Friday for its second year. The driving range does not yet offer lessons, said Sexton, who joked that the range is designed for hackers.
Dog owners, meanwhile, can obtain a membership to the dog park when applying for dog tags at village hall, Sexton said. Non-residents can use the dog park for a fee, he said.
Work on the disc golf course also is nearing completion, Sexton said.
“It’s a college phenomenon that appeals to the kids,” Sexton said.
The park, which is located on the east side of California Avenue between 91st and 94th streets, also will feature 2- to 3-acre urban garden.
The garden will be used to grow fruits and vegetables for the Evergreen Park Food Pantry. The village may in the future rent space in the garden to residents who wish to grow their own produce, or grow fruits or vegetables for sale at the Evergreen Park Farmers Market.
Evergreen Park used grant money to buy the former golf course property from a developer for $2 million. An additional $1.2 million for the park’s development came come from the village’s general fund.
Development of the property would have been completed the sooner had the village decided to contract more of the work, Sexton said. Village officials rejected that option to hold down costs.
“We’re doing it ourselves so it takes a little bit longer,” Sexton said.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Analyze this – we’re hoping to offer a few more think pieces


JVC pixThis series of photos involving Chicago Christian volleyball players in a regional match from last fall is a finalist in the Illinois Press Association contest. Phots by Jeff Vorva.

We probably won’t have two news analysis pieces on our front page as we did last week with Cardinal Francis George and Worth Mayor Mary Werner, but from time-to-time they will be popping up.
Although it’s not new by any stretch of the imagination, it’s new to my writing repertoire and I’m liking this news analysis thing for a couple of reasons.
jeff columnFirst, it allows us to delve into a topic from a different slant than a regular news story. The who-what-when-where is not as important as the why. The topic can be expanded and it gives the readers something extra to think about. We in the biz call it a think piece.
Second, sometimes it almost feels like writing a term paper. You usually have to do your research on any story you write, but you have to do a little extra homework on an analysis if you want to do it right.
Another old-time vehicle that we haven’t been driving is the local editorial on Page 6 and now we’re breaking out and doing that a little more in recent weeks. Upper management suggested we get on the ball and do some local editorials but I felt a little skittish since I didn’t know the lay of the land as well as I would have liked.
Now that I’m close to eight months into the job, I’m getting confident in my knowledge of some area affairs and the folks in the office are more than happy to suggest “You should write an editorial on…” Folks on the street are happy to make suggestions, too.
The local editorials and news analysis, coupled with this crazy column and Bob Rakow’s insightful B-Side columns that are usually found on page 6 are ways we hope to add a little spice and personality to the paper. Straight news stories, colorful features and information about pancake breakfasts, church happenings and other items will still take up a majority of this paper but we hope these added bonuses make for some great reading.
Yay from the IPA
Now it’s time to pat ourselves on the back.
The Illinois Press Association announced the winners of its 2013 awards and the good ol’ Reporter will take a few Division B trinkets home in June. We don’t know what place we will finish in until then, but it’s fun just to be a finalist.

Palos Hills last to agree to Oak Lawn’s water agreement

  • Written by Kelly White


Palos Hills was the last suburb to approve to Oak Lawn’s Regional Water System Agreement.
The current water supply agreement between the Village of Oak Lawn and the villages of
Orland Park, Tinley Park, Mokena and New Lenox and the City of Oak Forest expired in 2011.
Those towns are in the process of collectively negotiating a new long-term water supply agreement that will ensure a supply of water to each community for generations to come.
“We are not a growth community and we are being asked to partake in this agreement where we will be building piping to better service other communities that are growth communities,” Public Works Director, Dave Weakley, said at Thursday’s City Council Meeting.
The City of Palos Hills is being asked to pay its proportional share of the project estimated at $7.9 million. The cost of the project contributed by Palos Hills, Palos Park and Chicago Ridge will be used to fund and build piping along southwest highway.
Palos Hills also has an additional expense to modify the pump station and meter vault located on 103rd St. just west of Harlem Ave., estimated at $800,000 to $1 million and that raised a red flag with one Palos Hills alderman.
“Why can’t we get together with other municipalities involved with this and pull together and fight this?” Alderman Mary Ann Schultz (5th Ward) said.
Mayor Jerry Bennett said that the city’s options are limited and if they do change to another water source, costs will definitely go up.
“Should the city decide to seek water elsewhere, the Village of Oak Lawn will work with us as we go through the process of disconnection,” Weakley added.
While this is happening, Weakley said Oak Lawn would convert Palos Hills from a wholesale customer to a retail customer and start charging Palos Hills a retail rate, currently at $5.70 per 1,000 gallons. The city’s current wholesale rate is at $3.14 per 1,000 gallons. If the city decides to switch to Oak Lawn as a retail supplier, Oak Lawn will only be a retailer at the point of connection. They will not be responsible for water main breaks or other damages that may occur throughout the city.
Weakley said the city has no other reasonable option than to accept the terms presented by the Oak Lawn for cost participation in the construction of the Oak Lawn Regional Water System.
“It’s Oak Lawn’s water system and we have held up the process hoping for a compromise,” Bennett said.
The city is planning to take out a 20-to-30-year bond, to finance its share of the project, which will be paid for through the city’s capital improvement funds. Oak Lawn will be presenting a timeline with the requirements Palos Hills will need to complete in order to become a member of the regional water system. The official voice approval and paperwork will be signed at an upcoming city council meeting.
The five towns began negotiations in 2009, collectively hiring legal and engineering consultants to assist them. The toughest part of the negotiations was figuring out each town’s proportionate share of the costs. Besides the level of water usage, the complex formula factors in distance from Oak Lawn, electrical cost and a town’s future growth.

Did you hit the jackpot? Safety tips for the casino

  • Written by Tim Hadac


In the wake of last week’s home invasion in Palos Heights, in which two armed bandits shot and robbed a 51-year-old man of his casino winnings, local bettors are asking about the odds of it happening to them.
“I gamble at the boats, but I don’t want to take chances with any money I won, especially if I hit a jackpot,” said Palos Heights resident Rita Kunst. “Does this shooting worry me? Yes, it does. Next time I go, I’m going to be watching my purse and looking over my shoulder.”
The victim of the April 15 shooting is said to be recovering from his injury, according to Palos Heights Police Sgt. Michael Yott, who added that police are “chasing leads” and awaiting laboratory results on several pieces of evidence submitted.
The victim reportedly gambled at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind. and came home with a large amount of cash winnings.
Horseshoe Casino representatives did not respond to a request for comment from The Regional News, but others in law enforcement and private security did.
“Most people at casinos are simply there to gamble and have a good time,” observed Paulino Villarreal, a private investigator and owner of VDSA Chicago, an asset protection firm that employs detectives and security specialists. “But casinos also attract predators who want to separate you from your money.”

Sexton fired up to get Plaza conversion rolling

  • Written by Bob Rakow


A commercial developer’s plans to acquire the Plaza andPAGE-5-2-col-plazaEvergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton want to see changes to the old Plaza as soon as possible. Photo by Jeff Vorva. build a build a new mall on the site will happen sooner rather than later, Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton said.
“I’m not going to wait until summer,” Sexton said Tuesday. “Summer’s upon us.”
Evergreen Park trustees last week discussed the possibility of using powers of eminent domain to acquire the mall and the remaining businesses: Carson Pierre Scott and Planet Fitness.
Sexton said DeBartolo Development, the company that plans to convert the Plaza into a “lifestyle center,” is in negotiations with Carson’s to acquire the store lease.
Carson’s has indicated that it wants to stay at the redeveloped mall, Sexton said.
“The bottom line is to get the developer and Carson’s close on a deal,” Sexton said. “Everybody is slow to make a deal. We’re closer.”
Planet Fitness, which currently is located at the north end of the mall along 95th Street, also has indicated it wants to stay at redeveloped version of the mall.
Representatives from the fitness center attended the April 7 village board meeting to question the village’s