Thursday, June 1, 2017 || By Isiah Brandon || OPINION || @maywoodnews
Ever since my election in 2015, I’ve pledged to keep residents abreast of my progress as a trustee in the great village of Maywood. For the last two years, I’ve had the honor and high privilege of serving on your behalf, but I haven’t taken anything for granted. This is just a snapshot of the work I’ve done since I last updated you about my progress in January.
During Black History Month this year, I collaborated with Fire Brand Arts, a vibrant arts education group here in Maywood, to host a celebration of African American history. The ceremony also commemorated the African American present, with talented young people displaying a variety of talent — from spoken word artists to musicians.
This year, I took yet another youth delegation on a trip to the National League of Cities conference in Washington D.C. This is the second group of students I’ve taken. This year, we broadened our reach. In addition to students from District 209, we included students from Walther Christian Academy as well. And we’re already looking forward to next year. In this most recent budget, the Maywood Board of Trustees approved allocating $4,000 to the program, which makes us less reliant on private funds and means that we’ll possibly be able to take even more students the next time around.
In May, I was honored to participate in a Father Daughter Dance and a Men’s Day at Garfield Elementary School in Maywood, as well as Irving Middle School’s graduation. I also connected with our seniors during a pre-Mother’s Day celebration at the Maywood Garden House complex, an event co-sponsored by Mayor Edwenna Perkins and my employer.
I’ve always believed that with the title of trustee comes great responsibility to educate the public about what the position entails, and about the structure of our local government in general. With that being the case, I’m proud to have participated in Career Day at Walther Christian Academy, which allowed me to explain the role of a trustee, and the workings of local government, to high school students.
As a trustee, I believe that we should tap into every resource that is available to protect our streets, families and business community. To that end, I’ve proposed a partnership between the village’s youth delegation, the police department and clerk’s office to target high crime areas throughout the community.
Through this partnership, young people will target four hot zones throughout the village where they will organize residents to create block clubs and to restore and reclaim their communities. The youth will also host a range of events in these areas of the community.
In addition, there will be more officers, vehicles and outside resources, such as Cook County Sheriff’s deputies, deployed to fight the recent surge of violent crime in the village.
In this year’s 2017-18 budget, residents can look forward to better streets, additional resources and more youth employment opportunities. This budget allows the Village to hire a new full-time grant-writer who will be completely dedicated to finding alternative means of revenue for the village. In addition, code enforcement officers will receive extra assistance due to the hiring of additional staff members in the department. Public works will also receive some additional help.
Local Workforce Enhancement & Development
On June 10, we will kick off our 5th Annual Safe Summer Campaign. We’ve identified additional resources to help expand this initiative, which provides programming, volunteer and employment opportunities for at-risk young people.
Maywood’s development prospects are bright. For instance, we are currently in negotiations with a businessman who is looking to open a grocery store at the site of the former Maywood Market. And I’ve also talked with other developers who are interested in doing business in the village.
In addition, a new Metra shelter on Fifth Avenue is nearly complete. This structure will only enhance the viability of our downtown corridor. It will also complement the decreased commuter times and smoother train traffic that will come with the construction of a $100 million third rail line to be funded by Union Pacific and Metra.
Also, on 4th Avenue and Randolph, the redevelopment of the old Baptist Retirement Home is back on track after having been held up for some years. Soon, this historic facility will be transformed into a state-of-the-art senior living facility and put back on the tax rolls.
In order to pave the way for this new development, the village has invested $1 million in Tax Increment Financing funds into improving our roadways.
This is just a snapshot of the progress that we’ve made in the village since January. I’m looking forward to helping us make even more in the months ahead. But we as elected officials can’t do it alone. We need the help of residents. So, what can you, as a Maywood resident, do to move the village forward?
You can create a block club, join a commission, come to board meetings and attend community events, among the many actions that you can take to help our community be what we all believe it can be — a thriving village of eternal light.
Finally, let me congratulate my new board colleagues, Kimyada Wellington and Antonio Sanchez, and my re-elected board colleagues, Mayor Perkins and Trustee Melvin Lightford. I look forward to working alongside them to move this great village forward. VFP
Isiah Brandon is a Maywood trustee.