Tuesday, September 26, 2017 || By Isiah Brandon || OPINION || @maywoodnews
As we prepare to step into the fall season let’s reflect on some of the progress that has happened throughout the village. It is important that we come together as a village to celebrate every sign of success that is taking place within our community.
I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with residents across the village at the many block club parties that have taken place among residents. I thank you for sharing your concerns and ideas on how we can work together to create a strong and resilient community.
In the summer, I sponsored a BBQ cookout for our seniors at the Maywood Garden House apartments in order to gain their input and to create more activities for our seniors.
In addition, I successfully spearheaded the third annual Safe Summer initiative. A special thanks is in order to my board colleagues for funding this much-needed initiative. We were able to provide young people with programs and activities to keep them safe and off the streets this summer.
I also attended a successful event organized by District 89 as they welcomed students back to school and even co-organized the 12th Annual Be Smart, Stay In School giveaway with the office of Mayor Edwenna Perkins, Youth On The Move and the Maywood Old Timers Committee. That event was a great success.
Speaking to successes, kudos to the Maywood Bataan Day Organization for hosting a remarkably successful Bataan Day memorial service on Sept. 10.
I’m looking forward to creating even more great memories for our residents by conducting my regular walk-throughs across the village, hosting my ongoing Community Conversation series of town hall-style dialogues, and hosting the second annual Maywood Seniors Movie Day on Oct. 13.
But I did more than host events. In particular, I worked with ComEd to identify Proviso students, particularly African American males, who would benefit from $250 scholarships enabling them to enhance their understanding of solar energy systems.
The safety of our residents continues to be a top concern of mine. I will continue to advocate for a stronger police presence on our streets and will keep searching for additional resources to ensure that our officers have the tools needed to provide the highest level of safety possible.
This summer, I teamed up with the Maywood Youth Delegation, the mayor’s office, the Maywood Police Department and the clerk’s office to target high-crime zones within our village. We were able to have a strong presence in those areas by going out and walking those streets. I personally hit the streets this summer to get a full understanding of this issue. I’m proud of our youth delegates for creating this major initiative.
The village’s responsible stewardship of your tax dollars was on full display in the prudent decision to authorize $285,000 in TIF funding to help pay for the rehabilitation of the 809 Madison St. building, which is owned by the Maywood Park District. Those dollars will finally allow that facility to become the beacon of light that we all know it can be and that our citizens deserve.
We’ve also invested $2.5 million in infrastructure improvements — another sign that our village board is focused on making responsible decisions on taxpayers’ behalf.
Local work force enhancement
The area of work force development has always been close to my heart. My passion for the subject prompted me to attend the Illinois Municipal League Conference held at the Hilton Chicago Hotel in late September.
This was a great educational opportunity that helps to educate municipal leaders on current trends in the retail development industry. We also explored ways that we can engage our residents, deal with blighted areas throughout the village and improve how our local government functions.
In the area of legislation, I’m proud to have lent my support for a redevelopment agreement between the village and Interfaith Housing Development Corporation, which is looking to construct a five-story, $20 million mixed-use facility on a corner lot located at Fifth Ave. and School Street that is currently owned by the village.
By allowing this development, the village will alleviate the tax burden that residents feel and enhance our downtown. This measure complements the installation of new streets on 4th, 17th, 18th, 19th and Quincy Avenues — clear signs of taxpayer dollars at work.
Our newly completed train station is going to be a springboard for additional economic development along Fifth Ave., hopefully attracting the essential public-private partnerships that are vital to sustainable economic growth. One example of this growth is Seaway Supply Company, at the corner of 9th Ave. and Main St., which recently got assistance from Cook County that allowed them to redevelop an empty lot next to their business.
The village is also making way for additional development across the village by tearing down a dozen properties that have been deemed uninhabitable. Lastly, special thanks to Family Dollar for addressing citizens’ concerns and making improvements to your facade.
I would like to conclude this progress report by welcoming all of our students back to school and congratulating those who have graduated to pursue higher education. In particular, congratulations to our very own 2017 youth delegate, Rheena Murphy — Walther Christian Academy’s valedictorian — as she heads to college. VFP
Isiah Brandon is a Maywood trustee.