Category: Infrastructure

Maywood Gets $206K, Melrose Park Gets $203K for Bike Lanes | Video Cameras for New Maywood Metra Station | More


Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) addresses community members during a July 15 town hall held at village council chambers, 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood. | Michael Romain/VFP

Friday, July 28, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

During a town hall meeting he convened in Maywood on July 15, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) announced that the county board was set to approve a grant of around $206,000 to install a bike path along Washington Blvd.

The county board unanimously approved the grant, which is part of a $7.2 million county-wide highway improvement project, at a regular meeting on July 19.

Formally called the 2017 Invest in Cook Awards, the projects are designed to provide incentives to municipalities to encourage “non-auto” forms of transportation.

Continue reading “Maywood Gets $206K, Melrose Park Gets $203K for Bike Lanes | Video Cameras for New Maywood Metra Station | More”


25th Avenue Overpass Named After Former Bellwood Mayor Frank Pasquale

Frank Pasquale Overpass_1

Left to right: State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey, Pasquale, state Rep. Kathleen Willis, state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch and Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico during the June 16 ceremony naming the 25th Avenue overpass after Pasquale. | Photos by Tara Gray/Feel This Moment Photography via state Rep. Welch/Facebook

Frank Pasquale Overpass_2Friday, June 16, 2017 || By Community Editor || @maywoodnews

During a ceremony on Friday morning, local and state elected officials converged on the 25th Avenue overpass that spans Bellwood and Melrose Park in order to give the structure, which was opened late last year, an official name: Mayor Frank A. Pasquale Overpass.

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) introduced a House resolution that made the bridge naming possible.

“I have known Mayor Pasquale for many years, and am proud to have worked alongside him to make Bellwood a better place for everyone,” said Welch in a recent statement. “As mayor for 16 years, Frank gave so much to Bellwood, and this small token of gratitude will solidify a legacy of community service for many more years to come.”

Lower left photo: Pasquale shares a light moment with Hillside Mayor Joseph T. Tamburino and Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson. | Tara Gray  


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Broadview Opts Out of Minimum Wage Ordinance | 25th Ave. Overpass to be Dedicated to Former Bellwood Mayor


A member of the Chicago-based advocacy group Black Workers Matter during a June 15 march in Forest Park protesting that village’s decision to opt-out of the Cook County minimum wage ordinance. | William Camargo/Wednesday Journal 

Thursday, June 15, 2017 || By Michael Romain || OPINION || @maywoodnews || Updated: 7 p.m.

Last week, the village of Broadview opted out of the Cook County’s minimum wage ordinance, contrary to my original reporting that indicated that Broadview would automatically be subject to Cook County’s minimum wage ordinance because of its non-home rule-status.

Cook County Chronicle reporter Jean Lotus was in attendance at last Monday’s board meeting where the decision was made. According to Lotus, the village’s decision could open it up to a potential lawsuit.

Lotus noted that Despres Schwartz and Geoghegan, a public interest law firm, has issued a memo stating that non-home-rule municipalities are liable to lawsuits if they opt out of the county law.

Back in April 2015, nearly 85 percent of Broadview residents voted against giving the village home rule authority, which allows municipalities to override the mandates of larger governments, namely the State of Illinois.

In the case of a new Cook County ordinance that would bring the minimum wage up to $10 an hour, home rule municipalities have the authority to “opt-out” of going along with the county ordinance so that businesses located within those towns’ borders only need to comply with the statewide minimum wage of $8 an hour.

Broadview isn’t a home-rule town, but it adopted an ordinance stating that the Illinois Constitution “provides that if a home rule county ordinance conflicts with an ordinance of a municipality, the municipal ordinance shall prevail within its jurisdiction.”

In an email letter, attorneys with the village’s contracted law firm, Del Galdo Law Group, noted that, “In effect, this provision of the Illinois Constitution serves as a check on the expansive powers of home rule counties, not as a limitation on the powers of home rule or non-home rule municipalities.”

According to the ordinance, Broadview officials found that the county’s minimum wage ordinance places “an undue burden on employers within the village given the current rights of employees available under federal and state law.”

Read the full ordinance below. This article will be updated to include the village board vote breakdown.

Village Free Press regrets the error. 


25th Avenue overpass to be dedicated to former mayor Frank Pasquale


The 25th Avenue overpass will be named in honor of former Bellwood mayor Frank Pasquale, pictured below.


Officials are preparing for a bridge dedication ceremony to take place on June 16, 10 a.m., at the 25th Avenue overpass, which will be named after former Bellwood mayor Frank Pasquale, who served in the position for 16 years before stepping down last year.

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) introduced a House resolution that made the bridge naming possible.

“I have known Mayor Pasquale for many years, and am proud to have worked alongside him to make Bellwood a better place for everyone,” said Welch in a recent statement. “As mayor for 16 years, Frank gave so much to Bellwood, and this small token of gratitude will solidify a legacy of community service for many more years to come.” VFP

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In Maywood, Officials Break Ground on $100M Railroad Project


Metra, UP and local, county and state elected officials break ground on April 21 in Maywood on a project to install a third track between River Forest and Melrose Park. || Below, Lois Baumann reads from The Little Engine that Could during the ceremony.| Spooner Baumann/Spooner Photography

IMG_9788.jpgFriday, April 21, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Metra and Union Pacific officials joined with elected officials from local, county and state governments at the corner of 5th Avenue and Main Street in Maywood on April 21 to break ground on a $100 million project to install a third track and other safety enhancements along the West Line between River Forest and Melrose Park.

The track will eliminate “two critical bottlenecks along the UP West Line that can be the source of delays for both freight and commuter trains,” according to a joint statement released by Metra and Union Pacific officials.

“The project will add nearly eight miles of third track in the only two remaining segments between Elburn and Chicago,” officials said.

Friday’s groundbreaking marked the first segment of that 8-mile track addition. The construction of that 1.8-mile section of track between River Forest and 25th Avenue in Melrose Park will start sometime in June and is expected to last for 12 months. During that time, officials said, there won’t be any service disruptions.

“We’ll establish schedules to work around [regular service],” said Bruce M. Marcheschi, Metra’s chief engineering officer. “We’ll start after the rush hour and quit before the rush hour, so we’ll be working between it. And we’ll work with our dispatchers to make sure we don’t disrupt traffic.”

Funding for the $100 million project will be paid by UP and Metra. Most of the third track will be built on land owned by UP, officials said.

Donald Orseno, Metra’s executive director and CEO, said that the third track will reduce commuter and freight train delays. Orseno said that company surveys show that delays are the most common complaint among riders.

According to Metra and UP officials, the improvement project will also enhance overall safety along the tracks, eliminate commuter curfews for freight trains, decrease the number freight trains that idle on the tracks and reduce the amount of time motorists must wait at grade crossings.

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“The Metra Union Pacific West Line (UP-W) is one of the busiest rail lines in the nation,” stated officials with Metra and UP. “More than 50 freight trains and 60 Metra trains carrying nearly 30,000 passengers share the line each day.”

The construction of a third track will also accompany safety enhancements, such as the installation of an upgraded rail signal system and new crossovers “so trains can switch tracks,” according to officials.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Lance M. Fritz, Union Pacific Railroad’s chairman, president and CEO. “We’ve been working on this project for about 12 years.”

Illinois Secretary of Transportation Randall S. Blankenhorn said that the collaboration between Metra and UP represents the future of transportation investment.

“When we think about investing in transportation, this is the kind of project that we need to be thinking about,” Blankenhorn said.

“This is how things are going to get done in the future. It’s not going to be IDOT [Illinois Department of Transportation] by themselves or IDOT with one partner,” he said. “It’s going to be multiple partners coming together, finding solutions and finding funding.”

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who last August oversaw the adoption of the county’s first long-range transportation plan in 70 years, lauded UP and Metra’s partnership and commitment “to not only support freight rail but also to engage in projects that benefit passenger rail.”

She said that transit and multi-nodal transportation ranked first and freight ranked second among the plan’s priorities.

“So this plan hit those two priorities,” Preckwinkle said.

Lois Baumann, the executive director of Maywood Fine Arts — which opened a new dance studio down the street from the Maywood Metra station last year — said that the project will boost the local economy, particularly the downtown area.

“We have projects that fail, we have projects that succeed but we continue to work hard and we chug and chug and chug along. And then, every now and then, a big engine comes along,” she said, referencing the new Metra train shelter that is nearly completed and the new third track project.

“We’re looking forward to the next project,” said Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins. VFP

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Maywood Decides Against Passing Chicago’s Roughly 2% Water Rate Increase Onto Residents

water faucetThursday, April 13, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Starting on June 1, the City of Chicago will raise water rates by 1.83 percent. Since the Village of Maywood purchases its own water from Chicago, the city’s rate increase will automatically be passed onto village residents in the form of higher water bills unless the board takes explicit action to set a different rate for residents.

During an April 12 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, Village Manager Willie Norfleet Jr. recommended against charging residents more for water despite Chicago’s rate increase.

“I would hope that we don’t pass the cost onto residents and use efficiency to recoup that [increased cost],” Norfleet said. No member of the board objected.

Norfleet said that the village purchases close to $3.6 million in water from Chicago each year. A 2 percent increase in the current rate would amount to an approximately $72,000 increase.

Since the village’s water fund is an enterprise fund, meaning that it needs to be self-sustaining — and expenditures must be balanced with revenues that the fund generates on its own — the city’s rate increase would either have to be balanced with new revenue (mainly in the form of higher water rates for residents) or cuts in spending.

Norfleet said that the village will focus on reducing the amount of delinquent water payments that are outstanding by “getting people who haven’t been paying [their water bills to pay],” fixing numerous water leaks that lead to wasted water and by “getting a better handle on meters” that aren’t reading properly.

Norfleet said that he’s confident the village can find enough cost-savings to offset the city’s rate increase. In June 2015, Norfleet estimated that the village collected around $333,000 within several days after he ordered that shutoff notices be sent to residents more than 60 days behind on their water payments.

Norfleet said that the board could still raise residents’ water rates at a later date if the village can’t find enough cost-savings to offset Chicago’s increase.

Currently, Maywood purchases its water from Chicago at a rate of $3.82 per 1,000 gallons. In 2016, there was no cost increase; however, in all but eight of the years before that, the city increased the water rate.

Chicago increased its water rate each year by 15 percent from 2008 until 2010. In 2012, it increased the rate by 25 percent. And from 2013 until 2015, the city increased the rate by 15 percent each year.

Attorney Michael Jurusik said that those rate are based on increases in the Consumer Price Index. Jurusik said that Maywood’s rate increase is the same as all other municipalities that purchase water from Chicago, including Bellwood, Broadview and Melrose Park. VFP

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County Commish Drops Off $250K Check in Maywood for 18th Ave. Improvements

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Maywood officials, Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways Superintendent John Yonan and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) pose with a blow-up check for $250,000. | Michael Romain /VFP

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

At a March 29 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee meeting, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st) dropped off a $250,000 dummy check with the village’s trustee board. The funds will be used to pay for roadway improvements along 18th Ave., from Madison Street to Washington Blvd.

At a Dec. 20 regular meeting, Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet Jr. said that village officials were anticipating the funds, adding that the county was “highly considerate of Maywood.”

Village officials didn’t give any timeframes for the project, which totals $351,600. The village will pay all of the costs related to design and construction engineering, which amount to an estimated $101,600.

The work will include “the removal and replacement of deteriorated concrete curb and gutter and sidewalks, the installation of hot-mix asphalt pavement leveling binder and surface courses,” among other improvements, according to the text of the Intergovernmental Agreement.

The 18th Ave. improvement project amounts to one of three major roadway improvement projects the village could embark on this year. In December, the village board approved $240,000 worth of services related to street, sideway, driveway apron and drainage improvements, among others, made to 17th Ave., from Madison St. to Washington Blvd.

In January, the board approved $1.15 million worth of roadway improvements for streets on 19th Ave., Quincy St., 4th Ave. and Wilcox.

At Wednesday night’s LLOC meeting, Boykin was accompanied by Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways Superintendent John Yonan.

When I came into this job two-and-a-half years ago, I asked folks how much money had each part of the [1st District] been receiving and that number was very, very low,” Boykin said. “Since we’ve been in , we’ve been able to get that number increased.” 

Yonan said that Boykin was putting it mildly, adding that the amount of money that was being directly allocated for roadway improvements in the 1st District was “pretty much zero,” before praising Boykin’s advocacy at county board meetings on behalf of communities like Maywood.

“This wouldn’t have happened without the village manager and his work, making sure he dotted all the ‘I’s’ and crossed all the ‘T’s’ and without the mayor and trustees’ support,” Boykin said, before praising Yonan for “transforming” his department.

“Nobody has done a better job at leading this agency than John Yonan,” Boykin said. “He’s always prepared and he runs a great, top-flight department.”

“Commissioner Boykin, many times when I’m up there appropriating millions of dollars, has raised his hand and said, ‘What’s my district getting,'” Yonan said, after also praising Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle for her focus on infrastructure improvements. “The answer was pretty much zero for his suburban communities.

“Under Commissioner Boykin’s leadership this is hopefully only the start of making public investments that are really significant … in Maywood,” Yonan said.

The Maywood Board of Trustees unanimously voted to move the IGA agreement solidifying the $250,000 grant to the next regular board meeting on April 4 for final approval. VFP

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Maywood to Make Energy Efficient Upgrades to 670 Street Lights

ComEd workerWednesday, March 8, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Soon, Maywood residents will be seeing differently in the dark.

During a March 7 regular meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees unanimously approved a contact with two companies, H & H Electric and Twin Supplies, LTD, that will result in the replacement of 670 lighting fixtures — 470 cobra head and 200 post top lighting fixtures — throughout Maywood with newer, energy efficient, LED technology technology.

The total cost of the project amounts to $373,035, with 75 percent of that total covered by incentive rebates the village will obtain through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The village will pay for the remaining 25 percent.

According to the contract, Maywood will also contribute the traffic control, signage and security during the installation process.

The new lighting fixtures, which will be installed by May, will be retrofitted with technology that allows them to come on as soon as it gets dark, as opposed to running on a timer, said Maywood Public Works Director John West during a March 1 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting.

West said the new lighting fixtures will go up along non-IDOT [Illinois Department of Transportation] streets.

“So anything except for First Ave., Roosevelt Rd., Chicago Ave. and a small part of 19th Ave.,” West said, adding that the new fixtures will provide the same luminosity for less money.

This is the just the latest upgrade to Maywood’s energy grid. Last April, ComEd officials installed energy efficient, smart-ready LED lighting on more than 380 ComEd-owned streetlights throughout Maywood.

The village was one of 50 municipalities in the state to receive the technology upgrade, which was provided through ComEd’s Smart Ideas Energy Efficiency Program.  VFP

Photo above: A ComEd worker installing an LED light fixture last April. | Photo submitted

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