Category: Public Works

Timber! Resident Reaction to Saturday’s Storm Highlights Maywood’s Dead Tree Problem

Maywood Storm III

A tree that fell in back of a home on the corner of 8th Avenue and Randolph, downing power lines and destroying a fence in the wake of last Saturday’s storm. Below, Emma Smith points out dead trees near her home as she dispenses with branches from her backyard. Photos by Michael Romain.

Maywood Storm VMonday, July 20, 2015 || By Michael Romain 

MAYWOOD || Emma Smith, a Maywood resident who rents at 401 S. 12th Avenue, was picking up tree branches in her backyard on Sun. July 19, a day after a short, but mighty storm swept through town, uprooting whole trees and debranching limbs.

Smith’s house was relatively unscathed, but she said there were several homes nearby that sustained lots of damage. A block away, on the 400 block of South 13th Avenue, a home partially covered in blue tarp just missed being levelled by a tree at least 30 feet high. It had landed in the front yard, its branched top flowing into the house next door.

Smith pointed to two trees in her yard, one hovering above the roof of her home.

“Both of these are dead,” she said. “There are a lot of dead limbs all through these trees. They haven’t been planted that long ago, though. They really need to come down.”

Smith’s complaints of dead trees, or tree limbs, hanging precariously over her property was one repeated constantly during Sunday’s walk through the village. I started on 1st Avenue and ended on 20th Avenue, encountering three people who were attempting to cut down dead branches on their own before the next storm sends them hurling through a bedroom window or into the windshield of a moving car on the street below.

It’s not a stretch, even from even this cursory assessment of the storm’s damage, to conclude that the village is inundated with the dead branches of old and dying trees that hover precariously over homes and side streets. Some of them, like a dead branch in front of the home of Leonard (he declined to give his last name) at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Warren Street, seemed poised to fall down with the next strong breeze.

“Mine got a big crack in it,” he said. “It’s about to come down. Every time somebody from the village come over here I’m going to let them know about it.”

Leonard said he’d seen village-owned trucks drive through the area on Saturday night, but didn’t pick up anything.

“They came by with a truck that had a little trailer behind it with branches on it. They passed all of this stuff up. They came by last night with two trucks and a loader and they didn’t have anything on the loader and nothing on the back of the trucks.

“This is about the worst that it’s been,” he said. “I suppose the village doesn’t want to pay overtime if they don’t have to. This is a small village, so I understand that. I just thought they’d pick this stuff up yesterday. I guess they’ll get to the worst stuff first.”

Several houses down from Leonard on 2nd Avenue, two unidentified homeowners were evaluating the extent of the damage outside of their homes.

“The manager showed up yesterday,” said one man who was concentrating on taking down a dead branch from a tree in front of his home. He said the storm had ruined his deck.

“They’re supposed to come by tomorrow and move all of this stuff,” he said, referring to the stray stumps and branches in the street.

The side of a home at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Pine Street was almost wholly obstructed by one-third of a tree that had cracked at the base and was now lying on its side, blocking access to the porch.

One woman who was standing outside of the house talking with a friend about the damage said her mother lives in the house. She said the tree is very old.

“My mother wanted them to at least trim the tree a little bit so it wouldn’t be as heavy with all the branches,” she said. “Now, it’s an even bigger problem.” VFP

Maywood Storm I Maywood Storm II Maywood Storm III Maywood Storm IV Maywood Storm V Maywood Storm VI

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Maywood Property Owners With Damaged Sidewalks Could Get Help

Monday, May 18, 2015 || By VILLAGE OF MAYWOOD

Dear Applicant:

Through the 50/50 Sidewalk Replacement Program, the Village and the property owner equally share the cost of replacing damaged sidewalk areas within the right-of-way that would generally take up to ten years to complete if funded only by the Village. Sidewalks covered under this Program must have a break or lift of at least 1½ inches, be cracked over 50% of the entire square, sunken causing drainage problems or missing sections of concrete. The Program is conducted on a first come-first served basis. Once the Village’s allocated budget amount for the Replacement Program is obligated, no more 50/50 sidewalk applications or payments will be accepted during that fiscal year.

Application: Property owners who are interested in participating in the Program must fill out the Application and return it to Village Hall (Attn: Olivia Brown -Public Works- Dept.) as soon as possible along with a $100.00 nonrefundable deposit. Once enough applications are compiled, Village staff will inspect the sidewalks and send cost estimates to the applicants.

Payment: Property owners will be sent a quote and a deadline for payment in full of his/her share of the sidewalk project. Make check payable to Village of Maywood. The cost of sidewalk is approximately $_______ per 5’ x 5’ square. Therefore, the cost paid by the property owner would be approximately $_______ per sidewalk square. No payments shall be accepted, regardless of the payment deadline, once the allocated budget amount for the Replacement Program has been obligated through payments received from other property owners.

Work: Following receipt of payment, a contractor working for the Village will remove and replace the existing damaged sidewalk in accordance with Village specifications. The adjacent landscape area will be restored with topsoil and grass seed, if damaged. The contractor is responsible for the initial watering of the seed; property owners will be responsible for subsequent watering to establish the turf.

Parameters of the Program: 1) Regardless of its current size or configuration, each sidewalk square will be replaced in accordance with current Village standards and policies. 2) Concrete requires 5 days to harden to a point where it can support the weight of a vehicle without longterm damage. If sidewalk is replaced across the driveway or mouth of an alley, vehicle access will be prohibited during that 5-day period. If you are unable to access your property due to sidewalk replacement, please call the Police Department non-emergency number at (708) 450-4470 and indicate that your vehicles will be parked on the street.

To access the application, click here. VFP

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Maywood’s Large Item Pickup Started Today, May 5, to Continue Each Wed. Thru May 27

Bulk-Items3Tuesday, May 5, 2015 || By Michael Romain

This morning, Wed., May 5, the Village of Maywood and Allied Republic Services began their annual large item pickup service.

“Large, bulky household items and junk are acceptable. Smaller, loose items must be in containers or tied and bundled. Household hazardous waste will NOT be accepted. Please have your discarded items at your garbage pick-up point on Wednesday morning of the week Allied is coming to your neighborhood,” according to a village statement.

Public Works Director John West noted that residents will be able to put out “anything big,” from televisions to couches. Allied will also be picking up paint, he said. Residents throwing out paint, however, should be sure to purchase and apply a hardening agent to the paint before putting it out to waste, West said. Hardening agent can be purchased at Maywood’s family owned Braun Paint Co., 807 S. 5th Avenue, or at most hardware stores.

The dates and routes for the pickups are below: 

  • May 6: Roosevelt north to 1-290; 1st Avenue west to 25th Avenue

  • May 13: I-290 north to Madison; Greenwood west to 21st Avenue

  • May 20: Madison north to Railroad; 1st Avenue west to 21st Avenue

  • May 27: Main Street north to village limits; Des Plaines west to 9th Avenue

Fly-Dumping Focus of Maywood Police Officer’s Village Pride Cleanup Efforts

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Officer Allen loading tires that were illegally dumped in the back of an abandoned home on the corner of 9th Avenue and Washington Boulevard. Below, more tires stacked up in the home’s backyard. Photo by Michael Romain.

imageSunday, May 3, 2015 || By Michael Romain 

Fly-dumping is a perrennial concern among Maywood residents and village officials. It was the focus of Maywood Police community relations officer Pirsia Allen’s Village Pride-Village Wide cleanup efforts. The event was held last month as a way to concentrate the energies of the entire village — individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies — to sprucing the town up.

Allen, along with Sgt. Corey Cooper, has been tasked with identifying dumpers and dump sites, making charges and/or arrests and coordinating with the public works department to clear dumping sites.

During last month’s cleanup, Allen identified an abandoned home on the corner of 9th Avenue and Washington Boulevard as the site of several dozen car tires that were sloppily stacked in the alley behind the home and in a high pile in the empty home’s backyard.

As he was picking up a tire to load it on the back of a public works truck, Allen pointed out a puddle of stagnant water that had accummulated in the inside of the tire.

“That’s where mosquitos harboring all kinds of diseases accumulate,” he said. “The people who do this often come outside of Maywood, they don’t live here.”

Allen said the dumpers often wait until after public works employees get off of work in the evenings and dump the tires in the backyards of abandoned buildings. He said he and Cooper have been busy of late, identifying an average of two sites a day. Allen said that any residents who identify sites or people engaging in illegal dumping should notify the police.

But some residents claim that their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

“I have [a dump site] in the back of my home,” said resident C. Sharp at an April 29 board meeting. She noted that she’s been complaining about the site for two years to various village staff members to no avail.

“It’s like they don’t hear me,” she said, adding that she’s observed small kids jumping off of mattresses with coils that “could be infected with something” and a population of rodents, including “skunks, racoons, oppossums,” growing near the site. “We even have a coyote,” she said.

Sharp didn’t include the police among staff members she said she notified, which indicates that it may not be entirely clear among residents whether to treat this as a public works issue or a criminal issue. In reality, it’s both. Not only does it pose clear environmental and health risks, but the activity is also considered illegal by many municipalities and jurisdictions.

According to an illegal dumping prevention guidebook [PDF: EPA Fly Dumping Guide] created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fly dumping, also known as “midnight dumping,” or “wildcat dumping,” is “a major problem in many communities throughout the United States.”

The activity is known by those various terms, according to the EPA guidebook, because it often involves violators dumping materials in open areas, “from vehicles along roadsides, and late at night.”

The guidebook notes that illegal dumping presents myriad health and environmental risks. Dump sites often attract rodents and scrap tire piles, in particular, have been known to harbor disease-carrying mosquitos. The sites can also be bastions for gang and drug activity and may be particularly alluring, but dangerous, attractions for young children.

“In addition, countless neighborhoods have been evacuated and property damage has been significant because of dump sites that caught fire,” the manual states.

Dumping also decreases property values and makes the neighborhood in which it occurs less attractive to potential commercial and residental developers.

Dumping is a crime at virtually all levels of government — Federal, state and local. Section 92.28 of Maywood’s Code of Ordinances regulates dumping:

“(A) The owner, occupant or lessee of any premises in the Village shall remove from his premises or otherwise dispose of all garbage, ashes, rubbish and refuse and shall keep the premises free and clear of any accumulation of any such refuse.

(B) Pending disposal of garbage from any premises, the garbage shall be deposited in watertight containers with close fitting covers. Pending disposal from any premises, cans, bottles, metalware and similar inorganic household rubbish shall be deposited in rigid containers. All garbage and refuse shall be so stored as not to invite insects or rodents or be unsightly or a nuisance.

(C) No person shall deposit any garbage , rubbish or refuse on any street or public place or on any public or private property not his own except at any dump site which may be authorized by the Board of Trustees.

(D) No person shall bury any garbage within the Village.”

Maywood police are asking that any resident with knowledge of illegal dumping activity that could possibly lead to identifying and punishing perpetrators to call its investigations unit at (708) 450-4441. VFP

Below: A fly-dumping site located at 7th Avenue and Main Street. 

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When a Garage Collapses in Maywood …

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 || By Michael Romain || EDITORIAL || Updated: 6:21 PM

There’s an abandoned house at 900 N. 8th Avenue with a garage that has been in slow collapse for some time. Residents who live near the home have reported that it has been broken into and has become a magnet for rodents and, at any given time, may harbor squatters. In the delipidated garage, there’s an abandoned car that sinks in unison with its surroundings. The home was first brought to my attention in September 2014 — more than six months ago. It was even included in a post highlighting various public works deficiencies in town.

At the time, at least one resident in the area had reported the property to the village and requested the home be declared vacant and boarded up. According to a resident, village officials said they would add the property to some unspecified ‘to do’ list.

In September 2014, the structure looked like this:

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As of April 20, 2015, the structure looked like it does in the photos below:

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There may have been measures that were taken by the village to address this problem. Indeed, the home may have been added to a ‘to do’ list. The village could have declared the home abandoned without residents knowing it.

But this isn’t the point.

The point is that residents who live near a property that is literally collapsing in on itself have no knowledge of what the village plans to do with the property, because no plans have been communicated to residents in the area.

There have been no regular status updates even for residents who have expressed to village officials their concerns about the property.

Where is this aforementioned list, for instance? Who among the public can access it? If I lived next door to this house, I’d want, at minimum, to know that my local government had a plan for what to do with it (and properties like it) if not immediately, then at some reasonable point in the future. It would be nice, for instance, if I could keep track of that list as the village checked off problem properties. I can’t imagine a measure like this costing a lot of money to implement.

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But by most Maywoodians’ accounts, I can rest comfortably in assuming that nothing remotely approaching the above is taking place. And that it isn’t taking place isn’t simply because the village is broke or various departments, such as code enforcement and public works, are undermanned.

Besides, government officials communicating with the residents they purport to serve shouldn’t be considered a zero-sum cost. It should be considered an investment that yields dividends over the long run — both in dollars and in social trust.

To begin to restore that trust among residents, whatever department is responsible for maintaining the list that one resident referenced should make it public, so that citizens can see what, if any, progress has been made in dealing with Maywood’s nuisance properties.

That department should also make available a detailed, reader-friendly, description of its process for dealing with residential complaints, in general, and complaints about derelict properties, in particular. I’d be happy to publish this document and even promote it via Facebook and Twitter to as wide, and as willing, an audience as possible. Heck, I’d even help with the draft, if none exists presently.

If a property slowly rots in a state of post-apocalypse for more than six months and no village official seems to be around to deal with the blight, does it matter? To the people who have to live near it — it does. And it is to them the village owes an explanation for why, after several months of residents complaining, this property still looks like it belongs to a place where the sound of civilization — of mutual trust, of healthy dialogue and two-way communication — has ended. VFP

Water Main Break at 1110 Nichols Lane to Result in Shutoffs for Some Maywood Residents Starting Tomorrow, April 22, at 8 AM

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 || By COMMUNITY EDITOR 

Due to a water main break at 1110 Nichols Lane, water will be shutoff tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22, for property owners in the area. The shutoff will apply to properties along 11th Avenue, from Nichols Lane to Augusta, according to village officials. The shutoff will begin at approximately at 8 AM. The village will conduct a reverse 9-1-1 notification for people in the area. VFP

Broadview Trustee, Streets and Sidewalks Chairman, Sheds Light on 13th Avenue Repairs

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A patch of 13th Avenue. Google Maps.

imageFriday, April 17, 2015 || By Michael Romain

At a Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting held April 15, Maywood’s Board of Trustees finally broached what has long been a source of frustration for both. Maywood and Broadview residents — the rocky stretch of road that is13th Avenue, a street that’s given officials in both villages headaches for quite some time.

At the April 15 meeting, David Myerrs, Maywood’s acting village manager, said that a large reason why the street has been neglected is the lack of funding available to pay for the repairs. Myers said that repairs for the street would cost about $833,000, with each village contributing half, or $416,500 each.

But that estimate was presented before Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross noted that it doesn’t take into account the increased cost of materials. If that factor was included, the cost would jump to $920,000, with each village contributing a $460,000 each.

Myers stated that Maywood doesn’t qualify for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for the area, because it isn’t situated in one of Maywood’s lower-income tracts, a pivotal requirement for CDBG funding. That isn’t true for Broadview.

“From what I understand, based on the census tract, that might be part of the lower income area of Broadview, but it’s not the lower-income area for our community,” said Trustee Michael Rogers at the April 15 meeting.

But Kevin McGrier, a Broadview trustee since 2009 and the town’s chairman of streets, sidewalks and alleys, said that there’s a much deeper explanation for 13th Avenue’s neglect.

McGrier (pictured above right with Broadview Mayor Sherman Jones), said that his village has been trying to find funds to repair 13th Avenue for years and have approached Maywood officials in the past about splitting the costs of the repairs down the middle.

“We’ve utilized our CDBG funding for other streets and have them mapped out to 2017, but this was a particular project we wanted to have a partnership with Maywood on and they told us they didn’t have the funding for it and we’d have to fund the whole project,” he said.

McGrier said that he had met with former Maywood village manager William Barlow about a possible collaboration with Maywood, but was rebuffed. He also suggested that, at the time, Maywood could’ve been more aggressive in finding alternative sources of funding.

“If there were meetings [between Broadview officials and Maywood officials regarding 13th Avenue] before or after that, I wasn’t aware of them,” he said.

“We put Chris Welch on [the issue] when he was first elected and we came close to having the funding,” McGrier said. “This was something on our wish list,” he said, adding that he felt at the time that Maywood should have been engaging in similar attempts to retrieve the money, instead of being immobilized by a lack of CDBG funds.

McGrier, however, said the village’s recent activity and conversations on the matter showed promise. At the April 15 meeting, Myers referenced a letter of support in connection with 13th Avenue funding that was signed by state Rep. Welch (7th), state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (4th) and mayors Edwenna Perkin and Sherman Jones.

Asked why, for instance, each village couldn’t just repair the portion of the street that it owned, McGrier said, “It would be ridiculous if we just drew an imaginary line” and pursued the repairs alone.

He also noted that, altough both Broadview and Maywood share other streets, 13th Avenue is the only one is in such a state of dilapidation. VFP

To learn more about 13th Avenue’s boundaries, in addition to area information on Broadview, visit McGrier’s website here.