Tag: David Myers

Maywood Approves >$100K in Backpay for Wrongfully Terminated Worker

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews  

During a Sept. 19 regular meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees approved a payment of $106,128.13 in backpay to a village employee who alleged that he was wrongfully terminated in 2014. He has since been reinstated.

The board voted 5 to 1 in favor of the settlement, with Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins the lone dissenting vote. Maywood Trustee Melvin Lightford was absent.

Continue reading “Maywood Approves >$100K in Backpay for Wrongfully Terminated Worker”

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Grocery Store Proposal for Former Maywood Market Stalled

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

An entrepreneur’s plan to purchase and turn 615 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood, which once housed the former Maywood Market, into a full-service grocery store called Save More Fresh Market has hit a snag in the road, according to village of Maywood officials.

Ali Hamden had offered $400,000 for the 22,000-square-foot, village-owned building and the roughly 61,000-square-foot, village-owned parking lot next to it.

Continue reading “Grocery Store Proposal for Former Maywood Market Stalled”

Village Officials Say They’re Moving Fast to Tear Down Hazardous Properties

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An abandoned auto repair shop on the 1100 block of South 17th Ave., which is slated for fast-track demolition. | Village of Maywood

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

During a July 12 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee meeting, Maywood village officials said that they’re getting closer to executing a measure unanimously approved by the Board of Trustees in March to put 12 hazardous properties in the village through the fast-track demolition process.

Fast-track demolition allows municipalities to bypass the courts and demolish properties, no higher than three stories that are “open and vacant and determined by the Village to be continuing hazard to the community,” according to a March memo drafted by the village’s contracted law firm, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins.

Village officials provided an update on the demolition process after at least two residents complained about an abandoned auto repair shop located on the 1100 block of South 17th Ave. that was among the 12 properties slated for demolition.

Maywood Village Manager Willie Norfleet Jr. said that the former auto repair shop was the “location we caught [and arrested] our first official fly-dumper.” Norfleet said the person was throwing material inside of the boarded-up building. The suspect’s truck was also confiscated.

“Hopefully, [that building on 17th Ave.] comes down very shortly,” Norfleet said, adding that he hopes within the next 30 to 90 days.

Maywood Assistant Village Manager David Myers said that the village’s attorneys have begun the process of verifying the owners of the 12 properties and are working on sending out letters to those owners, which is required as part of the process.

“The process is still moving,” Myers said. “We have signs ordered. We just need the green light to start the demolition process.”

Attorney Michael Jurusik said that a program administered through the Cook County Sheriff’s office will actually carry out the demolitions, saving the village money. But the speediness in which the process is carried out could also depend on how long it takes the county to act, he said.

“We’re moving as fast as possible,” he said. “We’re doing the minimum due diligence necessary to make sure the property owners have minimal notice of what to do with the properties. Our ducks are all lined up in a row. We’ve approved everything we need to approve on our end.”

Other properties scheduled for fast-track demolition:

  • 1825 S. 22nd Ave. 
  • 1821 S. 21st Ave. 
  • 1420 S. 21st Ave.
  • 1304 S. 21st Ave. 
  • 1248 S. 21st Ave.
  • 419 S. 21st Ave. 
  • 1817 S. 20th Ave. 
  • 440 S. 14th Ave.
  • 1205 S. 16th Ave. 
  • 1242 S. 16th Ave.
  • 2108 S. 8th Ave. 

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At Resource Fair, Maywood Seniors Enjoy Chair Yoga

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Senior citizens participate in Chair Yoga during the April 22 Ideas for Life Senior Fair held in Maywood. Below, a senior receives a free health screening. | Michael Romain/VFP

Maywood Senior Fair_1Thursday, April 27, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

More than 100 senior citizens packed the Maywood Multipurpose Building, 200 S. 5th Ave., last Saturday for several hours of free health screenings, resource workshops, socializing and even Chair Yoga.

The April 22 event, dubbed the “Ideas for Life Senior Fair,” was organized by the Village of Maywood and Solutions for Care, an organization started in 1972 to assist senior citizens and adults living with disabilities. The fair was the first of its kind in the organization’s history.

“The purpose of this was to connect seniors in Maywood and other areas in Proviso Township with resources and have them all in one room,” said Christine Flynn, a representative with Solutions for Care.

Along with Solutions for Care, other local anchor institutions and organizations were represented at the fair, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Westlake Hospital, Oak Street Health, the West Cook YMCA and Proviso Township.

Westlake healthcare providers administered free health screenings while representatives with Proviso Township passed out literature promoting the township’s array of senior services, which include free transportation to and from medical appointments, handy man services application-writing assistance, among other services.

Representatives with the West Cook YMCA guided a roomful of at least 40 seniors in Chair Yoga exercises as David Myers, Maywood’s Assistant Village Manager, who helped coordinate the event, looked on with a smile.

“We wanted this to be an event where our seniors could get hardcore information that would be a resource to them,” Myers said. “I talked to Larry Shapiro, the Maywood Senior Club coordinator, and he thought it was a good idea.”

Connie Riales, a senior club member who helped Shapiro organize the event along with Myers and Flynn, said that most of the members of her club were in attendance.

“I think this is important because seniors still make a difference,” she said. “Without their wisdom, [the world] wouldn’t exist. We need the wisdom of our seniors.” VFP

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Maywood Looks to Make Washington Blvd. Pothole-free by 2020

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Washington Blvd., above | Google Earth || Bottom left: The street during roadway improvements made between 2nd and 9th Ave. in 2015. | File

Saturday, March 4, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

During a March 1 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees unanimously voted to direct village staff to apply for a county grant that could be the first step in a last push to finish resurfacing a remaining stretch of Washington Boulevard that’s badly in need of repair by 2020.

That grant preparation and talk of other street improvements are in anticipation of an infusion of federal infrastructure funding that might be available in the future.

Although village officials didn’t go into details about when, or in what specific form, that federal funding would come, local officials nationwide are positioning themselves for a possible infusion of cash in the wake President Donald Trump’s election. During his campaign, the president promised to deliver a $1 trillion dollar infrastructure plan.

According to policy experts and pundits, however, the president hasn’t publicized any details about the plan since taking office. Late last month, the New York Times editorial board wrote that “Republican sources sources told the news organization Axios […] that the White House wouldn’t unveil an infrastructure proposal until 2018.”

Local officials, however, are still taking steps to prepare for federal funding whenever, and however, it comes available.

During the March 1 meeting, Maywood officials said that they plan to seek $200,000 in county grant funds to spend on the design phase of a major Washington Blvd. enhancement project, which would make the project “shovel-ready” in the event that federal funding starts trickling down.

The grant is an aspect of the long-term transportation plan adopted by Cook County — the first in 75 years. After the plan’s adoption, the county’s Department of Transportation and Highways formed an $8.5 million pool of funds that would “cover the cost of planning and feasibility studies, engineering right-of-way acquisition, and construction associated with transportation improvements sponsored by local and regional governments and private partners,” according to the program’s website.

The program, also called Invest in Cook, is designed to help fund improvements that “are consistent with the five priorities” outlined in the county’s transportation plan, including the prioritization of modes of transportation that are alternatives to automobiles and the enhancement of the Cook County region’s “role as North America’s freight capital.”

During the March 1 LLOC meeting, Assistant Village Manager David Myers said that he and his staff attended a workshop on the county grant and an informational session on grant opportunities held recently in Bellwood and sponsored Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st), whose district encompasses most of Maywood.

Washington Blvd. is under village jurisdiction and is classified as a federal urban route, which means that it qualifies for federal funding. The resurfacing of a portion of the roadway, from 2nd to 9th Avenues, was completed in 2015.

Village officials said that it would cost an additional $3 million to complete the rest of Washington, from 1st to 21st Ave., that still needs to be resurfaced and enhanced. The federal government would pay around $1.2 million of that total. Officials said that they’ve been unsuccessful in prior attempts to secure funding for the much-needed improvements.

Myers said that Washington is a thoroughfare that connects multiple suburbs. One key criteria in the list of qualifications for the county grant is that the proposals benefit the region and not just a single municipality.

Myers added that the possible addition of a bike lane along Washington Blvd. could position the village to receive “extra credits” for being consistent with the county’s transportation priorities for the region, which include making infrastructure more amenable to alternative modes of transportation.

Other roadway priorities 

Myers said that village officials identified two other roadways in Maywood that might qualify for county funds to help pay for capital improvements. The roads — which include 19th Ave., from Oak St. to Madison St.; and Madison St., from First Ave. to the Des Plaines River — represent areas that are among the most concerning for village officials.

“The first thing on my list was Madison, from First to the bridge,” said Myers during last week’s LLOC meeting.

The total cost of that improvement project total more than $730,000, with around $550,000 coming from federal sources, village officials project.

Mark Lucas, an engineer with the village’s contracted firm Hancock Engineering, said that the village could secure a significant portion of funding for the Madison St. improvements from a grant from the North Central Council of Mayors and the Madison St. TIF fund. If the village can secure federal funding, construction on that stretch of road could be completed by next year.

The other problematic stretch of roadway, 19th Ave., from Oak to Madison, would cost over $2 million to fix, according to village officials. The federal government would cover around $1.2 million, with the village chipping in just over $800,000.

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A stretch of 19th Ave. in Maywood. | Google Earth 

Lucas said that 19th Avenue, which is currently designated a local roadway, could qualify as a federal urban route, opening it up to federal funding. The process, however, could take  up to 18 months, he said.

Village officials said that they recommended that Washington Blvd. be considered for the Invest in Cook grant, over the two previously mentioned capital projects, because “a major factor holding the project from proceeding is having a dedicated source of funds to complete it,” Lucas noted in a Feb. 22 memo.

“I am 100 percent on board with the Washington corridor,” said Trustee Isiah Brandon at the March 1 LLOC meeting.

“I think it makes sense,” he said. “It will be a long time coming for that particular area. It goes along with the completion of all those other major corridors like Madison and St. Charles. So many times, I hear people say that you know when you’ve reached Maywood, [while] driving down Washington Blvd because of the potholes you hit. We’re almost there, let’s finish the work.”

Myers said that village officials are currently working on the county grant, the deadline for which is March 15. VFP

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Maywood Approves Zoning Changes to Make Way for More Development

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Photos of property at the corner of Prairie Path and Wilcox St. that was recently rezoned by village officials. Below right, homes along 6th Ave. that were rezoned. | Photos by Village of Maywood

Tuesday, January 3, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 11:02 p.m.

At a Dec. 20 regular meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees unanimously approved three changes to the village’s zoning code that officials said are designed to give more leeway to current and prospective developers.

The changes, village officials said, are part of a series of recommendations in the village’s Comprehensive Plan, which was updated in 2014. The village’s current zoning ordinance was adopted in 2010.

The first measure involved changing the purpose statement of, and the list of special or permitted uses within, the Business Industrial Park (BIP) zoning district that encompasses properties along St. Charles Rd., between 6th and 15th Avenues.

The change, said Assistant Village Manager David Myers at a Dec. 14 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, will make it easier for developments like financial institutions, greenhouses, outdoor dining facilities and retail goods stores to setup in the area.

“We had a number of requests where restaurants were only allowed in this area [if] they were part of another use,” Myers said, before noting that the village’s Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals recommended the proposed change by a 7-0 vote. “We’re not taking away anything, we’re improving the actual use.”

Myers said that, in the past, staff members’ hands were tied when a prospective developer, which they considered a good fit for the area, was proposing to bring in a business that wasn’t allowed in the area because of the stricter zoning requirements.

“[The change] just opens up more opportunity for various uses to come in,” Myers said. “That’s the reason why we looked at expanding.”

Another change, which the Plan Commission also unanimously approved, entails rezoning multiple properties located on the west side of 6th Ave. — from St. Charles Rd. to Oak St. —  from BIP, or Business Industrial Park, to R-5, or multi-family residential.

In 2010, Myers said, the area was zoned commercial, but there has been more demand for residential purchases and the “properties still have residential structures on them,” according to a recent village memo.

One resident who purchased a two-flat, brick residential building was told that he would have to transform the property into commercial space because of the way the area was zoned.

“That doesn’t make sense. It may look good on paper, but it doesn’t make sense. I’m all about expansion and community development, but if you have areas that are residential and are used as residential, we need to continue that,” Myers said, adding that, unless there’s significant demand from actual developers, the zoning in residential and commercial areas should reflect their use.

The last zoning change, which involved some controversy, entailed rezoning a set of properties in a two-block area “bordered by the Illinois Prairie Path to the south, Wilcox St. to the north, 4th Ave. to the West, and 2nd Ave. to the east,” according to a village memo. Six properties in that area would be rezoned from R-5, or multi-family residential, to M-1, or general manufacturing district. Three properties in the area would go from OS, or open space special purpose district, to M-1.

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“These areas have always been manufacturing in nature dating to the era when the railroad line passed through this section of the village,” the memo stated. “These blocks were rezoned to residential in 2008 in anticipation the area would receive residential development near the Prairie Path Trail. The plans for residential development never came to be realized.”

Myers said that the proposal was recommended by the Plan Commission by a 6-1 vote. The lone dissenting vote was from a member who lived in the area and argued that manufacturing wasn’t a good fit for it.

Myers said that, after sending out notifications to all of the affected properties in the area that would be affected by the change, village officials “didn’t receive one call or letter inquiring about why we’re changing the zoning.”

The area, he said, may contain residential properties, but it’s surrounded by manufacturing facilities.

Two local business owners, Myers said, spoke before the Plan Commission on behalf of the zoning change. They explained that it had been difficult to attract prospective tenants to those manufacturing properties because of the zoning restrictions.

But the bulk of the discussion about the last zoning change, both at the Plan Commission meeting where the recommendation was voted on and at the Dec. 14 LLOC, involved how unsightly that area near the Prairie Path looks — which could be why some people may be in opposition to the manufacturing designation, officials argued.

They particularly focused their criticisms on a village-owned storage lot on Wilcox Ave. and on the appearance of neighboring businesses in the area. Recently, the village shelled out more than $20,000 to clean up half of the lot. Village officials have also put out bids on the construction of a fence around the lot.

“The whole area is not attractive,” said Trustee Isiah Brandon at the Dec. 14 LLOC. “You have bushes that need to be trimmed, garbage you can see through the fences and some of the businesses in the area aren’t maintaining their properties either. The village needs to hold them accountable to make that entire area attractive. That way, you won’t get so much push-back.”

Brandon said the village should implement a plan for beautifying the entire span of the path that goes through Maywood — from 1st to 21st Avenues — that might include the installation of murals and other public art works.

“I agree, we need to improve, but the village needs to set the tone,” Myers said. “That’s something we’re working on now. Before we get murals, let’s get the fences repaired, let’s get some weeds out.”

“We need to have good compliance both from the police and from code,” said Trustee Michael Rogers. “We got to make sure that everybody is doing their part to keep it from being a mess. Let’s watch it. We need to make sure it never gets close to being that way again.”

Rogers also recommended that the village seek out members of the consulting firm Houseal Lavigne, which was hired to draft the 2014 updated plan with funds from a federal grant. Since that plan was approved, the village hasn’t had any substantive engagement with the firm.

“You don’t want somebody to do a comprehensive plan and then just kind of fall off,” Rogers said. “Their perspectives as professionals is really important and can help the village tie things together, because if you do a zoning change and nobody knows that it changed, they’re not going to [bring their developments] here.” VFP

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Maywood Officials, Blindsided by Aldi’s Decision to Leave, Draw Up a Hail Mary Plan to Keep Store Open

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The Maywood Board of Trustees during a Dec. 14 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting where a plan for retaining Aldi was discussed. | Michael Romain/VFP

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 11:49 p.m.

After Maywood Trustee Michael Rogers learned about Aldi’s plan to close its only Maywood location at 216 Madison St. by Dec. 24, he made the roughly 40-minute drive to the company’s U.S. headquarters in Batavia, Illinois armed with nothing much more than hope and the first draft of a letter written by Assistant Village Manager David Myers.

“It was a cold call if you will,” Rogers said, recalling Tuesday’s road trip to Batavia, during a Dec. 14 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting. “I drove up there basically on faith, just hoping I would be able to get with someone.”

The bet paid off. Rogers said that, after numerous rounds of bureaucratic negotiations, he was able to land a face-to-face meeting with the company’s vice president.

“A few things. The letter, which I did not share with them [because it had not yet been approved by the board], needs to go to the vice president and it needs to go tomorrow morning, if at all possible.”

That letter, which Myers addressed to Aldi, Inc. Co-president Chuck Youngstrom, channels the community’s desperation while outlining what amounts to a hail mary pass with precious few minutes left in the fourth quarter.

“Closing your store would be a negative, a negative,” Myers read, apparently going off-script from the letter’s written content for added effect, “impact on the quality of life and access to fresh, quality foods for many village residents.”

After arguing that a significant population of low-income shoppers and senior citizens in Maywood would be imperiled with the store’s closing, the letter includes a list of incentives the village would be willing to offer the company in order for it “to operate in a financially sound manner in Maywood.”

Those incentives include a sales rebate agreement, real estate property tax incentives and the use of funds from the village’s Madison St. TIF fund, among other sources of financial relief.

The letter also addresses one of Aldi’s stated reasons for closing the Maywood location. Several Aldi locations, such as those in Bellwood, Broadview and Melrose Park, are within a few miles of the Maywood location, company officials stated.

“Each of those towns has multiple grocery stores. Maywood only has one [Aldi],”  Myers read.

He said that village officials were “blindsided” by the news, adding that the company’s decision had apparently already been made by the time he received a phone call from an Aldi vice president announcing the closing. Myers and other village officials have noted that they still don’t quite know the full reasons why Aldi is shutting down the Madison St. location.

“They had already talked to the employees,” Myers said. “Nevertheless, I said we still would like the opportunity to speak with you. It’s disappointing that we were not able to speak with you before this.”

Myers said that Aldi had even contacted Mayor Edwenna Perkins several months ago about possibly expanding.

“I got a call [that they] were going to build. I was shocked when you called me and let me know that they were having a problem,” Perkins said to Myers during the LLOC meeting.

The letter, which Myers said would be sent to Batavia on behalf of village officials and community members, was just one action in what has been several days of desperation played out on multiple fronts ever since Aldi made its announcement last week.

Some residents have fired off phone calls to trustees, village staff members and even to Aldi’s corporate headquarters, village officials said. Numerous community members have mulled the feasibility of petition campaigns, with at least one, Maywood resident Joellen Hopson, creating a change.org petition that has garnered 72 signatures as of Wednesday night.

Trustee Isiah Brandon, who noted that he spoke with an Aldi executive over the phone several days ago, said he received a desperate call from a woman who lives in River Forest but who shops at the Maywood Aldi. And earlier in the week, he said, he visited two senior living facilities within blocks of Madison Street Aldi.

“They said we should do all we can to save that store,” Brandon recalled the seniors telling him. “I believe that residents must be activated as well because it’s a shared ownership.”

Earlier this week, the blitz of worry at the ground level had resonated with politicians like Cook County Commissioners Richard Boykin (1st) and Jeffrey Tobolski (16th), who both sent off a joint letter to Aldi U.S. CEO Jason Hart.

“Closing the only grocery store in Maywood on Christmas Eve is a travesty,” the letter, made public on Dec. 13, read. In a separate statement, the two commissioners wrote that they “are committed to working with Aldi to determine the availability of county resources or incentives to encourage the company to keep this much-needed grocery store open.”

On Wednesday, Boykin and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th) announced that they would be holding a press conference regarding the store closing on Thursday afternoon at Village Council Chambers, 125 S. 5th Ave.

But during tonight’s LLOC meeting, Rogers cautioned against appearing too adversarial and taking a tone that might erode the company’s confidence in Maywood as a place to do business without controversy.

“One of the things that is important is the rhetoric,” Rogers said. “We really have to be careful. There were things that were said or read by their executives that were not helpful.”

Rogers didn’t specify the content of that rhetoric, only adding that company officials “were offended by things they read on the internet that they said were mischaracterizations and misinformations.” 

“We have to make sure that the emotional stuff be channeled in a way that does not help,” Rogers said. “We don’t want or need a fight. What we want to do is to compel a corporation to feel like it can be to their business interest to continue. That’s not a fight.”

When asked by his board colleagues whether there was some chance the village’s outreach could persuade Aldi executives to change course, Rogers struck a tone of sober optimism.

“If it was zero chance of having a reversal, I think they might have said that,” Rogers said. “I do think it is an uphill battle, but things change. Normally, corporations that are in retail, if you approach them the right way and early enough, you can be impactful.” VFP

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the correct location of Boykin’s Thursday press conference. VFP regrets the error. 

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