Tag: Mayor Ronald Serpico

Melrose Park Breaks Ground on $250M Expansion of Manufacturing Site

Tuesday, September 26, 2017 || By Local News Curator || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Left to right, Fresenius Kabi officials Steve Nowicki, Dr. Michael Schoenhofen, John Ducker and Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico during a groundbreaking ceremony that marked the start of work on a project to expand the company’s Melrose Park facility. | Fresenius Kabi

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Breaking: Melrose Park Strikes Down Sanctuary City Ordinance

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Melrose Park residents showing their support for a sanctuary city ordinance in the village during a regular board meeting in February. | File

Monday, April 10, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

During an April 10 regular board meeting, the Melrose Park Board of Trustees unanimously struck down a decision to direct the village’s attorneys to prepare an ordinance that would make Melrose Park a sanctuary city. Trustee Jaime Anguiano was not in attendance.

The board did, however, unanimously pass what Mayor Ron Serpico called Resolution 1217, which “reaffirms” the village’s welcoming policy.

After the vote on the sanctuary city ordinance was over, someone in the audience vowed that more protests would follow tonight’s decision.

For roughly four months, members of the Melrose Park-based social justice nonprofit PASO-West Suburban Action Project have been trying to get Melrose Park’s Board of Trustees to pass a welcoming ordinance.

And for roughly four months, the board has resisted, with Serpico arguing that the measure would be unwise, given President Donald Trump’s threats to withhold federal funds from municipalities that won’t collaborate with federal efforts to deport individuals suspected of being in the country illegally.

On March 27, Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubled down on Trump’s threats when he threatened that the justice department would deny cities that adopt sanctuary ordinances federal law enforcement grants.

Serpico also argued that a welcoming ordinance measure would only be symbolic and would give a false sense of hope to immigrants who think that the proposal might prevent deportations in Melrose Park.

Officials with PASO, however, have said that the local immigrant community doesn’t believe that a welcoming ordinance would be a panacea. It will, they argue, act as an added layer of protection against the federal government’s efforts to deputize local law enforcement agencies so that they might carry out Trump’s orders nationally and on a comprehensive basis.

Last month, PASO organized a march outside of Melrose Park’s village hall. VFP

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Melrose Park Mayor Refuses to Let Trustees Answer Questions on Welcoming Proposal

ron_serpicoTuesday, March 14, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Supporters of a proposed welcoming ordinance that would “draw a firm line between police and [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement], disentangling the criminal and immigration system,” according to a flyer circulated by the nonprofit PASO — West Suburban Action Project, were back in force at a March 13 regular meeting of the Melrose Park Board of Trustees.

A crowd of at least 100 people left a Feb. 27 board meeting disappointed after Mayor Ronald Serpico refused to commit to the proposal. The mayor, however, said that he’ll “keep the lines of communication open.”

At Monday’s meeting, Serpico wasn’t quite as coy as some residents who spoke insisted that the board at least put the proposal, which wasn’t an item listed on that night’s agenda, to a vote. They also sought the input of individual trustees on the issue.

The last time a trustee spoke on the proposal was at a Jan. 23 regular meeting, where Trustee Arturo Mota said that Melrose Park “has been very supportive of being a welcoming community.” Mota didn’t directly comment on PASO’s proposed ordinance. Serpico was absent.

“Why can’t you come to a vote? Why can’t a decision be made? This has been brought up for a little over a month,” said Melrose Park resident Sandy Aguirre at the March 13 meeting. “Can I get an answer to my first question from each board member? Why can’t you say yes or no?”

“First of all, I don’t think that’s a proper question,” said Serpico. “Second of all, I set the agenda, so if you want to blame someone for it not being on the agenda, you can blame me.”

“This is not a blame game,” Aguirre responded. “I’m asking for a response from each of the board members.”

“No, I’m going to respond,” said Serpico. “So, if you don’t want my response …”

Throughout the meeting, Serpico said that he believes passing PASO’s ordinance would be promoting a “false sense of hope,” because the village has no real authority to stop the federal government from enforcing immigration-related measures in Melrose Park.

He also repeated arguments, made last month, that the village has already taken measures— such as a decision to stop a click-it-or-ticket campaign — designed to help assuage some residents’ fears of deportation.

PASO officials, however, have noted that President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration directives are highly dependent on deputizing local law enforcement agencies to help carry out the whims of the federal government.

In this sense, a legally binding ordinance would be much more than symbolic, they’ve argued. It would be an additional mechanism safeguarding Melrose Park residents against Trump’s mass deportation plans by ensuring them that the federal government won’t deploy Melrose Park’s resources to carry out the president’s whims.

Serpico, however, said he doesn’t believe passing an ordinance would provide that much of additional protection.

“So we’re going to keep out the federal government if they decide to come in? There’s a false sense of expectations,” the mayor said. “I don’t understand [the argument that the ordinance would provide an additional layer of security].”

“Because you’re not an immigrant! You’re not in our shoes!” some people hollered from the audience.

According to one resident of Melrose Park, who said that she serves on a parental advisory committee for Washington Dual Language Academy in Maywood, the number of parents who have been involved in the committee’s activities has significantly diminished recently. She said that some children are afraid “when they see a police car driving by their school.”

Another person who spoke during public comments — a mental health professional who works in Melrose Park — said that he’s seeing more cases of depression, anxiety and bullying.

“It’s not about … the board,” said Melrose Park resident Bobby Hernandez. “It’s about the families. It’s about Melrose Parkers.”

Serpico said that he would place the proposed ordinance on the agenda for the next regular board meeting scheduled for March 27, 6 p.m., at 1 N. Broadway in Melrose Park. He didn’t say, however, whether or not the board would put the proposal to a vote — or whether any trustees would be allowed to comment on it. VFP

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Melrose Park Board Meeting, Where ‘Sanctuary Village’ Ordinance was Scheduled for Discussion, is Cancelled

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Melrose Park trustees during a board meeting held last month. | File

Monday, February 13, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 4:34 p.m. 

A regularly scheduled meeting of the Melrose Park Board of Trustees, which was to be held tonight, Monday, Feb. 13, has been canceled, according to a public notice released by Village Clerk Mary Ann Paolantonio.

At a meeting on Jan. 23, Melrose Park trustees heard numerous public comments from community members who expressed support of a proposed ‘Welcoming Village’ ordinance.

Members of PASO – West Suburban Action Project, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrants and other vulnerable populations throughout the West Cook County suburbs — including Melrose Park, Stone Park, Maywood and Bellwood — were in the audience, along with District 209 school board member Claudia Medina and representatives from other organizations, during the meeting to express their support for the proposal.

Trustee Arturo Mota said that Melrose Park “has been very supportive of being a welcoming community,” adding that the village has also gotten behind local initiatives and state laws that would ease the burden of living for immigrants.

“When it came out that the state was going out for a vote to give undocumented immigrants an opportunity to get drivers licenses, we lobbied and made sure our state representative was out there voting for it because we knew how important that was,” he said.

The trustees tabled a motion to “establish Melrose Park as a sanctuary village and authorize the offices of the mayor and village attorney to prepare all documents for the aforesaid” due to Mayor Ronald Serpico’s absence.

Mota said that Serpico had been sick and that he wanted the board to hear as many arguments for and against the proposal before the measure was voted on.

In a phone call today, Mota referred questions about the meeting’s cancellation to Serpico’s office.

According to a spokesman for the mayor, Serpico is out of town and has been recuperating from “very serious back surgery.”

The spokesman said that, since the board did not have any time-sensitive items to vote on, such as budgetary issues, the rest of the trustees opted to cancel the meeting. VFP

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Melrose Park Board Supports ‘Sanctuary Village’ Ordinance

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Melrose Park trustees (below) and members of PASO (above) during a Jan. 23 meeting, where an ordinance designed to make the village a welcoming community was discussed. | Shanel Romain/VFP

dsc_0117Tuesday, January 24, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

During a Jan. 23 regular meeting, members of the Melrose Park Board of Trustees expressed their support for a ‘Welcoming Village’ or ‘Sanctuary Village’ ordinance, a measure that also has the vocal support of numerous community advocates.

Members of PASO – West Suburban Action Project, a nonprofit that advocates for immigrants and other vulnerable populations throughout the West Cook County suburbs — including Melrose Park, Stone Park, Maywood and Bellwood — were in the audience, along with District 209 school board member Claudia Medina and representatives from other organizations, during the meeting to express their support of the ordinance.

According to a flyer that PASO posted to its Facebook page, the proposed ‘Welcoming Village’ ordinance would “bar city officials from contacting, collaborating with, or assisting Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) solely because of a person’s immigration status.”

The ordinance would also “draw a firm line between police and ICE, disentangling the criminal and immigration system.”

For instance, federal immigration authorities would not be allowed access to village databases, “facilities, and other resources for the purpose of implementing registries based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, immigration status, national or ethnic origin, or to conduct civil immigration enforcement.”

Sister Noemia Silva, of the Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo-Scalabrinians, expressed support for the ordinance during public comment.

“For many of us, our parents or grandparents or great-grandparents were foreigners at one time in this great nation,” Silva said, before offering a person account of how she’s been affected by migration.

“I’ve had the opportunity to serve migrants from diverse backgrounds who have, at times, suffered hardships due to forced immigration,” she said. “I’ve seen too many families destroyed and torn apart due to deportation. My heart breaks to see men and women separated from their children.”

Silva said that she prays and hopes that Melrose Park “can become a just model in which other cities can learn from and imitate.”

“At a time when immigrant communities are under attack, this ordinance will give hope and support immigrants and their families to live, thrive and contribute to the community without fear of deportation,” she said. “Melrose Park can be a ray of light.”

Trustee Arturo Mota said that Melrose Park “has been very supportive of being a welcoming community,” adding that the village has also gotten behind local initiatives and state laws that would ease the burden of living for immigrants.

“When it came out that the state was going out for a vote to give undocumented immigrants an opportunity to get drivers licenses, we lobbied and made sure our state representative was out there voting for it, because we knew how important that was,” he said.

A motion to “establish Melrose Park as a sanctuary village and authorize the offices of the mayor and village attorney to prepare all documents for the aforesaid” was tabled due to Mayor Ronald Serpico’s absence.

Mota said the mayor, who was not at the meeting because of illness, wanted to “address everyone who is for or against” the ordinance before the vote was held.

The board, Mota said, is expected to take a vote on the ordinance at its next regular meeting on Feb. 13. VFP

Shanel Romain contributed to this report. 

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At the Taste of Melrose Park, Nostalgia Served Fresh

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Employees of the family-owned Gia & Nat’s Gnocci man a booth at the Taste of Melrose Park’s last day on Sept. 4. Below, Cynthia Maiello-Gluecklich, the executive director of the Melrose Park Library, has been coming to the annual event since it first started 35 years ago. | Shanel Romain/Village Free Press

taste-of-melrose-park-ivTuesday, September 6, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || UPDATED: 12:57 p.m.

Cynthia Maiello-Gluecklich has been visiting the annual Taste of Melrose Park since she was a child. Last weekend, the Melrose Park native joined thousands of others at the 35th anniversary of the annual event, which was held within and around the Melrose Park Civic Center, 1000 25th Ave.

The three-day fest attracted numerous local restaurants like Gia & Nat’s Gnocci and the River Forest chocolatier Donna Fantetti-Slepicka (whose tent lured fest-goers with the delectable aroma of chocolate-covered bacon), and coincided with HispanoFest, billed as the largest Hispanic festival in the western suburbs.

In addition to music and food, a range of local businesses and organizations pitched tents — they included Westlake Hospital, Winston Plaza shopping center and the Melrose Park Public Library, of which Maiello-Gluecklich is executive director. A large Ferris wheel erected just across the street from the Civic Center loomed high above the revelry.

The sheer magnitude of this year’s fest, Maiello-Gluecklich said, is a far cry from the event’s beginnings.

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Attendance at the Taste of Melrose Park may have gotten up to 100,000, guessed Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico, pictured below left. | Shanel Romain/Village Free Press

taste-of-melrose-park-ii“In the very first few years, there were no restaurants,” she said. “It was always large, but the vendors have changed. It’s always been fun. When I was younger, people were making their family recipes and bringing them out. And as kids we could hang out with our friends. You felt like you were so cool, because you were hanging out by yourself.”

Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico said he’d guess that the weekened event would attract close to 100,000 people, particularly considering the picturesque weather.

“In the beginning, most of the booths, a lot of them, were (occupied) by families,” Serpico recalled. “This all started when, 35 years ago, a few members of the village got together and decided to do an event.”

Over the years, that small event has evolved into what the longtime mayor called a smaller and less congested Taste of Chicago. He said a few key factors keep people coming back. For one, he said, the fest is free to enter. There’s no admission charge. And vendors can’t charge more than $3.00 for food.

Natalie Anzaldi, 28, said her family has been serving food at the Taste since she was 15 years old. The Melrose Park-based Gia & Nat’s Gnocci sells pasta from the family’s home.

“We just do this out of our kitchen,” Anzaldi said. “People come up and ask for pasta. We ask if they want red sauce or no red sauce; cheese or no cheese. That’s it.”

It’s a simple tradition that matches the Fest’s venerability, which Anzaldi said her family considers something like an annual sojourn.

For many attendees, the Fest provides an opportunity to return to their past.

“There’s good Italian food and you see people you went to high school and grammar school with,” said Annette Impallaria, who moved out Melrose Park some time ago and manned the booth, co-sponsored by Melrose Park Village Clerk Mary Ann Paolantonio, where fest-goers could buy Fantetti-Slepicka’s chocolate-covered bacon.

“It’s fun,” said Impallaria. VFP

CORRECTION: This article has since been updated to correct for name confusion. Annette Impallaria was interviewed, not Clerk Mary Ann Paolantonio. VFP regrets the error.

Below left, Miss Teen Melrose Park Yajara Vera, Miss Berwyn Latina Vanessa Arroyo, Miss Illinois Latina Priscilla Perez, Miss Teen Illinois Latina Verenice Ruiz and Miss Melrose Park Latina Guadalupe Arreola. Donna Fantetti-Slepicka, of River Forest Chocolates, hands out her famous chocolate-covered bacon (below fourth from left). 

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Melrose Park to Cut Ribbon on Affordable Veterans Housing June 14

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The site plan for Veterans Village in Melrose Park. Below, a visual of one of the 34 single family homes planned for the development. | UrbanWorks, Inc.

Safe Haven house.pngWednesday, June 8, 2016 || By Michael Romain 

The social service nonprofit A Safe Haven Foundation will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Flag Day, Tuesday, June 14, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., to mark the development of 35 single family homes designed for veterans and their families

Last November, Melrose Park elected officials and community leaders broke ground on what’s being called Veterans Village, 101 15th Ave.

“We are delighted that the Safe Haven Foundation and the West Suburban Housing Development are able to build these new homes which will benefit homeless veterans and those in transition after having done so much to serve our country,” Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico said at the time.

According to UrbanWorks, Ltd., the architecture firm that designed the homes, “Each house’s design serves the specific needs of veterans, with abundant daylight a key feature. A boxy brick, wood and glass front provides a contrast to an overall gabled form that relates to the predominant neighboring house type.”

The entire project is scheduled to be completed by sometime next year, according to the firm’s website.

A statement released by A Safe Haven notes that the organization “helps people aspire, transform and sustain their lives from homelessness to self-sufficiency with pride and purpose.”

The organization also “provides the tools for each individual to overcome the root causes of homelessness through a holistic, scalable model. A Safe Haven’s visible social and economic impact unites families, stabilizes neighborhoods, and creates vibrant, viable communities.” VFP

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