Tag: Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization

At 50, NOMCO, Maywood’s Oldest Civic Group, Reminisces

Saturday, November 10, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews 

Featured image: Gick Schmidt, who helped found Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization, recalls the organization’s history during a September gathering held to commemorate NOMCO’s 50th anniversary. | Shanel Romain 

In 1968, Steve and Gick Schmidt were planning to move to New York City temporarily so that Steve could pursue his doctorate degree. The couple agreed to rent their home at 807 N. 5th Ave. to Robert King, a black professor at Concordia University in River Forest, his wife and their two children. 

Continue reading “At 50, NOMCO, Maywood’s Oldest Civic Group, Reminisces”

Maywood Housewalk Has Longtime Residents Seeing the Town in a Brand New Way

Maywood Housewalk_Trolley Line

A crowd of people who attended the Maywood Historic Homes Housewalk Trolley Tour on Sun. July 12, 2015. Bottom left: Janny Cornejo shows off her home at 304 S. 5th Avenue, which she is currently in the process of restoring to its original historic state.

Maywood Housewalk_CornejoThursday, July 16, 2015 || By Michael Romain 

Mark Jurewicz has lived in Maywood all his life. He said his grandmother moved here in “1908 or 1909.” All his aunts and uncles were born here. He’s rooted.

“But it still takes me by surprise when I look at some of these homes,” he said. “I’ve driven by these houses my whole life and I go, ‘Whoa, I didn’t know it looked like this inside.’”

Jurewicz was a volunteer at last Sunday’s Maywood Historic Homes Housewalk Trolley Tour. This year’s Housewalk was the first since 2013. The event is sponsored and organized by Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization (NOMCO).

About a dozen homes were on display, including that of Janny Cornejo. About an hour into the event, she was sitting on the porch of 304 S. 5th Avenue — it’s called the Peake House in the brochure.

It was built around 1870 in the mold of Gothic Revival architecture and its American offshoot, called Carpenter Gothic.

“The style is inspired by Gothic cathedrals in its vertical reach and buttresses, and uniquely American in its use of timber, an improvisation on the carved stone features of authentic Gothic architecture,” the brochure reads.

Today, however, a commuter driving through town might mistake the house for just another blighted building. It’s easy to dismiss and hard to wonder why it was included on a tour of a village’s prized architectural gems — until you walk inside.

It takes a bit of historical knowledge and imagination, but the home’s subtle grandeur and plain grace grows on you.

As soon as you step inside, a textured, richly layered fireplace greets you. There are gables and diamond windows and a curved staircase.

“This is going to be restored to its original state,” Cornejo said of the home. “The wallpaper you see is original. The house has its original wood and fireplace. We’re going to restore all of that.”

And so it went that Sunday — one full of oohs and aahs and ahas.

Laura Lange, chairwoman of the Housewalk’s planning committee, said at least 100 people from places such as Oak Park and Elmhurst showed up at the Maywood Library, 121 S. 5th Avenue, within the first hour; waited to load a trolley; and commenced a rare exploration of a town — like Cornejo’s Peake House — that most out-of-towners would more likely drive by than serenade with their curiosity.

The Housewalk was an experience longtime Maywood residents like Barbara Eaves, who has lived in the village for 45 years, relished.

This was Eaves’ first year volunteering and her first experience with the Housewalk. As much as she knows this place already, she was also an explorer in her own right.

“I didn’t know about all of these historical homes,” she said. “I did know that 9th Avenue used to have a seminary, but the other homes I didn’t know about.”

Eaves, and the other volunteers, said it’s a learning experience that’s valuable for Maywood’s image.

“We’re looking to cast Maywood in the positive light that it deserves,” said Lange. “This is a tradition that’s been going on and off since the 1980s. We have very good housing stock here from all kinds of historical housing styles.”

Lange said planning the event was a community affair, with residents “even pitching it just to make sure the streets are cleaned.”

“Anytime we can showcase our community, why not? This accentuates the positives and it shows the outside world that this is a community so people volunteering and people coming in from other places can see that we love it, we’re engaged in it and we have something to offer,” said longtime resident and Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, who was a volunteer this year.

Former mayor and current Trustee Henderson Yarbrough, who also volunteered, said he was drawn into service by Lange’s passion and her commitment.

“I think this is a very good thing for Maywood,” he said. “Laura tries so hard to help the village be all it can be, how could I say no?”

“Hopefully, we’ll keep bringing the good along with these Housewalks,” said Jurewicz. “In the meantime, we’ll just keep working trying to get better and better.” VFP

Maywood Housewalk_Cornejo II  Maywood Housewalk_Crowds Maywood Housewalk_Eaves Maywood Housewalk_Jurewicz Maywood Housewalk_Lennel Grace Maywood Housewalk_Murphys  Maywood Housewalk_Trustees Maywood Housewalk_Volunteers

Maywood Trustee Hopefuls Lay Out Their Viewpoints at NOMCO Forum

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 || By Michael Romain 

On Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22, Neighbors of Maywood Community Organization (NOMCO) held its annual candidates forum for individuals running for open seats on the Maywood Board of Trustees, the Maywood Park District Board of Commissioners, and the school boards for districts 89 and 209. Elections are April 7.

Below are candidate responses to questions asked during Saturday’s trustee forum. They don’t include opening or closing statements: 

What do you feel the village can do differently to improve the appearance of properties and the appearance of the village overall? How do you see code enforcement’s role in correcting problem properties and crime (as this is seemingly an age-old problem that fails to get addressed)?

Mary ‘May’ Larry: She insisted that the village needs to be more diligent in its approach to abandoned homes and should remove favoritism from the enforcement process. She also stressed that residents should “be good neighbors.”

Henderson Yarbrough: He stressed the importance of an effective village manager who holds “everybody accountable” and a board that holds the village manager accountable.

Trustee Ron Rivers: He said that the village should fully staff the code enforcement department and empower the manager to enforce the codes that are on the books. He claimed that, currently, the village only has three code enforcement officers. He also stressed that residents have a responsibility to maintain the town’s appearance. “Each one of us, as residents, owes it to each other to comply with codes and help your neighbor,” he said.

Marcius Scaggs: He said that the village has allowed homeowners to “slice and dice up single family homes” into multiunit properties. He stressed the need to restore those properties to their original states. He also stressed that the village should partner with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and “do other things than just make vacant lots and tear down buildings.” He said that “code enforcement needs to be pushed” and suggested the village explore options such as cleaning up and renting out vacant properties.

Readith Esther: She said that it’s important that the village set high expectations for the town’s general upkeep and that it employs a village manager who has “expectations of excellence” and is able to enforce high performance standards.

Joe Ratley: “You can’t start with the village manager until you get a competent board,” he said. He noted that the board should hold the manager’s “feet to the fire” and ensure that he knows what code needs and expects the department to do its job. He also stressed partnering with the police department as well on code enforcementt measures.

Isiah Brandon: He said that the respect level within the village should increase among residents and village employees, adding that if workers “can’t do their jobs, they need to leave.” He also stressed the need to “look to outside agencies”such as the Cook County Land Bank for help with efforts to rebuild and maintain the property base. He added that the “culture of respect starts with the board.”

Tanya Butler: She emphasized that the code department “needs to be restructured” and revamped. “I totally concur with everything everybody up here said about code enforcement,” she noted, adding that it is unfair that the burden of maintaining properties is placed on senior citizens. She said the village should assist them with keeping their properties up to code.

Cheryl Ealey-Cross: She said that many abandoned homes in the village are the result both of the recent flooding and the economic crash of several years ago. “There’s crisis but the board can’t address it,” she said, adding that the board needs to hire a qualified village manager to assess the strengths and weaknesses of code enforcement.

For those who have served as a trustee before, why should we reelect you to another elected position given we have seen quite a bit of dilapidation in our community on the current officials’ watch?

Cheryl Ealey-Cross: She said that she was appointed, which doesn’t equate with having been elected; however, she added that “there’s work to be done” and that “I’m the only sitting trustee asking the tough questions and letting the public know what needs to be done.”

Joe Ratley: “The board that’s been in place for the last eight years and the majority in the last two years have not been competent enough to move this village forward,” he said. “Anybody who serves on that board should not be reelected under any circumstances due to the fact that the community is not moving forward.”

Readith Esther: “Working on any board or in any capacity, it is important that you learn how to work with people,” she said. She noted that residents need to learn “how to vote [based] upon issues,” not on the personalities of those making the motions.

Marcius Scaggs: “It takes a majority to move anything going forward,” he said. “And if you sat there and was not part of the majority, your voice can be heard a thousand times” but it won’t matter. He said this is why it takes a team to govern. He said that when he had served as a trustee in the past, he tried to do right “but got outvoted.”

Ron Rivers: “We need a board that’s going to work together and pull for the common good in the same direction,” he said. “With the economic downturn, all of these villages have experienced” problems, he added.

Henderson Yarbrough: He said that residents should reelect him based on his past accomplishments. “I don’t completely agree with the premise of the question,” he said, adding that there was progress made during his tenure as mayor. “I just named $17 million worth of progress that’s been made,” he said, referencing money that he argued was brought to Maywood on his watch.

For those candidates who have never served as a trustee before, what would you bring to the table that you feel has not been brought by other officials before you?

Tanya Butler: She said that she’ll bring her experience from serving on boards and committees both within and outside the community. “Also, because I live here and I care about my community, I want to see it flourish.”

Isiah Brandon: He said that he hopes to increase the level of conversation on the board, adding that the present trustees on the board have focused too much on “petty politics.”

Mary “May” Larry: She referenced her skills as a grant writer and her assistance with a summer youth grant as a testimony to her value-added to the board.

What, specifically, does Maywood have that is appealing to business or industry to come to Maywood? What would you do to facilitate growth and development? What is your plan for the Maywood Market property?

Mary “May” Larry: “We need investors here in Maywood,” she said, touting her relationship with the Church of God in Christ and Magic Johnson. She said she had personally spoken with him and he told her that he’d be willing to take a look at Maywood.

Henderson Yarbrough: Inspiring investors starts with the manager and building services and pride within the community. He said that residents should speak proudly about their town, as opposed to negatively. He also emphasized Maywood’s historic housing stock as an advantage.

Ron Rivers: “Maywood is a diamond in the rough,” he said, referencing the town’s proximity to major highways, two airports and railroads. Echoing Yarbrough, he said that residents should “stop beating Maywood up.”

Marcius Scaggs: He said that Maywood has a lot of historic value that would have even more value if all of its residents bought into the community. He said that the village should also engage major employers such as Tony’s and Mariano’s in productive dialogue.

Readith Esther: She said that Maywood “needs to come together” and that the board should stop getting on television and downplaying the village. She said that the village needs professional examples among staff and community members to work to attract business.

Joe Ratley: He said that, currently, Maywood has leaders who lack vision and who can’t take advantage of its prime location.

Isiah Brandon: He said that the current board has “turned down economic development,” citing the failed Wintrust Bank negotiations as an example. “Wintrust Bank should have been on First Avenue,” he said, adding that the board can’t talk about needing economic development when it is turning down development.

Tanya Butler: She said that the community needs to develop what it already has and that the traffic flow into Maywood should be improved by way of additional Eisenhower entrance-exit ramps.

Chery Ealey-Cross: She lauded the town’s location and its homes, but said that it lacks leadership in the economic development department. “We don’t think like marketers and developers,” she said.

Some candidates addressed questions about their real and/or perceived weaknesses.

Isiah Brandon, is [your nonprofit] Youth on the Move in good standing with the Secretary of State? And if not, do you still receive any funds?

Isiah Brandon: “The organization is currently under a restructuring phase and we are currently working on switching our board around,” he said.

Henderson Yarbrough, when you took over Maywood ten years ago, the village was in great fiscal condition. When you left two years ago, the credit rating had gone down and finances had gone down. As trustee, how can you bring to Maywood what you couldn’t as mayor?

Henderson Yarbrough: “I disagree with the premises of part of that question,” he said, noting that he thinks “we made progress” during his two terms in office. He said “every city and village around” was affected by the downturn in the economy. “Some mistakes were made, of course, but we learned from our mistakes. As long as we honestly dealt with the problem and continued to work to overcome it, that’s what I will continue to do if elected to be on the board of trustees.”

Mary “May” Larry, some of us noticed you’re running for two elected offices [trustee and park district commissioner]. Can you enlighten us on your rationale for that?

Mary “May” Larry: “We’re in a deficit here,” she said. “There’s a storm that is hovering over Maywood.” She said that she was proud to give back to the community and that she has ample time to devote to both offices.

Marcius Scaggs, while serving on the special events commission was admirable, you seemed to disappear between elections. What village activity have you been involved in since then?

Marcius Scaggs: “In between elections, I did not want anything to be said I had anything negative to do with the impact of what the current regime is doing,” he said. “I did not speak ill about anybody, that is not my character,” he said. In addition, he noted that personal reasons, such as taking on a second job, took up much of his time.

Ron Rivers, what have you brought to local government in the last four years?

Ron Rivers: He said that he negotiated the grading of the village’s unpaved alleys and have worked with trustee Melvin Lightford on fishing trips for area youth. VFP