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Palos Hills mayor: 'Great time for the city'

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 

With a lack of progress in the continuing budget impasse in Springfield, Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett would prefer at this point to concentrate on projects that are taking place in his city.

Bennett said that development plans are occurring right now while other projects will begin in the near future.

First, he is always excited about the annual Palos Hills Friendship Fest, which will take place at the Moraine Valley Triangle, 107th Street and 88th Avenue, from Thursday, July 7 through Sunday, July 10.

“It’s a great time for the city,” said Bennett. “When I started this about 35 years ago, we felt it would bring the community together. It’s a great family event. We have a lot of people come out from not only Palos Hills but other communities. We have a lot of entertainment and great food. It really is a great event.”

Bennett is looking forward to the grand opening of the Bria of Palos Hills at 10400 S. Roberts Road on July 12. The new facility is part of the Strive Center for Rehabilitation. The center has modern amenities that please Bennett, who is excited about having the facility in Palos Hills.

“It is great to have something like this here for our residents who may need it,” said Bennett. “This is a $20 million project that has taken a couple of years of planning. We are very excited about this. It is a great addition to our town.”

The mayor also points out that the corner of 111th and Roberts Road will be revamped. Bennett said the corner could use a facelift, along with trying to fill some vacant storefronts.

“We are working on a beautification project for that corner,” said Bennett. “We would like to add some flower and a brick landscape to make it more appealing. I have been walking with country officials in the area to point out what we would like to do.”

Bennett said that he would like the corner to look like 143rd and LaGrange Road in Orland Park, which has also added flowers and brick landscaping to make the area more appealing.

And Bennett received a pleasant surprise with the Bettucci’s restaurant planning to reopen this month at 10331 S. Roberts Road. The restaurant closed without warning in March. Bennett is a fan of Bettucci’s, which also is located next door to City Hall. The business is in the process of interviewing and hiring employees.

Bennett has met with representatives of the Cal-Sag Trail about possibly building an annex trail in the city.

The mayor told members of the council and roughly a dozen residents in attendance at the committee-of-the-whole meeting May 19 that he was contacted by Cal-Sag officials in April and met with them last week to discuss a potential trail in Palos Hills.

“They’d like us to consider building an annex trail on our side,” Bennett said. “That is something we always wanted to do at some point in time.

“Right now we are just in the discussion stage, but obviously we’re pretty excited about possibly being able to include additional walking trails in our town.”

But with running a municipality after the economic freefall that began in 2008, challenges are always present, said the mayor.

“We are still trying to work on filling our vacant businesses on 111h and Roberts Road,” said Bennett. “The beautification project will help. It’s tough because we are pretty much a bedroom community.”

In terms of the budget deadlock in Springfield, Bennett has seen enough false starts throughout this year that he is not optimistic.

“We keep hearing things and it is just up and down,” said Bennett. “This week is really the breaking point. They are really under the gun to get something done. But what could happen is that schools won’t start on time. So, we are just waiting.”