By Joe Boyle
Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett has not had a lot to cheer about as the pandemic extends into the fall months.
However, he did learn recently about something positive despite the presence of COVID-19.
"We have received some good news." Bennett said during the Palos Hills City Council meeting last Thursday night. "The federal government, which is in charge of the CARES Act, is going to give us all the money we requested for COVID-19 expenses."
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27 by President Trump to combat the impacts of COVID-19.
The state of Illinois is currently distributing $250 million in federal funds to assist cities, counties and municipalities of local government to pay for expenses due to COVID-19. From that amount, $200 million will go directly to municipalities and counties.
Bennett is pleased that Palos Hills will receive the entire amount that was requested — $456,000 — to provide for COVID-19-related expenses. The funds will go for public safety and health concerns.
City Attorney George Pappas said a judge wants to review the information regarding plans to demolish Meryton Court. Pappas said that he should have an update for the next city council meeting.
Ald. Joe Marrotta (4th) brought up the current status of a home on 102nd Street that he emphasized is a continuing eyesore to the community. He asked Building Commissioner Paul Hardison if anything is going to be done about the structure. Marrotta would like to see the residence leveled.
However, the home still remains despite repeated warnings to the owner to clean up the property.
"He has been getting a lot of tickets," Hardison informed Marrotta. "Right now a pile of gravel in the front of the driveway is the only thing left."
Hardison also mentioned that the owner operates three properties in the city and similar measures of each location would have to be taken up separately, Pappas said.
"I don't want to waste a lot of money for court cases on this," Marrotta said. "I just want to know if there is something we can do?"
Pappas said that he has sent the owner a letter previously but added that he will send another one out.
Marrotta did mention that the Palos Hills Municipal Golf Course is is fine shape despite a drought in August followed by some recent heavy rains.
"The pro shop is doing a good job day in and day out," Marrotta said. "Pat Frazier (superintendent for the Palos Hills Golf Course) has kept the course in good shape. The sprinklers have been replaced."
During the public forum segment, Claudia Pasek, the wife of Ald. A.J. Pasek (3rd), complained she was not informed just after a shooting incident in the city that took place near her home last month. A Palos Hills man allegedly shot a Tinley Park man following a dispute over a backpack that was left at the home. The alderman also had complained about not learning about the incident after it happened at the previous board meeting.
Ald. Martin Kleefisch (1st) said that presentation of the Beautification Contest awards that took place outside on a Saturday worked out well and wondered if this could take place again under this format next year. Kristin Violante, the commissioner of the city's resources and recreation department, said that over 50 people attended the event.
Bennett concurred with Kleefisch that the ceremony was a success and perhaps the ceremony should be held the same way next year.
The board also gave its approval on a 10-year lease for Comcast to continue to provide cable services for the city retroactive to Sept. 17, 2020.
Ald. Pauline Stratton (2nd) did not have a report for the parks at the last meeting but did mention at the previous session that yoga for adults will be provided for seniors at the Community Center. More information can be obtained by calling (708) 430-4500.
Stratton also mentioned that pollinator signs have been installed throughout Bennett Park. Each sign provides information about a specific perennial and those pollinators that are attracted to it. While some of the pollinators have not survived due to a lack of rain this summer, additional perennials will be installed next spring.
Ald. Dawn Nowak (5th) wondered if trick-or-treating will be allowed in the city this year due to COVID-19. Bennett said he was not sure.
"We are kind of on hold," the mayor said. "We are waiting to see what the state will or won't do. I will give it a couple of weeks and we will see what happens."