By Joe Boyle
Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett has often credited Police Chief Paul Madigan and his department for continually having the city ranked in the top 10 for low crime figures in the state.
Now there will be changing of the guard for Palos Hills as Madigan plans to retire at the end of the month.
"I have some bittersweet news tonight," said Bennett during the city council meeting last Thursday night. "Paul Madigan is going to retire. I remember when he started as part-time and worked his way up from sergeant to lieutenant. It's a legacy that he has made here. Your (Madigan) contribution to this city when I came on (as mayor) is appreciated during what was a very turbulent time."
Bennett is currently interviewing two Palos Hills deputy chiefs to fill the position and said he plans to make a recommendation this week. The mayor would prefer to fill Madigan's vacancy with a local police official.
The mayor said more information about Madigan's upcoming retirement will be provided at the next city council meeting. Madigan had no formal comment about his retirement at last Thursday's meeting. He plans to retire on Oct. 31, which he said was the day he started on the force back in the early 1970s.
The other major announcement at last Thursday's meeting is that trick-or-treaters will be allowed to visit homes on Halloween, which takes place on a Saturday this year. Ald. Dawn Nowak (5th), who is the head of the planning and zoning commission, provided information at the meeting and said modifications will take place due to COVID-19.
Nowak said that two signs will be available for residents to put outside their homes. One will indicate that they will not be participating in Halloween this year, while the other will have a "Go" sign indicating that they will welcome trick-or-treaters. The signs will be displayed on the front door or window. The signs can be picked up at the Community Center, 8455 W. 103rd St., or City Hall, 10355 S. Roberts Road. The signs will also be available on the Palos Hills city website at www.paloshillsweb.org.
Bennett said homeowners who are welcoming trick-or-treaters should leave their porch lights on. If residents do not want to participate, they should keep their porch lights off and keep their doors closed, he said.
Trick-or treat hours will be from 3 to 7 p.m.
"We are going to encourage residents to wear masks and practice social distancing," Nowak said.
Nowak also mentioned that the city's Resource and Recreation Department is hosting a jack-o-lantern decorating contest. In order to participate, residents should send a picture of themselves with their decorated pumpkins to firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos will be accepted until Oct. 24.
Voting will take place on the Palos Hills Community Resource and Recreation Facebook page until Oct. 31. More information can be obtained by calling (708) 430-4500. The winner will receive a gift certificate.
In other news, some residents who live near where a Thorntons gas station is being built at the northwest corner of 111th and Roberts Road have complained that their AT&T lines have been cut, allegedly by the crew working on the site. Some homeowners also said that their AT&T lines were cut once before back in July.
"I wish they would have called us when it happened in July," Bennett said. "We would have gotten on them right away."
The mayor said that the city would look into the problem.
Nowak questioned why a homeowner living within the city boundaries is allowed to use stones to fill in around the backyard. She said complaints have been raised by neighbors of why the homeowner is allowed to do this.
Bennett said that he has looked into similar situations in the past and it has been thrown out of court. The ruling is based on the fact that the homeowner has not broken any laws. Homeowners cannot be prevented from landscaping their residences the way they choose, Bennett said.
"Unless these rocks are obstructing something, I'm not sure what can be done," Bennett said. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
City Attorney George Pappas said demolition proceedings on a home on the 9700 block of Meryton Court will take place soon.
Bennett said that an official dedication for Bennett Park at 108th and Roberts Road will most likely not take place until spring.