By Joe Boyle
Many restaurant owners in Palos Hills and adjacent communities are voicing their concerns that the latest state mitigations that prevent indoor dining could result in a death sentence.
Ald. Donna O'Connell (5th) brought the issue up at the Palos Hills City Council meeting last Thursday night, stating that some owners of local eateries and bars believe they may have a difficult time staying open if they cannot serve customers inside as winter nears.
"Local businesses are struggling with the second shutdown," said O'Connell, who is the head of the economic development committee. "I'm hearing from a lot of them right now. I'm just asking the other aldermen if they have any suggestions?"
O'Connell then referred to a front-page story that appeared in The Reporter on Nov. 5 about how some restaurant owners have decided to defy orders by Gov. J.B. Pritzker and will continue to serve customers indoors. Employers stated in the article that they need to continue serving indoors to pay workers and remain in business.
Some of the restaurants defying the orders are located in Chicago Ridge, Hickory Hills and Oak Lawn.
Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett was sympathetic to the plight of restaurant and bar owners. However, he mentioned that there is another side to this predicament.
"We are also getting calls from residents who are complaining about how people are not wearing masks when they go into some businesses and restaurants," Bennett said. "We have had to go in there to tell them."
Ald. A.J. Pasek (3rd) wondered if these local businesses should be allowed to receive discounts while in the midst of the pandemic. Bennett reminded the board that that during the first shutdown that local establishments did not have to pay fees to the city.
"But they have opened in June after that and just recently closed (indoors)," Bennett said. "But I get it. We should look into it."
Coronavirus positivity rates have risen considerably in the last month in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. However, many bar and restaurant owners insist that the majority of the spread derives from larger gatherings at homes.
Currently, 10 of the 11 regions are under Tier 1 mitigations, which include the closing of bars and restaurants to indoor service and limiting the size of public gatherings to 25 or fewer.
“ The virus is winning the war right now,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago on Monday.
Bennett reiterated that they will look at all options depending on the length of current state mitigations.
Road repairs along Roberts Road continue. However, repairs on curbs will most likely be delayed until the spring, according to Nick Oeffling, director of the city's Public Works Department.
"They are having some contract issues and COVID issues," Oeffling said. "It has put them behind."
Ald. Pauline Stratton (2nd) inquired if the road lane stripes are going to be put back in before the advent of winter.
Oeffling stated that the lanes would be put back in before it gets cold. He added that curbs would also be put back up and will be worked on next spring.
City Attorney George Pappas was not present for the meeting but Bennett mentioned that the onetime residence on the 10500 block of 82nd Court has been finally demolished.
Due to COVID-19, no formal Veterans Day ceremony was held. However, wreaths were laid at the memorial monument in Town Square Park.
Ald. Mark Brachman (2nd) said that the owner of a home where a hazardous tree was located along the 7800 block of West 99th Place has decided to have it removed and will pay for it to be done. The owner originally refused to have the tree removed. Nearby residents were complaining that the tree had become a hazard and feared it could fall and cause serious damage.
Brachman added that he enjoys going to Gerald R. Bennett Park at 108th and Roberts Road and is pleased with the added amenities. Bennett said that more improvements will be made over the winter including adding fencing.
Ald. Martin Kleefisch (1st) also thanked Paul Madigan, who retired as police chief on Oct. 31. He applauded Bennett for having the foresight to hire Madigan and thanked the retired chief for reorganizing the department.
"He (Madigan) brought in some incredibly talented people, like Jeff Cucio (the new police chief) to take over the ranks," Kleefisch said.
O'Connell also mentioned that Le Crepe Caffeccino, 10406 S. Harlem Ave., has completed their business license paperwork, turned in all supporting documents, and has been granted a business license.
The menu offers crepes, gelato, ice cream and coffee, O'Connell said. They are open from 10 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. Le Crepe Caffeccino is located in the Domino's shopping center.