By Joe Boyle
Sue Lehr, the Hickory Hills public works director, has some advice for residents who want to continue to park their vehicles along side streets this winter.
"Don't do it," she said during a Hickory Hills City Council meeting last Thursday night. "It's just gotten out of hand, especially the past month or so. We have a number of people who are parking on city streets. Coming up with the winter, we don't want to people to get complacent. They have to find permanent parking spots somewhere else."
Hickory Hills has allowed some residents to register for temporary parking during the hours of 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. However, in the opinion of Lehr, allowing residents to park on side streets overnight has become a problem because too many individuals have abused the privilege.
Police Chief Charles Hobart said during the meeting that changes could take place if the council members are in agreement in terms of the amount of days some residents would be allowed temporary parking. Hobart admitted that due to the pandemic, the city has been been more lenient with the residents in regards to parking.
"I can go through the wards and I can see this is an issue," Lehr said. "Now, again, some of them may be legally parked, but not everyone. We have to see how far this can go."
Lehr stated that 30 to as many 50 cars have been parking along side streets during the year overnight
Ald. Deborah Ferrero (2nd) wondered if the city could arrange for where the residents could only be allowed temporary overnight parking a few times during the year.
Hobart added that if the council agrees a limit for the amount of time residents would be allowed overnight parking, a set number could be arranged. Lehr would prefer no overnight parking but would like to see some uniformity on the issue.
Mayor Mike Howley asked council members what they would consider an appropriate amount of times allowed for overnight parking. The council members agreed that four times would be the monthly limit.
Hobart said the change would occur Tuesday, Dec. 1, which coincides with Chicago's rule on parking along streets when the snow falls. The restrictions would go through March.
"If it's going to snow, they should park in their driveways," Ferrero added.
And that is fine with Lehr since her trucks are out plowing during the winter especially when they have two and half inches of snow.
Howley reminded the board that currently restaurants cannot serve indoors after the recent state mandates made by Gov. J.B. Pritzker due to rising positivity rates over the past month for COVID-19.
"Our restaurants and bars are aware that if they serve indoors they would be in violation of state mandates," Howley said. "We want to support our bars and restaurants."
Ferrero asked if all the owners of the bars and restaurants are aware of the recent mandates. Howley assured her that they are indeed aware.
Some of the local restaurant owners are trying to come up with measures that will allow them to serve customers in outside tents as winter approaches.
John Moirano, the city's building commissioner, said that the owner of Denny's wants to put up a tent outside the restaurant at 7627 W. 95th St. However, Moirano pointed out that the restaurant owners will not be able to use propane tanks, which is illegal and could be dangerous.
"They can use electric heaters," Moirano added.
Howley pointed out that due to the rising COVID-19 cases that the City Hall, 8652 W. 95th St., will be closed to the public during the holiday season. Ald. Scott Zimmerman (4th) did note that if residents had specific business that needed to be tended to they could call City Hall, (708) 598-4800. Information will also be available at the website, www.hickoryhillsil.org.
Howley also wanted to thank Ald. Mike McHugh (D-1st), who was not able to attend last Thursday's meeting, for assisting in arranging that gift cards were sent to local seniors from Les Brothers and Prime Time restaurants. Many of the seniors began to start receiving the gift cards this past week.
"We could not have the annual Thanksgiving meals for seniors because of COVID as they were accustomed to in the past," Howley said. "But this was the next best thing and I thank Mike for all his help on this."
The board approved the appointment of John Hovey as an auxiliary officer for the police department. Hobart mentioned that Hovey worked in law enforcement when he lived in Texas.
"He is a real easy going guy who has volunteered to help," Hobart said.
Tree Lighting Ceremony
The City of Hickory Hills is making some adjustments due to the pandemic and will hold it 2020 Drive-In Tree Lighting Ceremony beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1 at City Hall.
Pre-registration is required and can be arranged by calling City Hall. Those who attend will be asked to practice social distancing. This is a drive-in only event. No one will be allowed to exit their vehicles. The event is free but there are just a number of limited spots.
When calling to register, residents will be asked to provide a name, phone number, address and how many expected youngsters they will have in their vehicles.
Ferrero said to enjoy the festivities and to "watch out for a special guest."
In other news, the board approved Tax Avenue, 9630 S. Roberts Road, to do business in the city. The new business will assist trucking companies with tax and immigration paperwork.
The board also approved Bledsoe Handyman and Construction, 9525 S. 79th Ave., to operate in Hickory Hills. A decision had been delayed on the business until certain codes were up to date.
No Hickory Hills City Council meeting will take place on Thursday, Nov. 26 because of Thanksgiving. Due to the recent COVID-19 spike, the December meeting will be held online.