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                                                                                                                            Photo by Joe Boyle
Road repairs are currently taking place along Roberts Road in Palos Hills. Vehicles can be seen above near 111th and Roberts Road. The project is supposed to be completed in November.
By Joe Boyle
Funds will be provided by the state for local governments to receive pandemic relief, but Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett was looking for a little bit more.
Bennett brought up the issue during the Palos Hills City Council meeting last Thursday night. The allocation of $450,000 has to be used for COVID-19-related expenses, the mayor said.
"We were hopeful that it would be allowed for people who, for instance, had to stay home at the beginning of the pandemic," Bennett said. "The (fund) does not provide for lost revenue, but only for public safety and health regarding COVID."
Bennett said funds distributed to neighboring municipalities are similar. Orland Park will receive $500,000 based on the amount of businesses they have, Bennett said.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) 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.
"The funds will go directly for public safety and health," Bennett said. "We were hoping that it would also go for public works projects effected by COVID but that is not the case."
Money that does not go the city will go to the county. The mayor said Cook County has large expenses, such as the hospital and jails.
During the public forum session of the committee of the whole meeting, resident Denise Lipinski asked the board when the community center will reopen. The mayor said that it is scheduled to open in September. However, he reminded everyone that they cannot let their guard down while the pandemic persists.
"We have seen a 35-percent increase in COVID cases in Palos Hills," Bennett said. "Hopefully, we can get that under control. We need to be careful."
Video gaming was reinstated last month in Palos Hills.
"It was the highest number of people playing we ever had," Bennett said. "I guess people were eager to get back."
Construction along Roberts Road has begun. Work had begun as far north as 87th Street in Hickory Hills and is continuing as far south as 111th Street where a Thorntons service station is being built at the northeast corner in Palos Hills.
Traffic has been reduced to one lane along the north and south sides of Roberts Road. The repairs will improve conditions to help curb flooding. The project is expected to be completed in November.
"We can't build a system that will totally prevent flooding," Bennett said. "We have had rainstorms that are suppose to occur every 100 years and are now happening more often. But with the repairs, we believe we can prevent a lot of flooding."
Susan Ross Collins, who is the longtime director of the Palos Hills Horsemen's Association, has asked if the city could keep the area as a horse trail
"We have been taking care of it anyway so it would make sense," Bennett said.
City Attorney George Pappas will be looking into the transition of officially caring for the horse trail. The city's public works department will maintain the area. Collins stated in a Facebook post that she is grateful for the city's support and assisting in the care of the private and public trail system near Kean Avenue that allows members to ride safely from their backyards to the forest preserves.
The board congratulated Pat Frazier on becoming the superintendent of the Palos Hills Municipal Golf Course. He had taken over on a probationary basis but members of the board have been pleased with his efforts.
"He has done a good job," Bennett said. "I have received a lot of positive comments from the aldermen."
Ald. Joe Marrotta (4th) concurred that Frazier deserved to become the full-time superintendent.
"What he has done out there has been amazing," Marrotta said.
Ald. Martin Kleefisch (1st), who is the head of the public safety committee, complimented the police force that he said has been working extremely hard during the pandemic and a Black Lives Matter protest march that occurred this summer in Palos Hills. Kleefisch said that the city received a letter from a resident who said the Palos Hills police did a great job monitoring and maintaining order during the protest march.
Kleefisch also said The Beautifcations Awards that recognize homeowners and some businesses for their upkeep of their properties will take place Sept. 12. The ceremony will most likely take place outside the Resources and Recreation building. But Bennett said that in case of inclement weather, there is more than ample room inside to present the awards with social distancing taking place.
The board also renewed its 10-year contract with Comcast.