By Joe Boyle
Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett said he never saw it coming, but is eternally grateful just the same.
“I was absolutely humbled and shocked that the council decided to rename Pleasure Lake as Gerald R. Bennett Park,” the mayor said during the Palos Hills City Council meeting last Thursday night. “I don’t have the words to express my gratitude. I did not expect this. All the years I have done this I do it because this is my job. But this is very humbling. I cannot thank you enough.”
During an executive session after the March 28 meeting, the board returned less than five minutes later to announce that they want to rename Pleasure Lake Nature Park after the mayor. Ald. Ricky Moore (4th) introduced the idea to the board. He added that the vote was unanimous.
Moore said at the time that Bennett, who was not able to attend the March 28 meeting, should will be honored. Bennett did thank Moore with introducing the idea to the board.
The land at 10801 S. Roberts Road is being rejuvenated with the help of an Open Space Lands Agreement Grant, or OSLAD, that the city was awarded by the Illinois Department of Resources panel. Bennett made the presentation in Springfield. Less than two weeks later the city was scheduled to receive the $126,000 grant to not only refurbish the lake but to go ahead with plans for a park as well.
“You deserve this for all the years of work for the city,” Moore mentioned to Bennett at last week’s meeting.
Bennett said again he was humbled and can’t wait for the park to be developed.
“The citizens of the city will enjoy this park for years and years to come,” Bennett said.
Ald. Martin Kleefisch (1st) said that flash drives that contain updated rules and regulations information by the Palos Hills Police Department have been provided and will be discussed at a later date. Kleefisch also said that two Palos Hills police officers will be honored at an upcoming meeting after assisting the North Palos Fire Protection District. The two officers helped to pull five people from a house fire in the 8800 block of 101st Street in the early morning hours on March 26
Palos Hills police arrived at the scene of the large house fire at 2:02 a.m. Officers helped four people out of the home without incident. A fifth person was inside the basement and police officers pulled the individual to safety through a window well.
Two of the residents were transported to the hospital. One was treated for smoke inhalation and was released on March 26. Two of the police officers on the scene were treated for smoke inhalation and released.
“Because of their bravery, we will be awarding the two officers,” Kleefisch said.
City Attorney George Pappas said a lawsuit against the owner of the Valley Plaza will continue with more information to be available this month. The owner has been criticized for allegedly not keeping up with the cleaning of the property. Critics said the land is in disrepair.
Pappas said the ongoing situation over debris strewn at 7820 W. 102nd St. has finally been rectified. After threats of lawsuits, a series of citations and unreturned phone calls, the owner of the property has indicated that he will build on that location.
“The issue is finally rectified,” Pappas said. “From what I understand he wants to build. But no more litigation.”
Ald. Joe Marrotta (4th), who has complained about the condition of the property the past couple of months, was glad to hear that.
“Thank God,” Marrotta said.
A discussion over the providing new waste containers at several local parks was continued from the previous board meeting. Ald. A.J. Pasek (3rd) wondered if the expense of the new garbage cans was not cost effective.
“We took a survey and people indicated they liked the cans,” replied Kristin Violante, commissioner of the city’s Resources and Recreation Department. “We have worked this in to our budget and we will add six over the next six years, but no more than that.”
Bennett also congratulated incumbent aldermen who were re-elected to another term of office after the April 2 election. Kleefisch, who has served as alderman since 1988, decisively defeated his opponent, Georgia Fiotakis. Aldermen Mike Price (1st), Pauline Stratton (2nd), Michael Lebarre (4th), Marrotta and Dawn Nowak (5th) were unopposed.
Donna O’Connell is the lone newcomer to the board after winning the other vacant 5th Ward seat, defeating Artur Krasowski. The position became vacant after Mary Ann Schultz died last fall.