Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett has made no secret of his support for the city’s police department.
“Quite honestly since the time I became mayor (35 years ago) I’ve been proud of our department,” Bennett said last week. “Our crime stats have always been low, and the crimes that are out there our detectives solve them.”
So Bennett was rather pleased on March 17 to share with the city council that Palos Hills was ranked 17th on BackgroundChecks.org’s list of the 50 safest cities in Illinois.
The rankings, which were released on the website earlier this month, are based on FBI violent crime stats and propriety BackgroundChecks.org research data.
This is the second time in less than six months a website has recognized Palos Hills as a “safe city.” In November, Safewise.com listed Palos Hills as the 47th safest city in the Prairie State.
“We continue to receive those recognitions, which we are very proud of,” Bennett said. “We thank our citizens for helping us (be a safe place to live). We don’t have a neighborhood watch but the citizens of this town do a very good job of keeping us informed and being an extra eye on the streets.”
Western Springs topped the BackgroundChecks.org list and nearby Orland Park ranked 13th. Worth and Palos Heights were ranked No. 27 and No. 28, respectively.
For the Palos Hills entry, the website wrote “A southwest Chicago suburb, Palos Hills is located in Cook County and is home to 17,400 residents. The city covers just 4.29 square miles and is served by the North Palos School District. The violent crime rate here is 34.2, and residents have just a .07 perfect chance of being affected by property crime.”
While there is no official award or certificate the city receives from BackgroundChecks.org, Bennett said there is a “web badge” – essentially a small graphic stating the honor – Palos Hills can display on its website, www.paloshillsweb.org.
“Our police do a great job,” Ald. Pauline Stratton (2nd Ward) said. “Even though we are short-handed with the police department they really are good with working to help the people out, and our residents are very aware of what is going on in their city too.
“This honor is absolutely something our city can be proud of.”
In other news, Palos Hills officials unanimously approved an ordinance setting the guidelines for the placement, use and maintenance of rain barrels in the city.
The ordinance was necessitated due to an intergovernmental agreement the city authorized with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District this past September that allows residents to receive rain barrels at no cost from the MWRD.
Prior to the ordinance, the city had no restrictions on the number, color or placement of rain barrels on one’s property. The ordinance allows a single family residence to have one black or white rain barrel located at the rear of the residence to limit its visibility from the sidewalk or street, said Ald. Mark Brachman (2nd Ward).
The rain barrel must also be “maintained and serviced frequently by the resident so that it functions properly as intended,” Brachman noted.
The ordinance prohibits water collected in a rain barrel from being deposited in the public sanitary sewer drainage system, Brachman said.
In an effort to reduce basement backups, sewer overflow and flooding, the MWRD began offering the free rain barrel program in 2014. Municipalities needed only to opt in by signing an intergovernmental agreement with the MWRD.
The barrels are designed to capture rain water from a downspout with the intention of the homeowner then using the water during dry months or for uses like watering plants or washing vehicles.
In order to receive a rain barrel a resident must fill out an application at City Hall, 10335 S. Roberts Road. A Palos Hills staff member will then notify the MWRD that a resident has requested a barrel, and the MWRD will then deliver the barrel to the resident’s home.