By Anthony Caciopo
Regional News Editor
The redevelopment of Palmer Park in Palos Heights will continue to move forward thanks to a $400,000 grant the city has received from the State of Illinois.
The funds, which will be matched in the same amount by the City, comes from an Illinois Department of Natural Resources Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Grant.
Mayor Bob Straz announced the awarding of the grant at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
“We held some public meetings on the site that were very well-attended,” he said. “We’ve had meetings with the staff, the design company and the residents of the area as far as what to do.”
Using a diagram labeled Master Plan, the mayor pointed out the areas of the park that will see improvements.
“We’re redoing the parking lot, putting in some new signage, the playground will be reworked, we’ll have a practice field for soccer, redo the baseball field in the corner and have a walking path that will go all around the park itself,” Straz said.
Palmer Park is bordered by 73rd Avenue and 73rd Court, 123rd Street and 124th Street.
“We will have to match that $400,000, which we should be able to do through the capital budget,” the mayor said. “It’s great we have the ability to do that, and to take advantage of grants. We’ve used a number of these grants over the years; two of them for the pool and others for parks restoration.”Timeline for the availability of the matching funds from the budget might be at the end of the summer, Straz said.
Some improvements at Palmer Park have already taken place—“on the City’s dime,” the mayor told The Regional—and one of those improvements was made to accommodate pickleball, a sport booming locally and nationally in popularity.
Pickleball is a paddle-and-ball game played over a net on a space about the size of a badminton court. The matches are singles or doubles and the indoor courts are typically packed at the Recreation Center, 6601 W. 127th St.
The sport has become so popular that Joe Smith, the Palos Heights Parks & Recreation facility manager, said last summer “It’s by far our busiest adult activity.”
Construction last year of the pickleball courts at Palmer Park involved conversion of one of the park’s two tennis courts into the pickleball courts and the rehabilitation of the remaining tennis court. The footprints of all the courts had to be moved slightly as part of the re-purposing.
In other news at Tuesday’s meeting, the mayor sought the Council’s vote to appoint Margaret Carey as deputy city clerk. Carey has replaced Pat Shepard, who retired recently from the same post. The Council unanimously approved. Ald. Jeff Key of Ward 1 and Ald. Bob Basso of Ward 2 were not present.
An ordinance will be drafted for the sale, at auction, of a 1997 GMC combination sweeper-vactor vehicle.
Ald. Jerry McGovern of Ward 4 told citizens to beware of one of the newest scams.
“The scams for the IRS has now come to letters,” he said. “We were always worried before that all these scams were coming from emails, from phone calls. They (authorities) always said ‘Don’t worry about it, if you ever get notified by the IRS it’s going to be by mail, and by mail only.’”
“Well, guess what? The new scam is by mail,” McGovern said, who urged local residents to contact the police if they feel they might be victimized.
Other options include contacting your tax preparer, said City Treasurer James Daemicke, or the IRS itself—but only by first independently obtaining a correct contact number and not relying on the number included in the scam letter.
“Don’t use the phone number off the letter,” agreed McGovern. “That’s the number the scammers want you to call to get all your information.”
The non-emergency number for the Palos Heights Police Department is (708) 448-5060.