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  • Megann Horstead

Officials hope Route 30, I-80 beautification makes NL more inviting


The New Lenox Village Board of Trustees reviewed a proposal presented by Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. for professional design services for the landscaping of the Route 30 median between Nelson and Gougar roads.

“Many years ago, the board did [a] beautification study on Route 30,” Mayor Tim Baldermann said. “We obviously—as a Board and as a staff—work very hard to try and develop or redevelop the entire community. The west end of town, for a number of reasons, does not see as much development as we see on the east end of town. We think that one of the things we can do to help that along is kind of clean up that area.”

The mayor and Village staff has met with the Illinois Department of Transportation regarding a number of issues, with one being a potential clean up to the median.

“The medians are broken, and there’s weeds everywhere,” Baldermann said. “It just really looks horrible. [IDOT] understood our desire to try and clean that up.”

IDOT has been in talks to re-do the interchange at Route 30 and Interstate-80 for a number of years. Baldermann said he is not confident when those improvements will begin.

The Village approached IDOT with its beautification plan, and they came to an understanding that if improvements to the interchange were to take place, the beautifications applied to the Route 30 median between Nelson and Gougar roads in New Lenox would need to be replaced.

“IDOT has been great in working with us on a number of projects, which is a good thing, but they are short-staffed up there, so getting turnaround on some of these is difficult,” Baldermann said.

Baldermann said he really wanted the Board to push the project forward to promote a good first impression for the Village of New Lenox.

“I think it can make a tremendous amount of difference when you come off I-80, and you see all that cleaned up,” he said.

The project as approved entails efforts to incorporate some plantings and sod. Plans for beautification conform to the Village’s strategic plan.

In a unanimous decision, the board approved a professional engineering services agreement in the amount of $16,963 to Christopher B. Burke Engineering.

The clean up is anticipated to begin as early as Spring 2018.

Also at the meeting, trustees reviewed Providence Catholic High School’s revised site plan for its building addition.

The 21,300-square-foot project will include a cafeteria and student commons addition near the southwest corner of the building.

“It’s not [adding] any additional classroom, so it’s not being done in anticipation of a larger student body,” said Robin Ellis, assistant village administrator. “In conjunction with this, they are reconfiguring some of the parking spaces in the rear.”

Providence officials have worked with the Village to address some issues. During a recent site visit, staff noted an unauthorized storage trailer on the property.

“We’re working with them to bring that into conformance,” Ellis said. “That will come back to [the Village Board] as a temporary use at a future meeting.”

Village staff recommends that trustees approve the revised site plan.

In a 7-0 vote, the board decided to pass a measure to advance Providence’s project.

Baldermann comments on White House response to anthem protests

Mayor Tim Baldermann took a moment to address the controversial national discussion taking shape between President Donald Trump and his comments and the players in the NFL and NBA as it comes to protests of taking a knee or staying in the locker room when the national anthem is played.

“I’ll speak for myself, and say that first of all, I’m an absolute supporter of the constitution and of people’s constitutional rights to free speech,” Baldermann said. “Any player who chooses to not participate in the national anthem certainly has the right per the constitution.”

Baldermann stressed that there is a time and place for peaceful protests and said he finds the demonstrations to be “highly offensive.”

“It’s not a racial issue for me, it’s a patriotic issue for me,” he said. “This is about—in my opinion—disrespecting our flag and disrespecting our country and those who serve.”

Discussions of peaceful protesting by athletes first took shape last season when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat and later took a knee when the national anthem was played. The act was intended to bring awareness to the issue of police brutality. Since that time, a number of NFL teams have taken to the field to hold demonstrations in the wake of Trump’s comments calling into question patriotism and respect for the military.

The same effect holds true for NBA players who have taken to Twitter to express their hesitancy to meet with Trump in considering the message he has conveyed during his presidency and campaign.

“I will tell you that I do sometimes find the remarks that the president has made as being inflammatory and incendiary and divisive,” Baldermann said. “He’s not the first president to do that, he’s just maybe is the first president that isn’t as polished, or tactful, as leaders before him. I don’t necessarily agree with any of the comments that the president has made with some of these issues.”

Baldermann acknowledged there are “great divides” in this nation that need to be addressed and said he cannot support the president when he says there are good people who belong to the Neo-Nazi Party.

“To me, we all need to take a deep break, I think, and take a step back, and realize that we live in a good country, that people should be able to express their freedom of religion, their political persuasion, their sexual orientation, that the government is too far reaching on some of these matters, and that although we’re entitled to our opinions, we are at each other’s throats,” Baldermann said. “We are two things: we’re human beings, and we’re all Americans. We should be standing up for each other, defending each other, and not be fighting against each other.”

Round it up

A brief recap of action and discussion from the Sept. 25 regular meeting of the New Lenox Village Board of Trustees:

  • Officials agreed to work with Testing Service Corporation to retain geotechnical services for the potential development slated for the northwest corner of the intersection joining Route 30 and Vancina Lane. The Village will budget $5,400 to satisfy this aim.

  • Trustees waived a measure requiring Silver Cross Hospital to complete exterior work prior to retaining an occupancy permit. The Village still has a surety in place to ensure that improvements are made.

  • The Village opted into a lease purchase contract with BMO Harris Equipment Finance to pay for three 2018 Peterbilt Model 348 Chassis trucks, which are equipped for snow removal and plowing. The 3-year agreement calls for a quarterly payment in the amount of $45,190.20 at a 2.17-percent interest rate.

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