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Palos Heights Mayor Reflects on Economic Growth in State of the City Address

Mayor Robert Straz recounted the new businesses and economic expansion that has come to Palos Heights over the last year.

With several large-scale construction projects currently underway, Palos Heights Mayor Robert Straz used his State of the City address to detail economic development over the past year. 

Speaking at a Palos Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Straz highlighted the Jewel Osco expansion project and Palos Community Hospital remodeling project as signs of economic growth in Palos Heights. 

"With people like yourselves and the great volunteers I think we have a great future," Straz concluded. 

The mayor stressed that the city's ability to maintain a budget surplus every year since 2002 has made numerous projects possible. The city was also able to use that surplus to pay off all municipal debts, Straz said. 

The fact that Palos Heights has funds available allows the city to apply for grants that pay large portions of a project, while requiring the municipality to kick in a percentage. Because that match can be guaranteed, the city has been awarded grants for numerous projects over the last year, Straz said. 

Here is a look at some of highlights of the speech:

Economic Development

  • 15 new businesses opened in 2011. 
  • 4 new businesses have opened in the first part of 2012
  • The new Jewel Osco is expected to open in July, with a grand opening in September.
  • The larger Jewel means 40 new jobs, for which Palos Heights residents will be given preference.
  • A new traffic light will be installed at 128th Street and Harlem Avenue as part of the project. 
  • Wendy's will occupy one of the outlots in the new Jewel development.
  • McDonald's will be tearing down its old buliding and replacing it with a moder double drive-thru structure. 

Infrastructure

  • Streetlights will be replaced along Harlem Avenue from Route 83 to 128th Street in the coming year.
  • The stamped asphalt along Harlem Avenue in the Olde Palos shopping district will be replaced with paver bricks and new landscaping. 
  • Since 2001 27 of the city's 55 miles of roads have been resurfaced at the cost of $4.6 million.
  • City Hall's HVAC system was replaced with the assistance of a grant. 

Recreation

  • Recreation programs drew 7,666 participants. 
  • After years of losing money, the Palos Heights Pool
  • A new picnic shelter will be built at Community Park in the spring.
  • Electronic waste recycling was introduced at Lake Katherine and in the past few months over 9,000 pounds of waste has been recycled.
  • The Cal-Sag Bike Trail is moving forward and will offer a connection to Lake Katherine and forest preserve paths. 

Police

  • The Palos Heights Police Department responded to 9,117 calls in 2011.
  • Detectives investigated 127 cases, of which 102 were solved. 
  • 5 new officers were added, with a net staff gain of zero. 
  • A new bike patrol and all terrain vehicle were added.
  • Officers completed 2,900 hours of in-service training. 

Mayor Straz's State of the City address will be broadcast on PHTV Channel 4 in full. 

Keep up with all Palos Heights news by signing up for our free e-mail newsletter. 

mom February 17, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I would not call a new Jewel Food Store Economic growth. Who's growing? JEWEL!!I liked the old Jewel I wont even go to Dominicks, it is just too big . We might have a little more surpluss if we were not paying for a library we did not need in the first place. HAVE YOU SEEN THE PALOS FIRE DEPT KITCHEN??? Now that is a reno that would have been helpful!! And lets face it what is it the city workers do when I see them driving around and around and around the neighborhood doing what? The snow plowing when there is an 1/8 off inch of snow is another one of the City's over kills on services. The riding around with the plows on the front of the city trucks for weeks when there is no snow in sight. That is so much wear and tear on a pick up's front end! The taxes I pay have gotten so rediculous I feel I can not afford to stay here anymore. I can do without some of the extras the City is providing needlessly. I would rather to be able to aford the real estate taxes to live here. Enough!! Lets get back to the basics!!
JustMe May 05, 2012 at 03:47 AM
I am grateful for the many improvements in Palos Heights and feel that it is living in Cook County that has impacted property taxes more than anything else. And yes , it is very difficult to keep up with when personal income is not keeping up with increased costs such as WATER! Thanks Rahm! We have noticed a major decline in many problems along the path and at the parks due to the increased bike and all terrain patrol. Businesses are closing in part because the residents do not shop Palos stores like they did in the past. We go to Walmart, Target, etc. We do have these stores to generate sales tax. This only touches the surface, nothing is that simple. I am glad there is grant money and a surplus. Could we get a break on vehicle stickers then? Just a thought. Overall though, but to improve than stagnate.
JustMe May 05, 2012 at 03:54 AM
Oops! ...better to improve than stagnate.

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