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The Rundown: Oak Lawn Village Board Discusses Ruse Burglaries, Master Water Plan and Parking at Oak Lawn Town Center

Highlights of the April 12 Oak Lawn Village Board meeting.

The Oak Lawn Village Board started off its agenda Tuesday with a passel of well-deserved recognitions: for Oak Lawn Police Sgt. James Pacetti’s promotion, for Eagle Scout Luke Slowinski, for Oak Lawn Green Team T-shirt design winners Aiste Leskausak and Evan Martinez, and for the Oak Lawn Community High School Drama Team IHSA state champions.

Following are highlights from the rest of the meeting:

Ruse Burglaries

Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd District) said are on the rise in Oak Lawn. Con artists, often posing as utility workers or landscapers, gain entry into elderly victims’ homes and steal money and jewelry.

“Week in and week out there scams going on in the village,” Olejniczak said. “I know there are seniors who don’t read email or watch the village board meetings (on Ch. 4). Seniors are very vulnerable, and I’m asking everyone to make a commitment to talk to seniors.”

Olejniczak wants residents to talk to elderly neighbors and family members, and tell them not to open the door to strangers or let them into their homes. Teams of scam artists are using disguises to gain the confidence of seniors.

“They’re very convincing and seem very nice,” Olejniczak said. “They use disguises, saying they work for the village or ComEd or Nicor. Do not believe it. If you’re a senior, don’t open your door.”

Seniors should be told to call 911 if suspicious persons come to their doors and try to get a vehicle description and take note of the direction the vehicle travels if those persons leave while police are on their way.

Master Water Plan 2030

The village is one step closer to implementing its 2030 Master Water Plan. Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen asked village board members to approve the engagement of BMO Captial Markets GKST Inc. and Chapman Cutler LLP to act as senior underwriter and bond counsel, respectively.

Both will serve on a team to prepare for the sale of one or more bond series to finance various projects to upgrade and refurbish Oak Lawn’s water distribution system that sells Lake Michigan water to a dozen Southland communities. System upgrades will also prepare for future prospective water customers in Will County.

One of the projects includes a redundant water line that follows Southwest Highway to LaGrange Road, and south to Orland Park.

Deetjen said that BMO and Chapman Cutler have extensive knowledge of utility bonds.

“It’s important that the message our team conveys to our (water) customers shows knowledge of utility bond issues,” Deetjen said.

The village also is preparing a complex master water contract that will be offered to all municipal water customers. Water contracts with New Lenox, Orland Park, Mokena, Oak Forest and Tinley Park are set to expire in October 2011.

Instead of Oak Lawn having numerous water contracts, municipalities would now get the same master contract, including rate increases to help foot startup costs of the $193 million renovation.

Deetjen said the village would not market the bonds until the contracts are in place. The bond team will not be paid until bonds are successfully marketed and sold, and the village would not incur any cash flow.

Parking at Oak Lawn Town Center

Trustee Carol Quinlan (5th District) told village board members that one of her constituents called her to complain that she could not find a place to park at the Oak Lawn Town Center, at 95th Street and 52nd Avenue by Starbucks and the new Qdoba Mexican Grill.

“It’s very frustrating,” Quinlan said. “The concern is that the strip mall is going well … we want to encourage new business in Oak Lawn, but businesses will leave if their customers can’t find parking.”

Quinlan asked that the board consider opening the ground-level floor of the Metra parking garage to allow shoppers at the strip mall two hours of free parking.

Village board members also discussed other parking options, such as opening the commuter parking lot west of 52nd Avenue for two-hour business parking.

“I’m already starting to get complaints about not enough parking,” Quinlan said. “I’m just trying to open dialogue.”

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