Justice Economic Development

Staff Report

 

Much talk has been made of Justice village improvement.  Concurrently with a changed political scene, every election year brings more discussions and opinions.  People want growth.  People want their community to be successful.  People want to live in successful areas.  Service providers want to meet the demand.  When everyone feels good about their community, civic pride rises. People want the men and woman they send to office to work on the issues.

 

What about building up the community?  Some areas still flood.  Local schools are good.  Elected officials have made peace with each other and civility is back in the board room.  Now comes the Lakota Group and the Justice Planning Commission.

 

Justice Planning Commission  members include representatives from the major cemetery properties  — Resurrection and Bethania — Chief Trailer Park, the Justice Zoning and Planning Board, and village of Justice contracted economic development consultant the Lakota Group.  Concurrently, Henry Oszakiewski has been leading economic discussions at the Village of Justice Zoning Board meetings.  Henry will mark 20 years of service on the Justice Zoning and Planning Board spanning terms of 4 different mayors in 2013.  He is seeking office as a Justice trustee come this April.

 

Feel free to read the efforts here as reported.  In September, 2011 and January, 2012, town hall style meetings were noticed and held by the Lakota Group as informal workshops.  Notice was given out by way of the village web site, village newsletter and robocall invitations.  At the September, 2011 workshop, maps of the village and surrounding corridors were displayed.  Relevant census and demographic data were explained to those who showed interest by coming out.  It did not go unnoticed that no one from the Peoples Voice Party bothered to attend.  Pictures of various communities and comparisons to Justice were studied.  Residents were encouraged to speak out with their ideas and give comments.  The Lakota consultants took a survey of opinions from those at the meeting then spoke of the processes they use.  Experts from the group explained how consultants like Lakota could be tapped to help attract commercial interest and form a blueprint to guide future development.  In January, 2012, Lakota talked in more detail of the type of retail establishments a village like Justice could likely support. They were

listed as specialty goods, restaurant, resale and collectible types of business.  Given the importance of the two meetings resident attendance was remarkably low.

 

On March 28, 2012, a full meeting with the entire Justice Planning Commission was held and resident attendance was about the same.  Lakota discussed infrastructure grants available to villages like Justice for things such as streetscape improvements.  Many new ideas and options were discussed.  One of them a pronouncement:  the Village of Bedford Park is seeking to create an enterprise zone with the Village of Justice at their combined properties along the Desplaines River.  No details were available at the break of this news.  This information has since been confirmed by the Village of Justice  Board and Bedford Park trustees.  Lakota partner  Kevin Clark sat with the board and listened intently, taking many notes.  A sobering fact brought out was how far behind Justice has fallen in relation to its neighbors in sales tax collection.  The findings compared the sales tax revenue Justice collects each year.  A comparison to local communities showed Justice collectes $300,000/year vs. Hickory Hills’ $1.6 million/year, Village of Lyons’ $1.0 million/year, near by Summit’ 1.0 million/year, Countryside’ $5 million/year and Hodgkins’ $4.5 million/year.  Only Willow Springs at $184 ,000/year faired poorer. We need economic development to grow and prosper.

 

In addition to the Lakota discussions, from a zoning and planning perspective, Oszakiewski has started specific surveys of the village.  Along with other Village of Justice Zoning  and Planning Board members, they have outlined properties and areas of the village for future use and have  logged them in to set priorities and to track progress.  During these Zoning and Planning Commission  monthly meetings, outlines are distributed and each property is talked about as residents collaberate.  Discussion meetings of the planning group are regular and have been ongoing since the Justice Village Board began them in May of this year, opening them up after a previous board had cut their meetings.

 

The next scheduled meeting of the Justice Planning Commission will be Monday, December 17, 2012 at 7PM in the village board room.  The public is invited to come.  The Lakota Group will make a presentation during this meeting.  Residents are encouraged to attend.

 

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