Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leadership meeting brings together elected officials

Mayor Mike Belsky called a leadership meeting that brought together many newly elected officials along with incumbents and several administrators of our local governments. We talked about the need to work together as a community and region to get the best results for our citizens in Highland Park.

While we have collaborated on many fronts in the past, we need to reduce and combine in an aggressive fashion to meet this new economic challenge that currently faces us.

The group was committed to working together and to reach out to the community to listen to concerns and suggestions of the citizens. It has been several years since the we have had a town hall meeting and we will be looking to formulate this reach-out plan to our individual neighborhoods and community at large.

It has been too long since we have held neighborhood meetings. During the past election and the many coffees that I had attended, it was obvious that citizens had many issues to talk about and were reaching out to their elected officials to be heard.

Moraine Neighborhood requests ACTION!

Moraine North Neighbors are asking for city action on infrastructure improvements. This discussion erupted when a public hearing took place several weeks ago about a housing project on Bloom and Waukegan that provides attainable rental units to residents.

Infrastructure requests from the neighbors include paving a commercially used alley, curbs and storm water street improvements, and snow plowing community street sidewalk routes that lead to the high school and downtown. Other issues brought up were changes in traffic patterns from increased development at Fort Sheridan and congestion on Green Bay Road that could require other regulatory measures.

The staff held a meeting that lasted for 2 1/2 hours Tuesday night and received the requests and concerns from the neighbors. Within 60 days city staff will gather information and present possible solutions.

Stay Tuned!!!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Recycling or Composting

In hearing what is going on in our school lunch rooms and talking about how the kids are served lunches, it seems like a tall mountain to climb to get any real movement on recycling in this setting. Understanding the tons of non-recyclable packaging that goes into the lunch programs that makes its way to the landfill is depressing. Even if we can get recyclable packaging that is recyclable, who is going to clean it?

I think there are two obvious answers here. One is going back to cafeteria style that reuses the plates, cups, and utensils like we did when I was in grammar school or going to compostible packaging along with a legal methodology of dealing with the compost.

If you go to Canada, you see three bins, not two (Garbage, recycle, and compost). When it comes to carry out foods we need to switch gears to composting and leave the recycling to paper, bottles, and plastics that are used in other consumptions.

In conversations with our Environmental Commission members they were asking why are there not more recycling containers in our downtown area? Well, lets examine what is thrown out at Port Clinton for example. If it is mostly food or food contaminated plastics and paper. What would go into a recycling bin ? The bought water bottles that we are asking folks not to buy? What we really need is to get our merchants to use compostible products and get compost bins to toss this stuff in... Right?

We are making headway in increased ways for businesses and multifamily units to recycle. We still use tons of paper, plastic bottles, and cartons that we need to recycle, but when it comes to food waste, composting seems to be the answer.

Tell me your thoughts!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Four More Years.....

I want to thank all my supporters and citizens of Highland Park that believed in me and my ability to represent this community as a Councilman. While we will miss my friend Councilman Michael Brenner and his availability and representation of the common citizen, we gain a strong environmental advocate and friend of mine, Councilman-Elect Nancy Rotering.

This election was a close race where the incumbents were only separated by about 100 votes out of totals of approximately 3100 votes. While everybody talks about who came in first, second, third, and fourth, the bottom line is this community had great support for all of the four candidates. No one was blown out here and no mandates by anyone candidate were received, especially if you analyze the votes closely city wide.

Now that the election is over, we need to all come together and work to support each others potential on representation of our citizens. With the very bright and accomplished Council folks that surround me, I am sure we will be able to make the best decisions possible for our community.

The new Council is seated on May 11, 2009 and no matter who you supported for Council, we need to again unify for the common good of Highland Park.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Environmental Commission Proposes New Green Initiatives

Our Environmental Commission has some new ideas for our community to continue down the green trail. This grEen Commission is proposing to reduce the proliferation of single-use plastic shopping bags, reducing the use of lawn fertilizers containing inorganic phosphorus by prohibiting the use of inorganic phosphorus fertilizers, promoting the City’s drinking water as a replacement for purchasing bottled water, and regulating polystyrene foam disposable food service waste by requiring all food vendors and City facilities to provide compostable or recyclable disposable food service ware (take-out clam shell containers, cups, forks, etc.).

The next step in this process is to bring in all the stake holders like landscapers, restaurant owners, and other merchants to discuss the impacts of these proposals. We want to work with business to promote Highland Parks "Green" character and increase business to our community. As we worked with the Chamber of Commerce and property owners on the new commercial waste hauler contract that brought us free recycling and lower prices, I am hopeful another partnership with our business owners will again produce more green results.

When I hear of meeting dates I will update the blog....... Stay Tuned!!

Focus on the Arts at HPHS

In 1964, Highland Park High School developed the concept of a unique arts outreach program that would expose students and the community to the world of visual and performing arts. The mission of FOCUS has always been to increase appreciation and understanding of the arts and of the professionals engaged in them. Highland Park is a community rich in tradition, ethnic diversity and heritage.

We are recognizing the festival at City Council and asking the community to attend this great event. Information on Focus on the Arts can be found at the website.

The Mayor will proclaim April 27th - April 30th Focus on the Arts week. Remember that not only do arts and entertainment enrich our souls, it also is an effective draw to our community for our businesses and overall prosperity.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Getting Money to resurface Sheridan Road

Sen. Susan Garrett has reported that they passed a mini stimulus bill, allocating funds to cover local resurfacing road projects. I am happy to let you know what Highland Park will be receiving: 1. Lake Cook Rd/Sheridan Rd (Greenbay to Sheridan) .78 miles ($325,000). 2. Sheridan Rd./Walker Avenue to Lake Cook Road, 4.61 miles ($1,800.000) Thank You Senator Garrett!!!