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Chamber President Shares Her Take on the New Mall Development

by Evergreen Park Chamber of Commerce President Helen Cuprisin

I love to see a crowd at the – a welcome change from the few usual suspects who show up. I was curious how so many people were notified about the meeting and what they hoped to achieve. The Mayor allowed them 45 minutes to express their opinions before he went to the agenda.

It was sad that When the zoning board had a public hearing, only a few Beverly residents were there to voice their opinions. That was the time when dozens of people should have been there to oppose the plan. Since the development will add sales tax dollars to benefit the schools and the community, I doubt the Beverly objections could derail the project.

After the meeting, a few Beverly residents were still out in the hallway. I asked how they managed to get so many people there and how they thought they could now affect the development. I hope their efforts could make a difference at .

It’s a little too late for Beverly, but this is what we did to stop commercial development in back in 1995.

When I heard about the proposed cemetery development, I tried to find out how this could happen. I found out that the village did not have a comprehensive plan that would determine where residential, commercial, or open land could be proposed. That’s why the developer thought he could build on cemetery land – there were no zoning restrictions. As a result, Evergreen Park created a comprehensive plan to prevent future issues with problematic developments.

After it appeared that Mayor Vacco’s administration thought it was a good idea to allow Target and Menard’s to build on 33 acres in the cemetery, residents banded together, filled meeting rooms, passed out petitions (we got 6,000 signatures), filled the village hall, got our objections in the agenda, and finally succeeded in getting the developer to bow out and sell the land to the village. We were aided by Father Byrne, , who agreed that big box stores in a cemetery (even though it wasn’t a Catholic cemetery) was not a good idea. It was a lot of work, but so many people agreed that it was a necessary fight. The effort has to be there right at the beginning when a favorable outcome could be achieved. The difference is that it seemed so wrong to put commercial property in a cemetery, but putting it on a former golf course was not as unsettling. The village did put some commercial at 87th & Kedzie, but that wasn’t in the midst of graves. The community has benefited by having space for our , skate rink, ball field, walking paths, fire house. The same benefit for the community will be at the golf course west of the tracks.

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