Mayor Dan McLaughlin is looking to continue.
Orland Park’s mayor since 1993 recently announced at a fundraiser that he will seek another term in the position, to continue developing the downtown area, updating infrastructure while improving walkability and reducing traffic, especially along LaGrange Road.
McLaughlin is also committed to maintaining Orland Park as a retail hub in the south suburbs, though he also would like to see a broader range of job types available in town.
“A long time ago we chose to be a retail center, and we need to foster it since we committed to it,” he said in a phone interview. “But we also annexed property down near I-80, for what we hoped would lead to better paying jobs than just retail, for office and research use. It’s been slow, but we still want to provide a better selection of jobs with that area.”
McLaughlin cited in a press release that commercial investment is up now in Orland Park at $96 million this year, compared to $11 million in 2009. He also cited residential development at $31 million in 2012, compared to $14 million in 2009.
McLaughlin’s other examples of stewardship he cited include the addition of Whole Foods and Berkot’s, along with intersection improvements on LaGrange Road at 143rd Street and 159th Street, as well as 159th and Harlem Avenue.
“Trying to get roads built out has always been a battle, since the state and county never had money to do it,” McLaughlin said. “We had to put up our own to get a lot of these projects off the ground. If we weren’t aggressive, the projects would never get done.”
Ninety 7 Fifty and Walking
Some residents still say the Ninety 7 Fifty on the Park apartment complex as a risky venture with a complex finance agreement, but he remains behind the effort, citing a recent bond sale worth about $20 million from the debt incurred to establish a line of credit with Indiana-based developers Flaherty and Collins, who are building the complex.
“We did it this way so we could protect the investment,” McLaughlin said. “To get an outstanding interest rate on the bond sale, and to be able to sell it to as many bidders thanks to our bond rating and financial condition, we’ll actually make added money on the (complex’s) construction.”
McLaughlin said several restaurants and retailers have inquired about both Ninety 7 Fifty’s first floor retail units, and areas in the north corner that haven’t been built out yet, though he said he couldn’t specify who has expressed interest.
Another initiative is to improve walkability, especially to connect the Old Orland area on 143rd Street west of the Metra tracks with the Main Street Triangle, the Ravinia Avenue corridor (which includes Frederick T. Owens Village Hall, Orland Park Public Library, Orland Township and other village buildings) and the Orland Crossing Shopping Center. One aspect of the plan includes a pedestrian bridge going over LaGrange Road parallel to the Metra track, though it has been delayed.
“The bridge itself is done, but the problem is there are no paths to walk onto the bridge from the east or west,” McLaughlin said. “With heavy equipment going back and forth, it didn’t make sense to put the paths in because they’d be chewed up.”
He said the bridge is scheduled to open in spring.
Orland Park United for 2013
McLaughlin also announced a slate of three incumbent village trustees running for re-election and a first-time candidate for village clerk, looking to fill the shoes left by David Maher, who has chosen not to run again after serving on the board since 1996.
Trustees Jim Dodge, Brad O’Halloran and Kathy Fenton round out the slate, along with John Mehalek running for clerk. All are under the Orland Park United ticket, according to the release.
Mehalek was described in the release as follows:
Mehalek served on the Community Consolidated School District 146 Board for eight years, serving as president for two and chairing the board’s Finance Committee for six. An I.B.E.W. Local 134 Electrician, Mehalek serves as a project manager for private electrical contractors and teaches for the I.B.E.W. Apprentice Program. Mehalek was an Orland Youth Association Basketball Commissioner for six years, is a parishioner and volunteer at St. Michael Church, coached OYA Girls Softball, Boys Basketball and Boys Baseball. He and his wife, Michele, are band parents with District 146 and Carl Sandburg High School and have three children.
While he and the four candidates are running together, McLaughlin, who also serves as the Orland Township Democratic Committeeman, said the ticket is non-partisan.
“There is always an association to parties, with the proximity to regional and national elections, but for local races like this it isn’t necessary,” McLaughlin said about identifying as with a party. “I have people I support on both sides of the aisle, because we’re all trying to make Orland Park a better place.”
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