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Dan Polk said there is a perception that his village is not business friendly. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Dan Polk said there is a perception that his village is not business friendly. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

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Palos Park looks to improve its image in the business world

By Jeff Vorva

Whether the Village of Palos Park allows gaming machines in town or not, it has a problem it wants to address.

The village needs to improve its image to the business community.

“I think that Palos Park traditionally, for want of a better term, has not particularly been business-friendly,” Commissioner Dan Polk said at the village council’s Nov. 22 meeting.

After three straight council meetings in which officials sought out opinions from the public on the matter, they hope to hear from businesses at the Dec. 13 meeting before making a decision. During the past two meetings, four members of the public were against it, and one was in favor of it.

Both Polk and Mayor John Mahoney are leaning in favor of the move despite the fact they are not proponents of gambling.

Polk said that if he walked into a restaurant or bar and found out it had gaming machines, he would walk out. Mahoney said that he went to Las Vegas and once won $300 and once lost $300 and that was enough to convince him that he was not a fan of the activity.

Both are putting their negative feelings about gambling aside for what they believe is the greater good for Palos Park, especially on the business front.

“Look how long it’s taken the restaurant the restaurant that is going in on McCarthy and LaGrange [Wu’s House, which replaced Hackney’s],” Polk said. “That property stood empty for a long time. I can tell you from personal experience that part of the reason is that we were not seen as particularly business friendly.

“Does that mean that I’m willing to go against the public opinion to support five businesses? No, but I think they deserve a fair shake.”

The board was asked by a citizen if the village lost businesses because of the lack of video gaming.

“We certainly haven’t attracted very many businesses,” Polk said. “I don’t know if video gambling puts that on the plus side or the minus side. We don’t have very many businesses in Palos Park to lose. But if you look at the shopping center, there are empty storefronts.

“There is opportunity there. There is opportunity in the western annexations. I know the vast majority of the people of Palos Park don’t think very much about it once they get past Bell Road. But that’s part of Palos Park as well. It’s hard to construct ordinances that only refer to the pieces of the part that people don’t consider to actually be in Palos Park.”

He added that Gleneagles Country Club opted out with the village via a disconnection agreement.

“We lost a golf course precisely because of the fact that they didn’t want to play by the kinds of rules that we had sent out even though they knew those rules were there before they approached us for annexation,” Polk said.

Mahoney, Lightfoot to work together

Mahoney was named as the new chairman of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Executive Board on Nov. 8.

One of the officers serving under his watch will be Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is the first vice chair.

The caucus is a public policy company made up of 275 communities that was founded in 1997 by former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

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