Potholes, pit bulls, litter — “I just think things have really gotten out of hand”
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (April 7, 2022) – Three Lansing residents with no connection to each other attended the April 5 Lansing Village Board meeting and voiced concerns during public comment.
“I take pride in where I live,” said Timothy Jones, a 22-year resident of Lansing. “The reason I’m here [at this meeting] is because I have concerns,” said Jones. He went on to describe the potholes in his South Manor Drive neighborhood, which have been patched repeatedly to no avail. “It makes the holes worse,” Jones said of the temporary fix.
Jones also made the Board aware of the excessive trash and litter along Wentworth south of 186th Street. “It looks like a garbage bin,” he said. “That should be unacceptable.” Jones said he does what he can and picks up fast food bags when he sees drivers toss them from their cars, but he urged the Village to do something on a larger scale and more frequently. He also wondered about a property maintenance program or code enforcement for homeowners who don’t seem to care about upkeep.
“I just think things have really gotten out of hand,” he said, summarizing the concerns he had laid before the Board. He received applause as he took his seat.
Deborah Peoples, a seven-year Lansing resident, had similar concerns. She brought pictures of the potholes on Locust Street where she lives and said, “I wish you guys would take a caravan and come to this block.” Citing her experience as a realtor, Peoples said, “I have driven down 90% of Lansing roads over the past six years. I have not seen a block like this.” She also expressed frustration that her calls to the Village went unanswered until the day of the meeting. And she questioned the Board’s approval earlier in the meeting of spending money to repave the volleyball courts in the Lansing Sports Complex when so many roads in Lansing need attention.
Dave DeJong, who grew up in Lansing, was next to make the Board aware of his frustration with current conditions on Oak Avenue. “The road’s a mess,” he summarized. “I understand the expense of repaving streets, but our property taxes — mine’s gone up 31%. …And I know, that’s not all going to you guys; a lot of it’s going to the schools and whatnot. But you would think with the amount of money we’re paying that we could get streets repaved. The car stickers went up 50% in one year — where is that money going?”
In addition to affirming the concerns Jones had expressed about property maintenance and inspections, DeJong also raised questions about the responsibilities of dog owners in Lansing. “What is the rule on dangerous dogs?” he asked, explaining his concerns about a fearsome pit bull in a nearby yard with an “inadequate” fence. “[That dog] scares the snot out of us when we come out of our garage and walk to our back door and that thing starts barking at us.”
“We love this town,” said DeJong. “And we know so many people are leaving, they’re jumping the border. And — we’re on the fence, I’ll be honest with you.”
“It just seems like we’re getting to be a more run-down town,” he finished. “We’ve got to do something to improve our image.”
“I agree with you sir,” said Mayor Patty Eidam.
In fact, Eidam had offered responses to each of the commenters as they presented their complaints. She connected Jones and DeJong with Building Commissioner Zoran Savic regarding property upkeep, ordinances, and inspections. She asked Village Clerk Vivian Payne to include Wentworth Avenue on the list of areas that will be targeted during Community Clean-Up Day (April 23), and she invited Jones to participate. “Sounds good,” said Jones.
Eidam also connected Public Works Superintendent Gary Richardson with Peoples and DeJong, and she suggested Police Chief Al Phillips might be able to address dog concerns with DeJong.
“If you don’t get answers to those problems tonight,” said Mayor Eidam, “please give my office a call tomorrow and we’ll try to help you.”
Perhaps the most dramatic response came in regard to the road conditions in Jones’ South Manor Drive neighborhood. “I want to send you home with some good news,” Village Administrator Dan Podgorski told Jones after his public comment. “Later on this evening we’re going to be authorizing going out to bid for resurfacing the entire Manor Drive area.” The item was already on the Committee of the Whole meeting agenda as part of Trustee Leo Valencia’s report on the 2021 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for street resurfacing.
During that section of the meeting Steven Kaminsky of Robinson Engineering updated the Board on the grant process and plans. The Village had received $200,000 in CDBG funds after submitting an application for $400,000. “The application was to resurface all the streets in the Manor subdivision,” explained Kaminsky. “That’s South Manor Drive, Louise Drive, West Louise Drive, North Manor Drive, Sharon Court, and Barbara Court.” Robinson requested authorization to go out for bid on the project. With Board approval at the next meeting, construction could begin by late May or early June. The project is estimated to take 6–8 weeks.
Lansing Village Board meetings are open to the public and typically begin at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The evening consists of two separate meetings — the 7 p.m. Board meeting is when Trustees vote on items that have been discussed earlier. The Committee of the Whole meeting takes place directly following the Board meeting, and new topics are presented for Board discussion and consideration. Public Comment is on the agenda for both meetings, but during Committee of the Whole comments must relate to items that have been brought up during that meeting.
Meetings take place at the Police and Court Complex (Lansing Police Department), 2710 170th Street, Lansing. The Lansing Journal publishes the agendas for these meetings, and subscribers receive the information via the Daily News email.