Fed funds flow to six Southland towns

BY MIKE NOLAN mnolan@southtownstar.com July 11, 2011 10:28PM

Six Southland communities will share $6.6 million in federal money to buy and rehab foreclosed homes and make other improvements, Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday during a stop in Tinley Park.

The money is part of the $169 million in federal disaster relief money the state got after the remnants of Hurricane Ike in 2008 spawned flooding in Illinois. Some of the money being given to local communities will be used to upgrade storm sewers.

After a speech to the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce at the Tinley Park Convention Center, Quinn also signed legislation intended to help non-home-rule communities better compete with their home-rule counterparts in attracting businesses and other economic development.

Of the Ike money, Lansing and South Holland each will receive about $1.6 million, while Hazel Crest is in line to receive $1.2 million. Phoenix will receive $820,000, Park Forest is getting $761,000, and Olympia Fields will receive $502,000.

Most of the towns will use the funds to buy foreclosed or distressed homes and rehab them. Park Forest also plans to use some of its money to demolish 23 vacant homes in its Eastgate neighborhood.

Sewer upgrades also will be completed in some communities, such as Phoenix. That village said its antiquated sewer system was damaged by Ike-spawned flooding in 2008.

Previously, Ike money also was earmarked for the demolition of the long-vacant Dixie Square Mall in Harvey.

Also Tuesday, Quinn signed into law legislation co-sponsored by state Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields) and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields). Riley said the new law will enable non-home-rule communities such as Olympia Fields to set aside funds specifically for economic development activities.

“It will even the playing field,” he said.

Previously, Riley said, non-home-rule communities were not, according to state law, specifically able to allocate funds for economic development activities. Riley said he worked with the Illinois Municipal League to craft the bill.