Political posturing tops year’s news in Elmwood Park
Joe Ponzio, Voice Party candidate for village president, speaks to residents about his plans for the future Oct. 27. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Top web stories
The five most-viewed stories in 2012 on the ELM leaves website:
1. Elmwood Park teen beaten with pipes
2. River Forest foster parent Robert Gaskill charged with sexual abuse
3. Fenwick fashion show features friars and styles
4. Gun owners rip OakPark regulation plans
5. Electric bill shocks Oak Park resident
- Shake-up in Elmwood Park Voice Party as Village Board petition deadline looms
- Electric aggregation referendum fails
- Elmwood Park trustees accept Bennett’s resignation
- Longtime Elmwood Park village manager to retire in June
- Elmwood Park officials praise retired parks director
- Elmwood Park fire chief announces he’s leaving
- Former Daley aide to manage Elmwood Park
- Grand, Harlem improvements get approval in Elmwood Park
Updated: January 28, 2013 6:10AM
ELMWOOD PARK — While everyone prepares for 2013 and a fresh start, Pioneer Press offers Elm Leaves readers the top five stories from 2012. For Elmwood Park, 2012 has been a year of politics, redevelopment and changes in administration. Here are the highlights:
1. Political posturing for Village Board
Rumors of secret political moves and slate changes in Elmwood Park were plentiful as the deadline to file nominating paperwork to be on the April, 2013 ballot drew near.
Members of the Voice Party and the Village Unity Party have been jockeying for the votes of Elmwood Park residents since the spring. Prior to officially announcing their candidacy in July as a slated party, Voice Party members were always present at Village Board meetings, often voicing their perspectives during the public comment session of the meeting.
The board members, four who were running as part of the Unity Party, used their position to highlight the programs and positive moves the village has made under their leadership.
And as the Dec. 26 deadline to file petitions to be on the ballot approached, the political moves continued.
The Voice Party slate originally included Joe Ponzio for village president; Diane Marchetti for village clerk; and Elvis Hernandez, Anthony “Tony” Del Santo and Philip Marcantelli running for three trustee seats.
On Dec. 8, however, Ponzio reported that Marcantelli and Del Santo previously informed him they were no longer running on the Voice slate.
Marcantelli confirmed he left the party because he wanted to mend fences with the Unity Party, which is headed by Elmwood Park Village President Peter Silvestri, who is seeking re-election for the village’s top post. Marcantelli said the compromise would entail members of each party coming together as one.
Silvestri said party unification is one of the many rumors flying around and that he and his running mates have not left the Unity Party.
2. Electricity referendum fails — twice
Residents in Elmwood Park spoke out at the ballot box in November reiterating that they would rather make their own choice when it comes to electric aggregation.
At issue was a referendum that asked residents if the village should have the authority to negotiate for the lowest possible rates for electricity on behalf of homeowners and small businesses.
The defeat of that referendum came despite a town hall meeting Oct. 25 in the gymnasium at the Elmwood Park Recreation Department. There, village officials had offered their arguments in favor of the referendum -- to no avail, it turns out.
This was the second attempt by the village to pass the referendum. Village officials also had tried in March to get residents to vote in favor of giving the village the authority to negotiate on behalf of homeowners and small businesses. It didn’t pass then, either.
3. Bennett, others resign
After 37 years as a trustee on the Elmwood Park Village Board, Alan Bennett stepped down in August.
Village trustees formally accepted Bennett’s resignation at the Aug. 20 board meeting. He resigned because he was moving to Lombard to be closer to his grandchildren and other relatives.
Several other village officials also chose to move on.
Elmwood Park Village Manager John “Jay” Dalicandro retired as village manager in June after 23 years on the job, the longest a manager has served the village. Don Kmiecik resigned after 33 years as director of Elmwood Park Parks and Recreation Department.
Elmwood Park Fire Chief Michael Marino retired as chief in November after 35 years on the job, including nine years as chief.
4. New Village Manager selected
Paul A. Volpe, 49, who lives in the Galewood neighborhood, was hired as the new village manager replacing John “Jay” Dalicandro, who retired.
Volpe was the former chief of staff for former Mayor Richard M. Daley and left his position as vice president of budget and capital for the Chicago Transit Authority to take the village manager position. His annual salary is $155,000, plus benefits.
5. Street Improvements
The village embarked on a Streetscape Improvement Plan to give some main thoroughfares a face-lift.
The improvements will be on the west side of Harlem Avenue between Fullerton and Wrightwood avenues and the north side of Grand Avenue between Harlem and 73rd avenues. The sidewalk improvements in the two areas should be completed this year, but will be the base for major improvements slated for the spring. One of the major improvements will be on the northwest corner of Grand and Harlem avenues.
The village plans to put in an electronic sign, a gateway sign and fountain at that location, along with raised planters and decorative brick along the walkway. Another major improvement will take place at the northwest corner of Harlem and Fullerton avenues. That spot is getting a bench, a planter and a monument with the village’s medallion. New black light poles will be installed throughout the area.
The project will cost $996,000 and will be paid with tax increment finance money. The total project should be completed by April.