The Village of Oak Lawn failed to file a grant application with the Illinois Department of Transportation and therefore won’t share in the thirty million dollars distributed to local communities.
The Illinois Department of Transportation recently responded to a Freedom of Information request filed by the Oak Lawn Leaf. In the response, the FOIA Officer wrote:
… the Department conducted a search and found no documents responsive this this item. Specifically, There are no applications nor any grant awards for the Village of Oak Lawn for ITEP in 2016 or 2017.
The Illinois Department of Transportation recently announced the 2016 projects approved through IDOT’s Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, which includes biking and walking paths, trails, streetscape beautification and other work.
For 2016, IDOT received 241 applications for projects valued at a total of over $261 million dollars. However, Oak Lawn was not one of the applications.
This is not the first time that the Village has failed to even file applications for grants. In 2014, Trustee Robert Streit suggested that the village file for federal “Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (Safer Grants)”, which pays the entire salary and benefits of a new firefighter for two years.
At the time, Mayor Sandra Bury claimed that an application was being prepared but the Oak Lawn Leaf found that the statement was false after the village’s federal lobbyist noted that an application was not prepared. Village Manager Larry Deetjen admitted at the time that an application was not prepared because such an application would require the support of the firefighters’ union.
According to sources within the fire department, Deetjen had approached the union with the offer of adding firefighters through the Safer Grant if the union agreed to eliminate the minimum manning provision in its contract.
Under Deetjen’s leadership and the current board majority, the village has continuously reduced the number of fire department personnel resulting in the expenditure of millions of dollars in overtime costs.
Here is a list of the IDOT projects: