Business activity, concerns tops year’s news in Norridge, Harwood Heights
The Harlem Irving Plaza has detailed plans to include an entry into the parking lot along Cullom Ave. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Top web stories
The five most-viewed stories in 2012 on the NORRIDGE-HARWOOD HEIGHTS News website:
1. Park Ridge found liable in Maine South High School student’ death, ordered to pay $5M
2. A woman was shot in March on the 4100 block of Oriole Avenue in Norridge
3. Maine South grad plays Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys
4. Harwood Heights Plan Commission gives OK to Mariano’s proposal
5. Hell hath a name: Harlem construction
- Grocery construction becomes Harwood Heights resident’s ‘nightmare’
- Right turn lane near Mariano’s draws criticism
- Proposed mosque draws ire of neighbors in Harwood Heights
- Harwood Heights residents worry about community center traffic
- Norridge arborist knows his trees
- Village celebrating its 65th anniversary
- Drug charges against five in Harwood Heights
- Farmers market a first in Norridge
Updated: January 28, 2013 6:09AM
NORRIDGE — While everyone prepares for 2013 and a fresh start, Pioneer Press offers Norridge and Harwood Heights readers the top five stories from 2012. Led by business development and the summer drought, here are the highlights:
1. Residents displeased by proximity of new businesses
Norridge residents near Harlem Irving Plaza offered many of the same concerns voiced by Harwood Heights residents near Lawrence and Oketo, where a Mariano’s Fresh Market is under construction.
Those living near both sites complained of noise, rats and dust during the demolition phase.
Added to the mix, the residents a block west on Olcott said they believe traffic from a proposed Mercy Islamic Community Center planned for the vacant Eisenhower Public Library building also will harm the residential feel of their neighborhood.
Residents near all three sites voiced concerns over traffic congestion.
The Harlem Irving Plaza expansion project called for the addition of nearly 100,000 square feet that will house a one-story, 32,500-square-foot Sports Authority and a two-story, 45,000-square-foot XSports fitness club. The area also included room for smaller, retail shops.
The approximately 70,000-square-foot Mariano’s Fresh Market would be located on the southwest corner of Lawrence and Oketo avenues, a roughly seven-acre parcel.
Customers of Harlem Irving Plaza frequently use Olcott as a back road into the mall to avoid the traffic on Harlem Avenue.
2. Summer drought takes toll on trees
Long stretches of dry, hot days this summer forced the village to implement a strict set of water rules to combat the regional drought.
While rains late in summer helped nourish the area’s trees, the damage caused by this year’s drought could take two to three years to show up, arborist Tony Valentino reported.
Officials from both Norridge and Harwood Heights reported that with residents’ conservative use of water, they should see no detrimental effects during this drought.
“Residents are using less water now than they ever have before,” said Norridge Trustee Dennis Stefanowicz in June. “The only thing the village requires is that residents do not water their lawns between noon and 6 p.m.”
3. Harwood Heights celebrated 65th anniversary
Harwood Heights celebrated its 65th anniversary in August with a two-day festival at Union Ridge School.
The weather, for a couple of hours the first day, threatened to rain on the party. But after a couple of hours, the rain subsided and the live entertainment returned to the stage. Residents also enjoyed the games, musical entertainment and food at the Harwood Heights 2012 Festival.
To add to the anniversary theme, the Historical Society displayed photos of farms on Newland Avenue and heavy traffic on Harlem Avenue dating back to the 1950s. Other memorabilia from Harwood Heights’ early years included a newspaper headline that warned, “Gasoline prices may hit 75 cents.”
“Our 65th Anniversary Fest marks another milestone for our village,” said Village President Arlene Jezierny. “Most important, it’s an opportunity for residents east and west of Harlem (Avenue) to come together to enjoy one another’s company and share stories of their time in Harwood Heights.”
4. Harwood Heights police make drug bust
An extensive investigation by the Harwood Heights Police Department led to drug charges against five people late in the year.
Working off an anonymous tip, officers monitored activities at a home in the 4700 block of North Olcott Avenue. Officers ultimately executed a search warrant on Nov. 8.
Police learned several minors frequenting the building were students at Ridgewood High School. The operation became so brazen that officers spotted cars stopping in the street, supposedly for drive-up service.
Some of the charges related to the case included felony manufacturing and delivery of marijuana, felony possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, endangering the life and health of a child, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
The investigation is ongoing.
5. Norridge hosts inaugural farmers’ market
Community members came out in droves when Norridge hosted its first farmer’s market.
An opportunity to purchase farm-fresh goods brought people out to the inaugural June event. The market featured fresh produce, honey, eggs, meats and artisan cheeses and breads.
Village officials said they expect to continue the market in 2013.