CALUMET CITY | Municipal government will begin to work with a newly formed planning commission consisting of business and community officials from across the city.
The commission, which will be chaired by Mike Hoffman, of Teska Community Planning Development, Economics, Site Design and Landscape Architecture, held its first meeting earlier this month.
Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush said the group would meet again next month, at which time a regular meeting schedule is likely to be set.
The mayor said the point is to get the opinions of people outside of local government when contemplating plans for Calumet City’s future.
She said the group is not an official city government agency, and is having its expenses covered through funds from two grants totaling $50,000 previously received by the city.
“We want to reach out to the community to see what ideas they have about what direction Calumet City should be headed in for the future,” Qualkinbush said. “We want to get other perspectives.”
Among those people serving on the Planning Commission is Creg Williams, the superintendent of Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215, who said he’s interested in making sure local officials keep the needs of the elementary and high schools in mind when making plans for the future.
He said one area of concern for his high school district is accommodating the growing number of students for whom English is a second language.
“I think that when you look at the demographics of Calumet City, you need to take into account the growing Latino population,” Williams said. “We’re trying to accommodate it in the schools, and we need to do the same across the community.”
Other people included on the plan commission are city Housing Director James Gigliotti, BMO Harris Bank Vice President George St. Marie, PACE community relations representative Jessica Mitchell and section manager David Tomzik, and William Whitaker and Ernest R. Roberts III, of South Holland-based Robinson Engineering.
“We wanted people from the schools, transportation, from all sectors, when putting this commission together,” Qualkinbush said.
While Williams said his focus on making sure the schools are included in future development is something that will have long-term consequences.
“We’re talking about 10, 20, 30 years down the road about what direction Calumet City should go,” he said. “We all want to make sure we’re a part of the city’s future.”