In her first State of the Village address, Kelly Burke said that she was thrilled to serve as mayor, and credited her predecessor Jim Sexton for leaving a strong financial and business legacy in Evergreen Park.

Burke spoke to business community members at the American Legion hall on October 14, 2021, and gave a detailed report on the financial health of Evergreen Park. The town has a balanced budget, she said, with funds available to maintain public works and safety equipment, and also to upgrade local parks. Home sales are strong, with the average single family home price increasing 12% over 2020, Burke said.

As for business development, Evergreen Plaza is 95% leased and was just sold to a buyer whom Burke expects will continue to put resources into the shopping complex and attract quality retailers. In addition, businesses along Western Avenue are filling up, with very little space available. Burke said she has conducted an ongoing commercial tour of Evergreen Park and cited several new businesses that had opened this year.

The Village is developing a list of vacant commercial properties in other areas of Evergreen Park, including along 95th Street, in an effort to recruit new businesses, especially locally owned ones. Burke said she also would like to attract some new chain restaurants that offer healthier options.

In the mayor’s remarks, it was clear that community input is an important component of her leadership approach. She invited feedback from business owners and residents on what they would like to see for Evergreen Park. Since taking the reins of leadership, she has reached out to community members and business owners to take their temperature on how the Village is doing. To engage residents, she also added new members to several Village committees to assess current programs and explore ways to make them more robust.

The Evergreen Park Chamber of Commerce is pleased to present the State of the Village Address and Luncheon every year, and thanks Mayor Burke for sharing her  updates with business and community stakeholders.

Evergreen Park is a great place to live, work, study, and do business, according to its number one fan, Mayor James Sexton. He presented a snapshot of the Village’s progress over the past year at the 2019 State of the Village Luncheon, held September 26 at the new Community Center.

“The future of this village has never been better,” Sexton told the gathering of Chamber members, local officials, and reporters. ‘The large national retailers have found Evergreen Park, and they are enjoying themselves here. More and more are coming.”

The Village issued 514 business licenses to brick-and-mortar locations over the past year, Mr. Sexton said. New developments and expansions include the following:

  • The Olive Garden plans to take over the space previously occupied by Applebee’s at 95th and Western. They will demolish the existing structure and rebuild, opening in late 2020.
  • Core Fitness has expanded its facilities, doubling its studio space and allowing them to greatly expand their fitness center in addition to their physical therapy and other services.
  • LA Fitness may move into the existing Planet Fitness space at 95th and Western.
  • LePar Animal Hospital purchased the old Souzy’s restaurant next door and plans to open a pet grooming and daycare business there.
  • A restaurant called 95th Street Barbecue is opening where Famous Dave’s used to be.

The Mayor also reviewed the Village’s balanced budget, which was just over $28 million this fiscal year. He praised the two local school districts, which account for more than 70% of Village expenditures. “Without good schools, you don’t have good kids. And if you don’t have good kids, you don’t have a good town,” he said.

He also commended the Village’s law enforcement departments. With 62 full-time police officers, Evergreen Park has more than double the national average, Mr. Sexton said. The Police Department provides funeral watch and vacation watch services to local community members, offering to stop by a residence three times daily to make sure the house is safe. For businesses, they offer Walk & Talk service, in which an officer parks a patrol car outside a business, gets out, and walks around.

Throughout his speech, the mayor urged residents and business owners alike to keep the Village of Evergreen Park strong by shopping within its borders. He urged the audience to remember our longtime small, family-owned businesses, including Barraco’s, Evergreen Doors, and Wolf’s Bakery.

“One percent of most everything you buy in Evergreen Park comes directly back to this Village,” he said. “. . . So please, if you have the opportunity, shop here and shop local.”

Evergreen Park Chamber of Commerce Officers and Mayor James Sexton post at the 2019 State of the Village Luncheon September 26 

Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton presented his Annual State of the Village address to EPCC members on April 18 over lunch at Barraco’s Restaurant. He shared updates on many new businesses that have opened over the past year and additional businesses that will open in the coming months, including Whole Foods in the Plaza, scheduled to open in January 2019.

The next day, April 19, we learned that Carson’s woes will extend to the Evergreen Park store. However, Mayor Stexton told the Patch he is already speaking with interested retailers about leasing the Carson’s space. The white building abuts several other new businesses that have opened recently in the newly reimagined Evergreen Plaza, including DSW, Five Below, Petco, TJ Maxx, Ulta, David’s Bridal, Raising Cane’s, and others. Mayor Sexton said the Plaza development is in its final stages, with 14 of the 30 stores already open. In total, the project will have created 500 retail jobs and 200 union construction jobs.

In his address, Mayor Sexton stressed that economic growth is strong in Evergreen Park, which issues 500 business licenses each year. He said the Village government operates with a balanced budget, and all pensions are fully funded. Home values are rising, and the Village continues to invest in recreational services for residents, with a new $6 million Community Center scheduled to open in April 2019.

Mayor Sexton urged business owners and residents alike to support businesses in Evergreen Park rather than shopping online or in neighboring municipalities. “One percent of everything you buy here comes back to Evergreen Park, which allows us to continue to do good things,” he said.