Meet Mayor Serpico – Melrose Park

| March 5, 2013

DSC07509Although surrounded by his many awards, accolades and memorable pictures with famous people, Mayor Ron Serpico comes across as a modest, gentle giant, a man who with sixteen years as mayor of Melrose Park shows his commitment and dedication to his position.

The Mayor was gracious enough to give Richard Battaglia, President of the Melrose Park Chamber of Commerce, and I a few minutes for an interview, but once you start talking to him, you find the conversation flows. Even though the mayor had another appointment, he never rushed us out the door.

If you drive down North Avenue in Melrose Park, one cannot happen to notice the numerous just opened businesses that have evolved, not to mention the beautiful new makeover Winston Plaza has taken on; all this taking place during a time when the economy was at its worst. Serpico credits the fact that his administration looks at all options and types of businesses to bring into town. Although most people want more retail, it’s not always the best use of the space. For instance, after Value City went under, Everest College moved in and brought much needed jobs to the area. Other retailers that were enticed to come to Melrose Park were Costco, Meijer’s, and Al Piemonte Nisson which in turns helps keep property taxes at one of the lowest in the area. Serpico explained that although people are nostalgic and miss Kiddieland, Costco is bringing in millions of dollars in tax revenue to the village.

The myriad of development will continue with Menards planning a one level brand new store across from the Navistar plant. And Navistar has already started revamping much of their industrial area. Serpico worked hard to keep Navistar in Melrose Park and welcomed the $90M renovation they plan.

When asked what accomplishments during his time in office he is most proud of, he immediately brought up the $42 million dollar replacement of aging water mains that were in place since World War II. It was a “herculean” effort and benefited not only Melrose Park, but neighboring communities. In addition, the town’s ambulances were manned with their own paramedics which the village never had before. Not having to pay an outside firm, Serpico said, “the residents benefited greatly from this not only cost wise but with better service.”

Melrose Park is also home to a number of fests including the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that has been celebrating for over 100 years, the longest running festival in the Chicago area, and the annual Hispanofest draws nearly 125,000 people every year. On Labor Day weekend, Melrose Park presents the Taste of Melrose Park which is ranked by the Illinois Festival Association as the second best food festival in all of Illinois. What I found interesting is that the mayor told me how they took over the beer and pop sales and eliminated the middle man; the best part of it? They take all the profits from the sales and put it into a Melrose Park Sports and Family Fund. This fund gives back right to the community helping soccer programs, cub scouts, even a family who lost a loved one and couldn’t afford the funeral costs. “We called up a different organizations and we all got together to pay for the funeral. It’s all about helping people in need,” Serpico said.

In Mayor Serpico’s welcome letter to visitors of their website he said that if you walk down any Melrose Park street, you will be “immersed in a tapestry of cultures.” He is proud to offer services and programs that cater to all the residents. Last year 117 alleys were repaved in concrete and he’s proud of the fact that he has not passed on the increased Chicago water rates to the residents as most other villages have. They are also one of a few if the only village that offers twice a week garbage pick-up.

As I thank Mayor Serpico for his time and we were getting ready to close up our visit, he explained how he came about obtaining some of the pictures and memorabilia he has in his office. His genuine smile and sincerity came out even more at that time and I asked if he had any last comments. “I’m optimistic and excited about the future of Melrose Park. There are a lot of good things to look forward to.”

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Category: Articles, Chamber Chatter, Community News

About the Author ()

Barbara is the publisher of People and Places Newspaper which she started in August of 2011. A lifelong resident of Schiller Park, she always felt it important that residents needed to be kept informed about their communities. Since newspaper coverage for Schiller Park stopped about twenty years ago, she made it a goal to bring a newspaper back to the area. She tries to include all of Leyden Township in her reporting and wants to keep true with the mission of the paper to "inform, educate and entertain."

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