Ed Paese MT 2016-12-21 IMG_3923
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SSMMA Executive Director Ed Paesel steps aside after 17 years

Ed Paesel spent the last 17 years working for the good of the South Suburbs as executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA).

His accomplishments speak volumes about his ability to get things done, but he’s ready to slow down some. He’ll turn the job over to Kristi De Laurentiis on Jan. 1.

Ed Paesel spent the last 17 years working for the good of the South Suburbs as executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA).

His accomplishments speak volumes about his ability to get things done, but he’s ready to slow down some. He’ll turn the job over to Kristi De Laurentiis on Jan. 1.

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  Ed Paesel

Paesel has worked with Homewood and Flossmoor administrators on various projects. Currently SSMMA is helping Homewood with its Transit Oriented Development (TOD) project for downtown Homewood.  SSMMA gave Homewood a $50,000 grant for TOD pre-planning, architectural drawings and engineering.

SSMMA also provided federal dollars to Homewood for engineering work on its ongoing plans to improve the Metra station, and SSMMA created the South Suburban Land Bank that Homewood is using to redevelop several vacant business sites.

Paesel has worked with both Mayor Paul Braun of Flossmoor and Mayor Richard Hofeld of Homewood who each served as president of SSMMA.

In all, SSMMA represents an estimated 700,000 residents in 46 communities. Its territory is 30 miles east-west and 30 miles north-south from the state line on the east and the border with Chicago on the north to Orland Park and Mokena on the west and to Beecher and Peotone on the south.

Paesel has been around long enough to see several major improvements come to fruition, including the widening of I-80, and the I-355 widening between 71st Street and 75th Street. The development of the interchange connecting I-57 to I-294 two years ago has exceeded expectations of Illinois Tollway executives, he said.

Next up is the widening of the viaduct on Vollmer Road east of Kedzie Avenue. Olympia Fields is the lead community on the project, but Flossmoor will also be part of the planning committee.

Cook County is calling the rebuild a major project because of the impact on traffic going east on Vollmer from the I-57 exit. SSMMA provided money for the first phase engineering costs.

Paesel has never given up on the area’s one major dream to build a third airport in the Chicago region. He’s been part of the planning process since 1984 when he was mayor of Sauk Village and represented SSMMA in discussions.

In 1989 he was named director of the Third Airport Clearinghouse. He held that position until 1999 when he became SSMMA chief.

Paesel said the state has purchased nearly all of the 5,000 acres in and around Peotone needed for the first phase – a runway and terminal.

The airport will initially focus on cargo flights, especially in light of the intermodal terminals in Elwood, Sauk Village, Chicago Heights and the Canadian National intermodal in Harvey that Paesel says has “grown exponentially.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed the air space analysis and Paesel said “it looked good.” Now the FAA will go through a final detailed air space analysis study and a final record of decision outlining the airport’s layout.

“Once they get that  (study) started, it shouldn’t take more than a year and a half or so,” he said.

In the next month or two, the state is expected to issue a Request for Information to see how much interest there is from the private sector to underwrite development. Paesel is confident there will be significant interest.

“That (airport) is the biggest overarching project (for SSMMA). It’s had its lulls and peak periods,” he said, but doesn’t hesitate when asked if the airport will be built.

“Absolutely,” he says definitively.

 

 

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