News : Oak Lawn Extends Deal with Norcomm for 911 Center
Oak Lawn, IL, USA, Jan 18, 2016 -- The Oak Lawn Village Board approved a three-year contract extension with Norcomm, the Elmhurst-based company that runs the 911 center based in the Village Hall, but it wasn't without some opposition.
Village Trustee Bob Streit, 3rd District, spoke out against the contract during the Jan. 12 board meeting. But his opposition was not enough to prevent the deal from being approved in a 5-1 vote.
"Two years ago, I opposed outsourcing of the 911 center. Now, after evaluations and hundreds of complaints, I still believe this is the worst decision the village has ever made," Streit said. "I remember when Oak Lawn was looked on as a leader."
The original deal, signed two years ago, included a clause that allowed a three-year extension if both parties agreed.
The agreement resulted in 20 dispatchers losing their jobs, and having to re-apply to Norcomm for their positions.
Streit said, "When you dial 911, you expect to talk with a dispatcher who knows the community and does not have to ask you repeatedly for an address, and does not have to tell you the address is not in Oak Lawn."
Any such delay in emergency service, he said, can "end up with catastrophic results."
Streit referred to a six-minute delay for emergency vehicles to arrive at the scene of a vehicle crash at 95th Street and Oak Park Avenue in October 2014 that claimed the lives of two nuns and an elderly man.
"A six-minute delay is not acceptable. The quality has declined, and I'm not OK with that. That's why I oppose extension of this contract," Streit said.
Trustee Bud Stalker, 5th District, said he has reviewed Norcomm's service records and called it, "a professional organization that asks the necessary questions and gets to the place they have to be."
Village Manager Larry Deetjen recalled, "When the decision was made, it was not an easy decision," but one that has improved the village's emergency call center and saved the village "more than $1.5 million."
Streit countered, "It's common to ask four times for an address, and that's a lot of time."
But, that's the policy, according to Diane Tousignant, director of emergency communications for Oak Lawn.
"We follow a standard. When you call 911, we are required to verify an address and the city. We always verify, and make sure we're going to the right locations. Some of the issues I've heard have been that we're asking too many questions. While we continue to ask questions, they are medical-, police- or fire-related," she said.
Streit said he's heard from residents who are "frustrated" in dealing with the 911 center.
"People get frustrated when they're asked about the address several times. You're arguing with the dispatcher. That happens repeatedly. Usually, it's a medical emergency and you're saying, 'What's the address?' and 'It's not in Oak Lawn." That makes people frustrated," Streit said.
Mayor Sandra Bury said she was "disturbed by the numerous slanderous comments."
In other action Tuesday, the board approved a plan for a laser-tag business at 5520 111th St., The owner, Justin Cerniuk, plans to have a haunted house there during the Halloween season, too. He has operated a haunted house the past two years in the former Beatty Lumber building near the train station.
The board also, by a 5-1 vote, approved a special use permit and parking variance for the new Holistic Healing and Wellness Center, 9501 New England Ave. Trustee Tim Desmond, 1st District, expressed some concern over the lack of parking, but owner Kimberly Davis said there should be enough on nearby streets, if needed.
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The board approved a site plan for the Raising Cane's restaurant, which will be built at 11006 Cicero, on the empty lot just east of Mariano's.
And the board approved a site lease agreement with T-Mobile Central LLC for a telecommunications tower at 6451 93rd St.
Deetjen briefly discussed the need for the village to work with the Illinois Tollway regarding improvements needed at the interchange with 95th Street.
"It's a long-term vision for a construction project spanning from 2019 through 2025, to completely change the interchange at 95th Street," Deetjen said, adding, "It's an entrance to Oak Lawn, no different than 127th Street and Cicero Avenue."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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