UPDATE Breaking News: Secretary of State announces new location for driver services facility in Orland Park

Orland Township strikes intergovernmental agreement with Secretary of State to put facility in building located at 14807 S. Ravinia Ave.

By Jon DePaolis

UPDATE 5 p.m.

The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office and Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady are crediting State Sen. Bill Cunningham with getting the ball rolling toward moving the driver services facility to the Orland Township Building.

“Sen. Cunningham contacted our office and made the recommendation that we talk to the Orland Township people,” stated Secretary of State spokesman Dave Druker by email Friday, June 26. “Tom Benigno, the deputy Secretary of State, talked to Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady. And with the sign-off by Secretary [Jesse] White, the intergovernmental agreement was finalized.”

Interviewed by phone on June 26, O’Grady said he met with Cunningham about two weeks prior to discuss finding a space for the Secretary of State facility.

“We both thought it was in the best interest of the area of Orland Park,” O’Grady said.

While details are still being worked out regarding the facility moving into the building — and no timetable has been set for when the facility would be open — O’Grady confirmed that there would be no rent fee structure for the Secretary of State to operate inside the Township building. Rather, there would just be a “nominal fee” related to the intergovernmental agreement signed by the two parties.

“It is similar to our previous agreement with the Village of Orland Park,” Druker stated.

Druker also stated that the Secretary of State looked at other locations in the area, but ultimately decided to stay in Orland Park.

“This is a win for everyone, and we look forward to working with the leadership in Orland Township to better serve the people in Orland Park and Orland Township,” he stated.

Druker said the Township location will be an express facility, offering the same services as what had been at Village Hall. While it will not include Real ID services, Druker said the deadline for that has been extended until October 2021.

“We are very pleased to be able to stay in the area, especially a location people are familiar with,” Druker stated.

For O’Grady, working with the Secretary of State was a way to answer the concerns of Township residents.

“We do a lot for the seniors, and I heard an outcry from a lot of seniors saying they were disappointed [the facility had closed],” O’Grady said. “We are very connected with our senior population, especially when it comes to providing essential services that they want. We want to make sure that we are offering those to the seniors of Orland Township. I think that was certainly a motivating factor on my part.

“I’m glad that it has come together. I’m looking forward to getting the office open as quickly as possible … so we can provide those essential services to everyone in the township, including the seniors.”

Tinley Park Trustee Michael Glotz also responded to a request for comment from Richard Free Press regarding the announcement. Glotz had recently asked staff to see if the Secretary of State was interested in moving its facility to Tinley Park.

“As much as I’m disappointed the Secretary of State will not be coming to Tinley Park, I’m ecstatic for the area to keep it in our own backyard,” Glotz said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better leader than Orland Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady to have it at the township. All of the surrounding communities needed another option, so we aren’t flooding Markham with too many customers. Markham is an extremely busy facility on its own. The closing of the Orland Park Village Hall facility would have made things very difficult for staff and residents trying to use their services.”

Glotz said that even though it is not located in Tinley Park, having the facility in Orland Township will be a great option for residents.

“Paul O’Grady has always looked out for our seniors, [and] now he’s looking out for our residents in our region,” Glotz said.

He also thanked Cunningham and White for “their support of the south suburbs and making this happen.”

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau also weighed in on the Secretary of State moving down the street to the Township building.

“I’m happy that they are staying in Orland Park, [but] I’m disappointed that the taxpayers are subsidizing them when they had an agreement to go to a facility that is a taxpaying-business in Orland Park and pay a market-based rent,” Pekau said. “It’s really unfair to that business for the government to be undercutting them.

“But I’m happy that [the Secretary of State] is staying. I hope that since they went to find that other place because they wanted to expand their services, including Real ID — which they could not offer at Village Hall — I hope they will be able to offer those expanded services that they have been saying since 2001 that they’d like to offer.”

Pekau also fought back against the claims that he was responsible for the Secretary of State leaving Village Hall.

“I have never spoken to anyone at the Secretary of State — ever,” he said.

Pekau said the claims made by White in the press release were not factually accurate.

“All we asked them to do was to sign an agreement,” Pekau said. “They had been in there since 1993 with no agreement, which is malfeasance on the Village’s part for 30 years.”

Pekau said the Secretary of State’s Office also had told Village staff that they were leaving because of coronavirus concerns.

“They told us they were not moving back in after COVID-19, because they could not effectively social distance in the Village Hall,” he said. “I’m hoping they can still social distance over at Orland Township.”

Original post at 12:13 p.m.

Weeks after closing the driver services facility in Orland Park Village Hall, the Illinois Secretary of State has found a new location in the southwest suburbs — and just a stone’s throw from its old home.

In a press release sent Friday, June 26, the Secretary of State’s Office announced it had entered into an intergovernmental agreement with Orland Township to have a new driver services facility at the Township building located at 14807 S. Ravinia Ave. in Orland Park.

The press release also furthered the difference of opinion between the Secretary of State’s Office and the Village of Orland Park as to why the office at Frederick T. Owens Village Hall was closed. The Secretary of State’s Office contends that it was because Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau “demanded the Secretary of State’s Office find another location.”

Pekau has previously denied that the Village forced the Secretary of State’s Office to vacate Village Hall and has stated that it was the state agency’s decision to leave.

“I applaud Township Supervisor Paul O’Grady on this agreement, which reaffirms my commitment to the people of Orland Park and the surrounding communities to bring the best possible service to the people in the area,” stated Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White in the press release. “It is unfortunate that the mayor’s actions caused a disruption in local service, but we will move on in bringing convenient services to the people in the southwest suburbs.”

In the press release, White also thanked Illinois State Sen. Bill Cunningham for “helping coordinate the agreement.”

“I want to commend Secretary White and Supervisor [Paul] O’Grady for working to ensure that Orland residents maintain easy access to Secretary of State services,” stated Cunningham in the press release. “Repurposing space in an existing publicly-owned building is a low cost, commonsense solution that protects taxpayer dollars and improves government efficiency.”

The press release stated that an opening date for the new facility will be announced in the “near future.”