NEW LENOX — Residents of New Lenox will soon have the opportunity to reap rewards for showing local pride while their village earns money along the way.
By next month, the village plans to launch an online, points-based reward program to promote civic involvement and advocacy for local activities and businesses.
The village expects to sign a contract at the end of the month with Chicago-based start-up BondingPoint to set up a New Lenox page at InOur.Community. The online platform will allow residents to promote village awareness, events and businesses through social media and accrue points to bid on rewards.
Two weeks ago, the Village of Orland Park was the first Chicago suburb to launch this program for residents.
There will be no cost to the village, which will eventually receive a percentage of the site's advertising revenue, according to BondingPoint CEO John Calzaretta.
Calzaretta, an Orland Park resident, presented the proposal to an enthusiastic board at its regular meeting Monday.
"InOur.Community is a civic engagement solution which ties all facets of the community together," Calzaretta said.
Once residents enroll in the program for free, they can earn points for participating in surveys, dining and shopping locally, attending local events, as well as raising awareness of village issues and promoting village/resident achievements and local events on Facebook and Twitter.
Points can be used on rewards that the village could offer, or that sponsors might donate. This could include restaurant gift cards, VIP access to parking for events, free event tickets or exclusive experiences, such as lighting the village Christmas tree or heading a local parade.
Since the venture is new, Calzaretta said the first 10 municipalities to sign on can do so for free and receive a share of the advertising dollars earned after an initial recovery of $36,000 by BondingPoint to cover expenses.
Site advertising will be low-cost, at $80 per month, he said.
Calzaretta assured that all data received from participating residents will be the property of the village and that demographics would be used anonymously to sell advertising.
"It's a great concept and an opportunity to make revenue to reinvest in our community," said Mayor Timothy Baldermann.
Although there is no fee involved, the village has to approve a formal contract, which it is expected to do at its Feb. 23 meeting.
Calzaretta said the page would open within a week of the contract approval.
Development proposals head toward approval
In other business, the village is also expected to approve, at its next meeting, two new development proposals, which were reviewed Monday night.
One ordinance the board is considering is for a special use permit to tear down the blighted Mobil gas station east of Walmart on US Route 30 and build two new retail buildings.
The new owner of the property, vacant for many years, plans to build one 4,000-square-foot building to house one tenant and one 5,000-square-foot building to house two or three tenants.
At Baldermann's request, the village will include a provision to tear down the station within 60 days of approval. "We want that down. That has been an eyesore for a long time," he said.
Baldermann also said the village will make clear to the owners that any further permit approvals will hinge on whether they hire local workers for the project instead of bringing in "cheap labor" from other states.
Separately, the board is considering annexation of a 40-acre property at Interstate 355 and Summerfield Drive, which is part of unincorporated Homer Township. Gompers-Lewis, LLC has also filed a petition for the northern part of the property to be re-zoned as a single-family residential district and the southern part, which falls under New Lenox Township, to be rezoned for commercial use.
Once approval is received, the owners will need to provide a concept plan for approval before moving forward.
• This article has been updated to correct the spelling of the last name of BondingPoint CEO John Calzaretta and to change the amount of initial recover by BondingPoint to $36,000. The Herald-News regrets the errors.