Harwood Heights community outraged over 'worst Chicago suburb' label

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Do an Internet search ranking Chicago suburbs and you can find hundreds of thousands of postings. But one in particular, a survey conducted by a website based some 600 miles away from Harwood Heights, has outraged the small Chicago community.

Established in 1947, Harwood Heights is home to approximately 85-hundred people, and even at night, this one square-mile suburb looks a lot like Anytown, USA. But according to a recent survey on the website RoadSnacks, Harwood Heights ranks at the very bottom of Chicago suburbs.

“We're not saying Harwood Heights is a terrible place to live but when you look at the unbiased data based on what people say, it is ranked as the worst place in the Chicago area,” said Nick James of RoadSnacks.net.

On Tuesday, FOX 32 met with Harwood Heights Mayor Arlene Jezierny at the newly remodeled Rocko Vino's restaurant, which is one of many businesses the mayor believes could be hurt by the RoadSnacks ranking.

“Any negative implications for a community of our size or any size certainly can hurt our economic development. We are a striving community...it hurt our existing businesses and it hurts our schools,” said Jezierny.

RoadSnacks took aim at the Harwood Heights school system calling it the 2nd worse education scene in the Chicago area. FOX 32 caught up with school superintendent, Mike Maguire, who was outraged.

“I was extremely angry…I'm very proud of this school and this community. Students here are unbelievable...it hurts me but I know this will make us a stronger school and this will make us a stronger community,” Maguire said.

A proud Mayor Jezierny took FOX 32 on a guided bus tour of Harwood Heights, which is a place she's called home since 1960

FOX 32: So let’s talk about the community. You're the mayor, I don't think anybody aspires to be the mayor of a community that they don’t have a great affinity for and a lot of passion for. What is it about this community that you admire the most?

“It’s the people...it's living in a community that everybody helps one another. It's businesses that want to be here that thrive. It's the community and the people that are helping one another whether it's through the school or mentoring programs, whether it's coming together at a festival and everybody's celebrating, its standing firm together as one...I’m just proud of it. It’s a place we truly call our home and it’s something that should not be tarnished,” Mayor Jezierny said.

RoadSnacks told FOX 32 they meant no malice, but they stand behind the ranking. Mayor Jezierny says she understands that websites often get more clicks by going negative, but that rankings like these hurt nonetheless.

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