The Village of Oak Park | 123 Madison St.  Oak Park, IL 60302 |

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Melton prepares for retirement

Jan. 6, 2023 - A trip to pay a parking ticket 22 years ago led to a career as the unofficial diplomat for the Village of Oak Park, as Community Relations Director Cedric Melton plans for his retirement on Jan. 10.

While standing in line to pay for his ticket, Melton read the job board and saw a posting for a Neighborhood Programs Manager job with duties that matched his experience creating programs to improve relations between residents and government. Excited at the prospect to be closer to his daughter who was attending OPRF High School, he applied and started working in Oak Park in July 2001.

His first day at work he was faced with a protestor who chained herself high up in a tree on Madison Street to protest the Village’s removal of diseased trees. Melton climbed up the tree and convinced this person to safely leave. He quickly earned a reputation as a mediator and unofficial ambassador for the Village in contentious situations.

With an extensive background in social work and counseling, Melton moved his way up to department director and helped to create programs that targeted unique problems within neighborhood zones in the Village. A lasting example was a block that was having problems with teens disrupting the neighborhood. Melton worked with the teens, their parents and other neighbors to create a Youth Employment Program that mentored teens on how to obtain jobs. The program continues to this day.

Melton said he is impressed with Oak Park’s commitment to working out issues with people. While there remain equity issues that need to be addressed within the Village, he noted the commitment by leadership to continued funding for programs to help ensure fair housing and better relations with landlords and residents.

Melton said he will miss all his coworkers but sent a special shout-out to Media Manager Joe Kreml, with whom he has made hundreds of videos about the Village, many winning national awards. See below for a video compilation that gives a small glimpse of the variety of videos featuring Melton.

An Oak Park resident, Melton said he will remain in town but is planning to travel to help his younger sister as she opens a new restaurant in Minneapolis. The restaurant is a tribute to his late mother, who was an amazing cook and also a social worker. She inspired him to give back and to help others.