Village hires 'one-woman-show' planner

Muse Community + Design to provide boots-on-the-ground assistance

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By Robert J. Lifka

Contributing Reporter

The Forest Park Village Council added another tool to the village's planning toolbox at Monday's meeting, voting 4-0 to hire Muse Community + Design of Chicago for planning services. Commissioner Rachell Entler did not attend.

Muse will supplement the planning services provided by Houseal Lavigne Associates of Chicago, which has worked with the village since 2016.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian explained that Muse's founding principal, Courtney Kashima, will assist Steve Glinke, director of the Department of Public Health and Safety, on an as-needed basis.

"We'll use Muse when a staff member needs questions answered or on smaller issues," he added.

Glinke said while Houseal Lavigne continues to provide "big picture" planning, Muse will be more of a "boots on the ground" planner. "We need both," he said.

Mayor Anthony Calderone noted the village has used outside consultants for planning services for 15 years.

"We're simply hiring outside consulting expertise as we have for years," he said.

Calderone said Houseal Lavigne is more likely to assist the village with the development of a shopping center, whereas Muse is more likely to assist with construction of a new home.

Muse will be paid $95 per hour to assist with project management for new and ongoing developments and redevelopments. The contract takes effect immediately.

Other responsibilities include reviewing new development proposals, attending meetings, and preparing staff memos and other communications regarding new development and redevelopment.

Gillian said Muse and Kashima were recommended, noting that the firm had recently completed a short-term contract with the village of LaGrange.

The firm's website describes Muse as an urban planning and public engagement firm that helps clients "make inspired changes to improve their communities."

Services offered include land use planning, downtown planning, neighborhood planning, corridor planning, master planning and strategic planning as well as zoning, economic development, and public engagement and outreach.

"Muse creates the policies, plans and regulations that enable aspirations to become reality," according to the website. "By employing a people-focused approach, Muse devises realistic, tailored solutions that celebrate communities' unique assets."

Houseal Lavigne, which also works with the villages of Oak Park and River Forest, "provides expertise and experience, ranging from detailed economic analysis to long-term community visioning and strategic planning," according to the firm's website.

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