Forest Park and the Ike

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Still years away but with a process that has been grinding on for years already, Forest Park Village Council members will be asked next week to sign on in support of the eventual rebuilding of the Eisenhower Expressway by the state.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian notes that 2023 is the soonest the from-the-dirt-up rebuild of the nearly 60-year-old highway could get started. 

First, that will be here before we know it. And second, there isn't an infrastructure project that will have more impact on various aspects of day-to-day life in Forest Park than this project.

We're not just talking asphalt here. 

The rebuild will add two lanes to the highway through town while staying within the current ditch. The left-hand entry and exit at Harlem will disappear and be replaced by safer but more locally impactful/unsightly right-hand points of entry and exit. The Blue Line will be rebuilt concurrently. The always tangled confluence of the CTA terminus, the Desplaines highway entrance and commuter parking will be rethought and remade. And bridges at Harlem, Circle and Desplaines will, thankfully, be widened to include broader sidewalks and bike lanes.

This doesn't cover the multi-year disruption of construction that will be real and disruptive. And the village government will need to come up with funding for its relatively small but still significant piece of the action.

The village attorney told the council recently that the action of signing on is less about binding future councils to specifics than to indicate that the Illinois Department of Transportation has been diligent in gaining concurrence from stakeholders.

There's a lot to like about this plan to date. Staying in the ditch while adding lanes is at the top of that list. We'd have preferred to see concrete action to extend the CTA el line to at least Mannheim Road. 

But the Ike isn't going to fix itself and Forest Park has done a more than fair job of watching out for the interests of its residents as this massive project approaches.

St. John at 150

Few are the institutions that survive to 150. And virtually none survive that have not grown and shrunk, overcome jarring challenges, benefitted from generosity and good fortune (answered prayers, if you prefer), actively adapted and evolved with grace.

This fall Forest Park celebrates as St. John Lutheran Church marks 150 years of true service to this village. That service has changed from early days when St. John was a welcoming home to immigrant and second-generation German American Lutherans. Today, with a congregation that has grown smaller and a handsome school that has closed, St. John continues to actively seek and create its new role of service to Forest Park. 

Partnerships and alliances are welcomed and essential as new hubs of activity are fostered. The recent pact with the local YMCA, the hosting of a community garden, the long affiliation with Housing Forward all indicate a confident and holy place moving toward its next milestone.

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