A stop sign request

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Seems like there might be a need for an additional stop sign on Jackson at Hannah — over by Garfield School. A group of parents is passing a petition calling for more traffic control in a spot where kids, some of them preschool-aged, are being dropped off for school. 

Seems like a sincere effort and a reasonable request for consideration. The parents were reportedly getting ready to petition the village government's Safety and Traffic Commission for a hearing. That seems logical, too.

What follows is something of a muddle, in a way that social media sometimes adds to more than it clarifies. 

Sally Cody, a staffer at village hall, jumped onto the Facebook thread and reported the Safety and Traffic Commission had just cancelled its November meeting. Later Mayor Anthony Calderone joined in and told the earnest group that the commission only accepts topics to review after the mayor and village council give them direction to take up a topic.

The school district made a bland comment to our reporter about its role, or lack thereof, in matters outside of its buildings. Even, it seems, on so vital a matter of whether their young charges arrive safely.

Many of the parents seemed miffed by this bureaucratic hoop-jumping in so small a town. 

Time for a meeting. Time to get off social media and around a table. The mayor, the school board president, the school superintendent, the village administrator, the parents.

Listen to some personal worries of parents. Explain processes of how matters get referred to commissions and possible timelines. Raise flags, if any, about the proximity of four-way stops along Jackson and its possible impact on traffic flow. Demonstrate that, while village government and the school district are separate bodies with distinct roles, they share concerns about kids and value working together.

It has happened before. In 2013, traffic control measures around Garfield School were changed substantially at the urging of parents and with a collaborative effort by officials.  That explains the one-way traffic on Hannah during school hours. 

Yes, things can move faster due to social media. That's OK. But the instinct to listen and respond ought to be the same.

Watch your car

Police Chief Tom Aftanas and Village Administrator Tim Gillian are right. Auto thefts and carjackings are a plague and the disease is spreading right now into suburban communities, including Forest Park, Oak Park and River Forest. 

Most concerning are the carjackings. Four have been reported so far in 2017 in the village, the most in memory. Most of these incidents happen in auto service businesses along Harlem because, as Gillian points out, the escape route to the Eisenhower is almost immediate.

Time to get the antennae up. Never leave your car running. Not for a minute. Not to get coffee from the gas station. Not while you are washing the windows. Opportunistic thieves are watching. 

This is not a Forest Park problem. But it is a problem happening in Forest Park. Be watchful.

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