By Jean Lotus
Forest Park Public Works Director John Doss said Tuesday that used traffic guard rails are installed on a case-by-case basis in Forest Park, if residents can prove damage to their fences or property.
Some residents were peeved when they noticed a guard rail installed by five public works employees on June 25 to protect Mayor Anthony Calderone's fence at Jackson Boulevard and Thomas Avenue.
"Every time I get a request, I go to the house and take a look at the damage," Doss said.
A Freedom of Information request made by the Forest Park Review revealed that Calderone made a report about a vehicle crashing into the west side of his fence sometime on May 14. Police estimated damage to be $1,000. Another police report from 2008 showed that an unknown vehicle struck the fence on Dec. 18. No damage assessment was given.
Doss said the mayor requested the guard rail installed next to his fence. Doss said the village has a pile of used guard rails in storage — left over from the St. John's School parking lot, which has now been converted into a community garden west of the school.
"Any guard rail I put up has been donated from the St. John's side yard," Doss said. "We've got a pile of them lying around."
He said he installed two in the past couple years — one at the T-intersection at 16th Street and Circle Avenue, where cars have ploughed into the guard rail, and one in the 800 block of Circle Avenue , where residents showed him damage to a fence.
"If somebody calls, I'll go over and do anything for anybody," he said. "I've never said no."
Sometimes a guard rail won't work, because of utility or traffic flow issues, Doss said.
"If that's the case, we cut an old light pole and fill it with cement and put that in."
Doss said a second guard rail near a Calderone-linked property at 1134 Circle Ave. was installed a year and a half ago. He can't remember who requested the guard rail, but he noted that the apartment building parking lot across the alley has a sloping driveway that can get slippery during winter.
Doss, who called the Review while on vacation, said he imagined he'd get a lot of requests for guard rails now.
"I understand everyone's going to want one, and it'll be opening up a can of worms," he said. "There will probably be a process going forward. I never thought this would be such a hot topic."
"If I can help anyone, I will."