At what might have been seen as an uneventful meeting, the Village Council Monday night managed to lay to rest several of Forest Park’s pressing issues. The council approved the coming year’s fiscal budget, allowed for a variance to be granted for the highly publicized Roos cellular tower, agreed to a contract with contractor Christopher Burke, LLC., and restricted Madison Street to two hour parking Monday through Saturday.
After approving a resolution to dispense more funds, $291,520 to be exact, to several village departments, the council unanimously agreed to the fiscal plan covering the period which began May 1, 2005.
The council also addressed a nagging issue which had been heavily debated and discussed. The council agreed to construction of a 100-foot cellular tower at 744 Hannah. The variance was granted under the condition that there would only be one tower built on the property, that the tower would not obstruct the face of any billboard and that once the development of the Roos property at 743 Hannah is completed the tower would be relocated to its former location.
With its Village Improvement Project (VIP) nearly ready to go, the council approved a contract with Christopher Burke Engineering to oversee Phase I of the plan. The contract, which includes both oversight and the actual cost of the work, totaled $5,902,226.
The contract was only agreed upon after Commissioner Theresa Steinbach, Village Administrator Michael Sturino and Village Attorney Michael Durkin suggested some contractual changes. While no major changes were made to the contract, language was changed to allow the village to hold back monies if the contractor did not live up to promised services.
The issue causing the most discussion was Mayor Anthony Calderone’s attempt to adopt several policies he said would help the village address its fiscal management, village services, community and economic development and cash management.
Steinbach sounded off on the wording in several areas of the policy, so much so that she apologized to the council saying, “Sorry, it’s the computer science in me. I need words that are quantifiers and have specific meanings.”
Steinbach was very critical of wording regarding the village setting fees for direct and indirect usage of water and sewers. She felt that it was in direct opposition to what the council had decided at the previous meeting, when they opted to defer on a decision to increase water fees for the village.
Calderone said that often the council is “reluctant to spend more money” because they are worried about the public’s opinion. He said ongoing flooding is a consequence of a dual sewer system that needs to be fixed. He adamantly told the council that the village will “never, ever, ever, never” be able to fully fix that problem because “to do it correctly would be a huge undertaking that would cost over $50 million.”
He asked the council to understand that funds need to start being accumulated sometime in the near future so that when sewer problems arise the village will be prepared.
Steinbach found other fault with the document’s word choices including “adequate,” “safety” and “promote.” She said her definitions of these words might differ from their definitions and asked for the policy to be more specific.
When approached about what she would recommend in place of those problem words Steinbach said she was unsure.
“I picked this document up on Saturday morning because it wasn’t done until Friday night; I need more time to review these types of documents because there is so much,” she said. “I have no suggestions right now but with more time I can come up with several.”
Commissioner Mark Hosty added that in his mind the policies are a basic guideline or a framework for village employees. Calderone agreed with Hosty and said the document could be approached and reworded at any future time. The council proceeded to unanimously pass the ordinance.
The council concluded the night by addressing a parking issue on Madison Street. Previously Madison had parking signs that read ‘2 hour parking Monday through Saturday’ but the village code only allowed for such regulations to be enforced Monday through Friday. The ordinance that the council passed amended the code so that the restriction would be stretched until Saturday.
Calderone explained the goal to the council by saying, “Basically we’re voting to not have to take down and change all the signs on Madison Street.”