The addition of Starbucks to Madison Commons certainly makes a strong statement of how far Forest Park has come in recent years. Though the lettering outside is still green, this is not another Irish pub. It is a chain that over the years has somehow come to symbolize a neighborhood’s arrival on the local and national radar.

It’s presence on Madison will help create an image of Forest Park as a destination point for Chicagoans and suburbanites who might have overlooked the village in favor of larger suburbs or hipper urban neighborhoods. It might even make prospective residents feel more secure about the idea of moving into town, as many will likely see Starbucks as a sign that Forest Park is a stable, even booming area.

Still, it is not exactly unusual to have a Starbucks in town ” thousands of other villages nationwide can make the same claim. The coffee shop’s presence means that the village has caught up with, rather than surpassed, surrounding towns.

The potential acquisition of the West Cook YMCA from neighboring Oak Park gives the village the opportunity to truly take it to the next level.

While Starbucks might attract passerbys to the area, a state of the art YMCA would be a reason for families to settle here permanently. It would make the village a more vibrant place to live by bringing with it a steady stream of events and attractions.

By giving kids a place to go after school, it would also cut back on the village’s gang problem and the loitering at village parks which has become a regular complaint from residents.

It would set Forest Park apart from other communities and make it a central destination for the near west suburbs, and would serve as an ideal use of the Altenheim property.

We strongly hope that village officials will do all that is necessary to see to it that this one does not fall through the cracks while of course ensuring that the facility leads to minimal traffic concerns and other possible inconveniences.

Don’t forget Proviso East

With much of District 209’s money and attention tied up in the new Proviso Math and Science Academy, the Review and many others have expressed concerns that Proviso East (and West) are being neglected.

Now that board President Chris Welch is running for state representative, these concerns have been magnified. It seems like everyone at District 209 is preoccupied with something other than fixing the failing school, which already attracts a minimal number of Forest Parkers.

Of course, Welch is free to pursue his ambitions, and he says he intends to bring an educational focus to the job if elected as state rep.

We hope he does not also bring with him the controversy, paranoia and disdain for differing opinions that he has shown at D209.

It is highly doubtful that all of Welch’s critics are all part of some shady, well-planned plot against him. That type of organization is usually reserved for someone a bit higher up than a school board president.

Welch will, at some point, have to acknowledge his critics and respond to their concerns with something other than “they’re out to get me” and “they did it too.”