More focused development strategy needed
Spring will bring another season of home improvement to Forest Park. It also reminds me to revisit the current state of Forest Park’s enigmatic community development process. Status quo advocates and their skeptics will promote dogmas from a widening array of special interests. There coexists an official and an unofficial process that only recently has become more apparent to be headed on a collision course.
As a design professional and trained observer I see the process made up of these characteristics. This playing field is made up as of residents, developers, local business, local government bureaucracy, stake holders, power players, and a theoretical Comprehensive Plan. Given this mix, these dynamics have created fragmented results that too often are confusing and misdirected. Just because we are a modest community, are low expectations and mediocre new development the best we can collectively produce?
The most disturbing fundamental missing is the communication between the regulatory boards on up to the Village Council and Mayor. New and progressive planning and development strategies are routinely ignored and under prioritized. Today one can only speculate as to the general development/planning philosophies of our Village Council. At a meeting I had with Mayor Calderone last October regarding historic preservation and community development, he indicated that our local government had a limited role and in the future, that role might defer the new development lead back to the private sector.
This is a new position that is due in part to greater interest and scrutiny by local citizens. When unopposed and unobserved the last decade left us with a lot of government sanctioned development. The community paid the price and received development that was driven by special interest, influence peddling, and at times politically flavored. This is a random process that is not community centered. By doing this does the present administration dodge accountability? Blame the commission form of government, but that can be changed politically.
If the local citizenry are willing to expand their role as empowered stakeholders then it is essential to be introduced to these concepts. TND, or Traditional Neighborhood Development, works. It’s an inclusive process that celebrates the strengths of analyzing existing old traditional building methods and plans and transposing that data to new codes. It also champions community interaction in the process. It is one many tools we do not use. It deserves to be explored. It was a welcome surprise that this school of thought, its architects and leadership are among the primary influencers and developers that are charged to rebuild New Orleans.
See you in the neighborhood and good luck to all who celebrate vintage homes.
Thank you to the voters
I would like to thank the voters of the 7th District for sending me back to Springfield for my fourth term as State Representative. It is both humbling and challenging to know that more than 70 percent of my constituents chose me once again as their state representative. That mandate validates my effective leadership, hard work, and integrity. I want voters to know I appreciate the confidence that you have shown in me. We both know it is the people’s seat and I am just honored to be chosen as your voice to state government.
I am equally overwhelmed to be elected the first female Proviso Township Democratic Committeeman. Your vote affirms my belief that the people truly want government that serves the community, that has integrity, and that represents the wishes of its constituents. Together Proviso Democrats will be a unified, democratic body of individuals from Brookfield to Northlake with all stops in between being represented in an assemblage of Democrats that will work together in the general election to maximize our turnout.
I value the opinion of the people and, on March 21, the people decided that I am the kind of elected official that they trust to make our communities better. There is nothing more sacred in my mind than fulfilling commitments made to the people. I promise all of you in the 7th District and in Proviso Township that I will continue to provide leadership, accountability, integrity and accessibility. Once again, I will be the people’s representative.
Karen A. Yarbrough