Crosswalk would improve safety

As a resident of Forest Park, I wonder why there isn’t a clearly marked crosswalk allowing both Forest Park and River Forest pedestrians a safe manner in which to cross Lathrop when coming from Hawthorne, or vice versa. Because Hawthorne is one block north of Brown Avenue, pedestrians are constantly put in the path of danger from cars heading north and south on Lathrop, and turning from, or onto Brown Avenue. There is a stop sign on Central Avenue, but drivers seem to take it more as a suggestion, rather then a directive. The cars come shooting through the viaduct on Lathrop literally bumper to bumper.

Woe to the pedestrian who doesn’t have the patience of waiting the roughly five minutes during the rush hour period to make a rabbit’s dash across Lathrop.

Attempting to cross this intersection is nothing short of taking one’s life in one’s hand every day. A real life version of the ’80s video game “Frogger,” wherein a frog attempted to traverse a dangerous road or stream, attempting to avoid becoming smashed by any number of dangers.

There is no discernable crosswalk to speak of. There is no crosswalk between Hawthorne and Lathrop, because Hawthorne ends at Lathrop. Essentially, a pedestrian who would want to get to their home on Brown Avenue or Circle Avenue, etc., needs to walk south on Lathrop then make a mad dash across Lathrop at Brown Avenue, hoping they don’t become road kill.

Because I live on the north side of Brown Avenue, when coming from the River Forest Metra station I walk east on Hawthorne, and then have to choose whether I want to walk north on Lathrop out of my way and under the viaduct to Central Avenue, (where the cars don’t ever come to a complete and full stop), make the mad dash eastbound across Lathrop there, and then proceed once again under the viaduct to Brown Avenue. Truly a circuitous route.

Or heading east on Hawthorne, I continue south at Lathrop, make the mad dash cross Lathrop at Brown Avenue, then attempt to cross Brown Avenue at Lathrop heading north, hoping that the cars that do not slow down from Lathrop when turning on to Brown Avenue heading eastbound, don’t kill me.

So I ask you Forest Park Review, please investigate why my fellow commuters and I must take our lives in our hands everyday just to get to and from work. I would like to see a collaborative effort between Forest Park and River Forest to address this dangerous area before it is too late.

Daniel Messick
Forest Park

Village wins with project’s defeat

On Monday, Sept. 11, there were two items before the village council regarding zoning and development: 1) Approval to demolish two single-family/two-flat homes at 504 and 508 Elgin Avenue and replace with eight four-story town homes, and 2) a motion instructing the village attorney to write an ordinance for rezoning the east side of the 400 and 500 blocks of Elgin Avenue from R-3 to R-2 (the west side is zoned R-1).

I would like to commend our village council for casting two important votes in favor of preserving the character that makes our village great. Some, including Commissioner Hosty, who cast the lone vote in favor of the developer on both items, may have viewed this solely as an issue of density. It is encouraging to see that four out of our five elected officials had the vision to see past statistical references and consider the impact this proposed development would have on our neighborhood. It reinforces my desire to live and serve in Forest Park when our village council sends a clear message to the development community that we not only deserve better planning and design, we demand it.

As we embark on an election season that many predict will be very contentious, let’s remember that, if only for one night, our village council stood up, almost unanimously, and put the residents of Forest Park first.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, I challenged the members of the council to make their decision based upon “what is in the best interest for the village of Forest Park.” I congratulate them for answering that challenge with a vote that placed importance on the long-term growth and development of our community.

Thank you Mayor Calderone and commissioners Doolin, Gillian, and Steinbach. Your leadership and courage are greatly appreciated.

John Plepel
Forest Park

Townhouse project no good for village

Dear, Commissioner Hosty, I am sorry to say that I am disappointed in your vote in favor of the development plan proposed by Cherryfield and against the rezoning of the 400 and 500 blocks of Elgin. It seems that you give greater importance and priority to out of town developers than to your fellow Forest Parkers. Cherryfield will still be able to develop the 504 and 508 sites under the R-2 zoning and make lots of money doing so. Cherryfield has made tons of money from this town so don’t feel sorry for him. Yes, property owners should be able to do what they want with their properties but with the community in mind. That is why we have zoning codes and laws. I hope this whole episode serves to move the village toward adapting the five or six tiered zoning system that accounts for and includes greater flexibility and a more appropriate reflection of the character and nature of the existing structures.

If a block is primarily residential, why on earth would it be zoned R-3? There is no logic in that.

There have been many changes in the village in the last five years since the comprehensive plan was compiled. The pace of change and development has been very rapid and is in every corner of the village. I think we as a village and community need to slow down and assess where we are and where we are going in a deliberate and logical way. Looking at the recommendations made by the comprehensive plan is a good place to start. Development is good as long as it fits and enhances our village’s “friendly, small town charm” character and remains a place where people will want to live and raise their families.

Kathy Kucia
Forest Park

Candidate’s message confusing

I have just read (with considerable horror) the letter from Dr. Negale T. Jackson, in the Sept. 13 issue of the Forest Park Review. I will be the very first to support a citizen’s right to free speech, but I am at a loss when the speaker is unable to make his/her point due to the fact that the language used bears little, if any, resemblance to any known language. It is truly a sad state of affairs when one who claims to be an educated person with “several advance [sic] degrees, like for instance [sic] a Ph.D. in international law from National Conference of Black Lawyer [sic] Community College of Law,” cannot in any acceptable way utilize his native language. This, to me, negates any credibility that person might be lent upon hearing their views.

I should at this time inform the reader that I have investigated the claims that “Dr.” Jackson has made about his alleged academic background, and found them apparently (some of them, at least) to be patently unsubstantiated. The only doctoral program offered by LaSalle University is in the field of psychology, and there seems to be no information available whatsoever about the alleged “National Conference of Black Lawyers Community College of Law.”

The language of his letter seems to intentionally obfuscate the fact that there is little to no substance contained within. The gist that I am able to infer from such a poorly written diatribe is that what “Dr.” Jackson really wants for the community is exactly what Mayor Calderone has devoutly fought to provide while in office-a safe and prosperous community, where all citizens are treated fairly. It might behoove “Dr.” Jackson to meet with Mayor Calderone, as well as other citizens and officials, and it might surprise him to find out that the very issues to which he appears to object are the very issues being addressed by the current administration, and in this resident’s humble opinion, quite well. There is a concerted effort currently to minimize crime and gang activity in our neighborhoods. There is a very active neighborhood watch organization, as well as increased police presence.

As to the issue of lower- and middle-income families being “problematic to the quintessence administration” (whatever that means), this is an issue in every community. No matter what we do, or who is elected mayor, this is not a situation that can be remedied by any local administration. This is a deep-seated societal problem that can really be addressed only in the home. It is every parent’s responsibility to ensure the education of his/her offspring. This includes not only their schooling, but their civic and community education, as well. This responsibility lies not with the community, not with the government-but solely with the parents. If the parent is not committed to this precept, they have no grounds to complain about the failure of any aspect of the greater society with respect to their ability to advance. Education of this nature is never dependent upon income. It is dependent upon parental interaction with one’s children. That costs nothing.

In conclusion, I would remind “Dr.” Jackson that democracy “inculcates” nothing. Please consult an English dictionary. Democracy is a gift. It means, simply, that each of us is lucky enough to have the freedom to vote our own minds. For that, I give immeasurable thanks that I have the freedom to vote for the best candidate possible. In the Forest Park mayoral race, “Dr.” Jackson, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, that candidate is not you.

Edwin Wald
Forest Park

Low-density zoning is best

Congratulations are in order for the mayor and commissioners Steinbach, Gillian and Doolin for their votes at the Sept. 11, 2006, village council meeting. They voted to deny developments proposed for 504 and 508 Elgin. In addition they voted to move forward with a change toward lower density zoning for those streets.

Each of these votes is a very positive step. Let’s hope they indicate the beginning of a formalized process in the village toward slowing high-density building in the downtown area, and moving towards better preservation of the unique qualities of our remaining classic neighborhoods.

All development should be carefully weighed not only for its potential immediate economic benefit, but also measuring the long-term effect the development would have on our quality of life, its effect on village resources and its impact on the preservation of the unique charm of the village.

Unfortunately, Commissioner Hosty’s minority votes on these two matters were not positive. His votes can be seen as an endorsement of uncontrolled density, and of favoring the rights of developers over the rights of citizens. This is not good for the village, neither economically, socially nor in many ways spiritually. Failing to measure and evaluate each development proposal for its impact on our village’s services threatens a way of life that values family, human interaction and community.

It is not simply a question of a purchaser of a property having rights to do with it what they want. No homeowner is afforded that right; neither should a developer. Each of us lives in a community, and developers buy properties that exist in communities.

I encourage our leaders to continue to use these factors as a measure of all future development proposals for the village. Further, I encourage Commissioner Hosty to reconsider his point of view, and in the future to vote in favor of slowed development, reduced density and increased preservation of the unique qualities of our remaining classic neighborhoods.

It is possible that the village could face a legal challenge on these issues. If so, the village and its attorneys deserve our encouragement to launch a vigorous defense. The comprehensive plan clearly supports the zoning change, and requiring developers to meet basic requirements for the good of the community is clearly in the best interests of the majority of the village’s citizens.

Liz Chilsen
Forest Park