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Village satisfied with Taser

It was with my own sense of shock that I read your Nov. 8 editorial “Shock treatment.” With the slimmest of “evidence” to back up its position, the Forest Park Review proposes eliminating the Taser from the Forest Park Police arsenal. The fact is, the Taser is a proven and valuable law enforcement tool.

Oddly, the Forest Park Review appeared to base its entire case against the Taser upon two isolated incidents nationwide, and upon one non-expert opinion. That opinion, from one member of the Oak Park police department, is of absolutely no relevance to Forest Park. Oak Park is one of the few communities in Illinois that does not employ the Taser. Most do.

That’s because the Taser works-it decreases officer injuries, suspect injuries, and lethal force incidents. Significantly, the show of force itself is usually enough to bring a situation under control. And it has saved lives. The village of Forest Park Police Department exercises great care in investigating and training before it deploys new technology. Our rare, but necessary use of the Taser is no exception.

Also troubling about the editorial was the failure to identify alternatives to the Taser. Would the public be better served if the police employed the use of firearms alone? Would a baton be any less dangerous if it found its mark on a suspect’s skull? Perhaps pepper spray, with its history of causing numerous fatalities through respiratory arrest–as well as at least one stampede-is a more palatable option? Is hand-to-hand combat a viable alternative–an option in which a suspect could injure an officer or take his or her gun, or break free to escape justice and possibly commit a crime another day? The use of the Taser is a serious issue, and it has received very serious attention from law enforcement and public administration professionals here in Forest Park.

And that brings up the most objectionable line in the editorial–that according to the Review, “it has become difficult to take officers at their word.” Disparaging every member of an entire department is wholly unwarranted, and makes a difficult job that much more strained. The many fine officers of the Forest Park Police Department are dedicated public servants. They deserve our support and our respect; they should certainly not all be held out to the public as untrustworthy.

I welcome the fair scrutiny that the local press brings to bear upon the affairs of the village of Forest Park. But with that scrutiny, a strong measure of responsibility attaches. The public should rest assured that the village of Forest Park employs professional, highly trained men and women who serve and protect the residents and businesses that call Forest Park home.

Michael J. Sturino
Village administrator

Proposal illogical

Perhaps they were angry because they only found out about it Monday night.

When was the village going to let owners and the rest of Forest Park know about the plans? After it was already decided? Six homes to be destroyed for only 55 parking spaces. Does it solve the problem? No.

Although we are not residents of Forest Park, we were making plans to move there. We have two daughters who, with their families, reside in Forest Park. One lives on Thomas and another on Marengo, both near Madison Street.

We will put these plans on hold for a while since the mayor has said, “It’s clear that a majority of the council does not favor building a parking garage.” Who do they represent if not the people of Forest Park? Why not put it to a vote? What is wrong with the corner of Madison and Desplaines? It is a big eyesore and a parking garage there would help businesses west of Desplaines.

Many businesses moved to Forest Park from Oak Park. Are they going to make the same mistake that Oak Park made and build surface lots only to find out that they needed the amount of spaces that only a garage could provide? How many residents’ homes close to Madison will be torn down for more, but not quite enough, parking spaces?

Carol Frank
River Forest

Give thanks

In recent years, and especially this year, I have been quite disturbed over the lack of attention we as a society have been giving to Thanksgiving Day. In fact, if it wasn’t for the calendar, I might have to be reminded of its existence, because I certainly don’t see it.

Just in case anyone has forgotten, Thanksgiving represents a wonderful opportunity for all of us. It is a time when we can say thank you for who we are and what we have. We might also say thank you for our loved ones. It is a time to reflect upon the freedom we have to express ourselves. Perhaps we could even say Thank You to those who came over to form the original colonies that gave us this custom in the first place.

I plan to celebrate Thanksgiving as I always have, taking time to say thank you for the things that matter to me. I encourage everyone else to do the same.

Teresa Meyer
Forest Park

Why weren’t we told?

How is it that Forest Park Village Administrator Michael Sturino was able to present a review of the new village parking proposal at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Nov. 14 at Kevil’s that includes a planned eminent domain seizure of nine Forest Park homes, yet none of the homeowners were notified that the vote on the seizure by the mayor and the village board was planned for Nov. 13?

Let’s read that again: The businesses were notified, but residents whose homes stand to be seized to make parking lots were not!

How dare the mayor try to sneak the seizure of resident’s homes through a series of closed-door sessions as if the owners of those properties and other residents were irrelevant? It is patently unfair to expect those affected homeowners to shoulder the financial burden of a marginal sales tax revenue increase for the rest of the village. It was stated by the board at last night’s meeting that the village has $2 million in the parking fund. This means they don’t have the money to pay market prices for the homes. They intend to skewer these residents.

Also stated by the village attorney to Commissioner Steinbach was the fact that the village has no intention of paying moving expenses, or reimbursing homeowners who face higher mortgage rates for 30 years as a result of their actions.

For you who are interested in the math, one extra percentage point of interest on a $150,000 mortgage for 30 years equals $23,865. That’s what each displaced resident can expect to pay if they can’t match their current rates. Per point. Rates have gone up lately. Priced housing stock? Values went up as well. These residents, each one, will have their homes taken, be forced to relocate, and be financially penalized for 30 years.

So we can park a block closer to the antique store.

This because Mayor Anthony Calderone refuses to utilize other available parking solutions, and there are several. Just because you hired a consultant, Mr. Mayor, doesn’t mean we are obligated to adhere to the first suggestions we see. Try again and maybe you won’t have to screw innocent residents out of their hard-earned homes and property.

I urge all Forest Park residents to come to the aid of our neighbors. Call village hall. Attend the meeting on Monday, Nov. 27. I can tell you this: Elections are coming up in March and I won’t be voting for the bloodless, sarcastic and unsympathetic mayor I witnessed at last night’s board meeting. Your display made me ill. Maybe we can get those families out of there by Christmas, eh?

Jay Henry
Forest Park

YMCA pitch warrants input

I was more than a little surprised when I saw the headline in last week’s Review that the YMCA at Altenheim seemed like a done deal. I felt a little better when I read that it was mainly wishful enthusiasm by the West Cook Young Men’s Christian Association of Oak Park, but it did get me to wondering how negotiations have gotten this far without any public input. I made a few inquiries and found out that this potential deal has been the mayor’s own project since the beginning.

I personally am a product of the YMCA while growing up. My siblings and I learned to swim there; I got my lifesaving credentials there and spent countless happy hours on the ping-pong and bumper pool tables. These worthwhile activities would still be offered by a new YMCA today.

My wife Gloria and I went up to Palatine and toured the Buehler YMCA (it has a climbing wall but I’ll stick to bumper pool). It is an impressive place and something similar might be a nice fit for Forest Park, but we must remember that the YMCA is “not for profit,” and if we commit to it, we will never receive any tax dollars.

Since the village bought the 11 acre Altenheim, I have heard many people express their wishes for the property. I recall one person wanted a nature conservancy, another wanted a par 3 golf course, still another, a performing arts center, single family homes (that is what the property is zoned for) or simply a wonderful, wide open park. It kind of reminded me of hearing people’s lottery fantasies.

What deeply concerns me is that the mayor has not asked us, the citizens and owners of Altenheim, if this is what we want for one of our Crown Jewels. Why so hush hush?

Since being in power, the mayor has called many public meetings on a variety of important issues: The Comprehensive Plan, the library, the downtown parking study, the development at the Roos and a number of neighborhood crime meetings. Why not the Altenheim? In fact, what the citizens ultimately want may be worthy of a ballot referendum? Some would even say it is the “Christian” thing to do.

Steven Backman
Forest Park

Reconsider parking proposal

In regards to some of the columns written in our Forest Park Review, I read some of these reports about our town, our police dept. and all of the gossip. I believe the focus of our paper has not been on the proper people. There have been articles written about our officers and their lack of judgment, and abuse of power. I have yet to read an article about our town’s leader’s lack of judgment and abuse of power. The specific thing I am referring to is the willingness, of our beloved mayor and trusted commissioners to try to take over people’s property without regards for the disruption and affects that it will cause to its hard working citizens. All for the grand agenda of creating a wonderful parking lot for people to park.

Did they think this through? Do we really want to have that reputation as a town? People do not buy houses on a whim, there’s hard earned money, and pride that go into buying your first house, or living in one place for a long amount of time. I for one am not against a two tier parking garage; we have a vacant lot on Des Plaines and Madison.

I urge you to come up with a new plan, this one would leave a bad taste in our mouths not only for the owners of these houses, but for those of us who feel its just wrong to take something so valued from someone for the sake of a few more cars in a lined parking spot, in a lot.

Maureen and Carlos Vilanova
Forest Park

Garage is viable

The use of surface parking is the most inefficient use of space and is the start of having Forest park look like Schaumburg; a waste land of parking lots. There are three village lots south of Madison Street that could be enlarged enough with the acquisition of just one lot each to build parking structures.

Using the four-story and 50 feet height limit from the BID (Business Improvement District) it is possible to build a three or four level parking structure. Apparent height could be reduced by placing the first level partly below grade, commercial space could be included on the street side at street level to provide income for maintenance and debt retirement, and a facade added that would replicate the traditional look of Madison Street with residential over commercial.

Also the $90,000 price per spot seems high.

I hope that the village takes a longer and more creative look at solutions for the parking problem and what long term effect each one will have.

Richard D. Scafidi
Forest Park