The rebirth of Forest Park lives and dies on the success of its downtown shopping district, and no one can argue that Madison Street hasn’t carried the village into better times.
With each new store that opens, the future of this community brightens.
A proposal to foster this growth and ultimately spur the village along has become an emotionally charged and, dare we say, political hot potato. On Dec. 11 the village council is expected to vote on a plan to add some 50 parking spaces to the downtown.
This action has already been delayed twice and it is unnecessary to prolong the decision any further. Commissioners, with all the sympathy and respect due those being asked to move from their homes, we urge you to approve this measure.
To expand two existing parking lots along Madison Street the village will need to acquire six privately owned properties to install these much needed spaces. Each of those residents no doubt has an attachment to their home, but the village has the tools and the means to make these folks whole again. If necessary, the courts will ensure that no one is simply turned out.
Meanwhile, another 15,000 people wait for their elected officials to act in the best interest of the majority.
Anytime a municipality seizes a residential property, there will be some emotional fallout – and rightly so. We should all dread the day such decisions are made with nary a tinge of anxiety. But the facts of the situation justify the proposal. Forest Park is a densely populated community that’s all of 2.4 square miles. New parking of any kind requires new land. The bulk of Madison Street’s growth has taken place within existing structures. This means that short of complete tear downs entrepreneurs would have also had to buy up additional property to provide more parking. Such a requirement would have been cost prohibitive and Forest Park likely would not be the destination it is today.
While it’s true the proposal does not fully satisfy the village’s parking needs, this shortfall only underscores the need to begin solving the problem sooner rather than later. With this in mind, we would implore village government to make this the first step of a long-term approach.
To support the growth we’ve all waited so long to see, the village must provide more parking.