Board lends support to local charity

The Forest Park Chamber of Commerce is proud to be part of the exciting growth and resurgence that continues throughout Forest Park. As Forest Park’s oldest business organization, the chamber serves as an advocate for and supporter of local businesses. It is our mission to represent the business community, and work towards continued improvement for the betterment of our diverse collection of businesses.

At recent venues, Village Administrator Mike Sturino presented the results of the recent parking study that indicated a significant shortage of parking spaces in the Madison Street corridor, as well as the village’s proposal to alleviate the shortage. At the Nov. 13 council meeting, the proposal was presented to the village council.

The proposed plan adds needed parking which the chamber feels is a bold start and fiscally responsible. These new parking spaces will benefit the businesses on Madison Street as well as residents by helping to relieve the parking burden on residential streets adjacent to Madison.

While we empathize with property owners that may be affected by the parking plan, we support the proposal and encourage you to vote accordingly for the ordinances pertaining to this matter.

We appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to the positive results of this improvement.

Board of Directors, Forest Park Chamber of Commerce
Forest Park

A great performance

To the congregation and school of St. John Church: Thank you so much for the wonderful, inspiring presentation of the Boar’s Head Festival. It was a joyous way to start the holiday season and we appreciate so much all the work and beauty and hope that you will continue to give the community with this wonderful work in music, song and narrations. Bravo to all!

Shirley and Jack Christell
Forest Park

Creativity needed

It’s become obvious that parking is the hot topic of the day/week/month and really the year. It’s shaping up to be a great campaign topic. The elected officials of Forest Park grapple with an issue that’s heated on both sides. Businesses need traffic to survive. Homeowners – well, don’t we all love our home?

There are several options. At their most basic level, however, the options are to do nothing or to do something. If we choose to do something, it means property rights must be dealt with. If we choose to do nothing, we count on patience and a clientele that isn’t as lazy.

It’s a long walk from Harlem to Des Plaines, apparently more than 1,200 feet. I haven’t counted lately so I can’t attest to that, but apparently 600 ft. is magical: the distance people are willing to walk to get what they need today. For those track enthusiasts, let’s put that into perspective. It is two 100 yard dashes. If you’re into football, walk from one end zone to the other and back. That’d be a great day for the Bears rushing game.

Let’s face it, we’re lazy if 600 feet is all we’ll walk to get something; our beer, our stained glass, our tea, our dinner followed by ice cream (add 100 feet) and our hardware supplies. All of this right here in our nice small town where we can get most everything we need and still be 10 minutes from the big city. We just have to walk a couple extra feet. In exchange we get a smiling face at the counter, great advice, the parts we need and some original gifts/home dcor items/food and spirits.

Let’s make an assumption here. We’re all lazy and we all don’t want our houses torn down. The suggestion by our consultant is to give in. Stay lazy and bring in the heavy equipment. How creative. What about some other options? Something more creative? It’s been done before.

We revived a corridor on life support. We stopped the lackluster first round of Roos. We bought the land that will hopefully bring a new Y to the area with all those great amenities. Consider this. What about the merchants on Des Plaines and west of Des Plaines? Does a lot at Constitution Court or Circle and Madison help them at all? After all, this is for the merchants right? I like Molly Malone’s down there at the end of the street but parking there is a challenge at times. We’ve got a relatively new Thai restaurant that we sampled at the progressive dinner – very good food – not a lot of parking down that way. And don’t forget about the other merchants that call west of Des Plaines their home. Is the gas station lot really at the end of the corridor as our consultants concluded? Or is that today’s corridor? What about tomorrow’s?

Let’s not rush to bulldozers and pavers. We paid a firm to do the study. Now take their input and challenge them to come up with an even better solution. You never know what you’ll come up with.

I hope that’s what happens at the 12/11 meeting. And I hope our elected officials are listening with open minds to resident’s ideas and not simply going with the first set of options or taking sides for a productive 2-2 tie. I hope our residents come with solutions, not just a bunch of gripes. Our box is 2.4 square miles. We can’t build outside of it, but I sure hope we can think outside of it!

Alex Kiefer
Forest Park

‘A home is a home’

I’ve got a retail business (compact discs) in Oak Park – so I understand that businesses need parking – and if I had to move my business – well, that would be an incredible hassle and financial risk.

But a home is a home.

It’s neighbors, friends, memories – it’s where I’ve happily spent the last 25 years of my life – and since I can’t imagine how badly I would feel if my village forced me to move – I also can’t imagine my village forcing anybody else to.

And I also can’t imagine the editor of the village paper supporting this forced removal with vacuous phrases like “additional growth requires” and “the rebirth of FP lives and dies on the success of its business district.”

I’m sorry, but Forest Park was a fine place to live back when Madison Street was just a mile of seedy bars – and it would still be a fine place even if all the new upscale restaurants went elsewhere.

Chris Miller
Forest Park

On the kids’ behalf

I just wanted to take a moment and thank every one that participated in the Shop with a Cop 2006 program.

As you are aware, through the efforts of our contributors, volunteers and our host store Wal-Mart, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #24 was able to raise enough money and take 25 Forest Park kids on a shopping trip. Each child was given breakfast by Old Country Buffet and through our contributors the kids were afforded the opportunity to purchase Christmas presents for themselves and their families. I want to say thanks from the organization and myself.

This year’s program was a big success. It was truly an example of community spirit and holiday cheer to see the faces of the children, as they were able to have a better Christmas because of this program.

So on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #24, the village of Forest Park and the Forest Park Police Department, our sincere appreciation for your continuous participation in our community partnerships and thank you for always being willing to stay involved.

I would like to wish you and your family a happy, safe holiday season and have a Happy New Year.

David M. Preiwisch
President, F.O.P. Lodge #24

Balanced approach

The village parking issue has surely given rise to considerable emotional debate in recent weeks. The fact that the village board unanimously agreed to take time to make a good decision works in the favor of all the “stakeholders” involved. It is apparent that balance between the needs of all stakeholders is absolutely necessary. As one who can look at the issue from different perspectives, a few observations may be in order.

As a 33 year resident of Oak Park and having served for 10 years on the Oak Park Zoning Board of Appeals I have seen first hand the political grid lock that is having a considerable negative impact on that community. The pendulum of citizen input swung so far that the election of verbose and in some cases unqualified trustees has accomplished little except holding meetings that have lots of discussion and no action. As a result several developers and many businesses (some to the benefit of Forest Park) have left Oak Park. Currently, the long discussed Lake Street redevelopment proposal can not be agreed upon as input continues ad nauseum. Interestingly, parking is one of the main issues.

As the owner of a service business on Madison Street for the last seven years I have seen and been part of the positive impact the business community has had on the area. Although my business does no marketing I chose to join the Chamber of Commerce, the Madison Merchants and serve on the board of the Main Street Redevelopment Association as the treasurer. Knowing a large number of the owners on Madison I have found they are real people just like our residents. They aren’t giant corporations but individuals with ideas, enthusiasm and the need to be part of a successful community. Yes, we are here to make a profit. The residents in town who have other jobs call it income.

Several residents have written to say that they live in Forest Park for more reasons than the attractive Madison Street business district. That is as it should be. But businesses locate here for the same reasons. Kathy Kucia said in her letter last week that businesses don’t worry “about the schools, library, park district or any other aspect of our town other than the six blocks of Madison Street.” The heads of each of those entities plus the mayor are special advisers to the Main Street board and attend our meetings each month. Additionally, the largest number of our members are village residents, not business owners. We aren’t a “very self serving and unfeeling organization.” When locating a business in any community an owner must be concerned with the quality of those entities because they are essential to the success of the business. When a resident decides to purchase a home in Forest Park they take the risk that all the elements Kathy discussed stay strong. They also take the risk that the business community stays strong and continues to provide increasing sale tax revenue. When a business owner chooses to locate in Forest Park they risk their personal capital on the continued vibrancy of the entire community as well.

It’s time for all of us to settle down and listen to each other. We should all be heard, but at some time our elected officials will have to make a final decision. Not everyone will be pleased, but we should expect they would make it in good faith and with the best interest of all “stakeholders” in mind.

Joe Locke
Oak Park

New candidate

As a lifelong resident of Forest Park I have never seen the level of conflict and divisiveness that exists in the village now. There is a level of secrecy that breeds suspicion and a loss of trust; information that had been previously available to residents through freedom of information requests is now denied. A confrontational atmosphere and loss of trust has developed because of this secrecy.

This situation has made me realize that I owe a lot to this town and must stand up and repay the village for the good life that I have had here. I have been serving on the zoning board of appeal but feel that it is time to step up and devote more time and energy to Forest Park.

Therefore I am announcing my candidacy for commissioner.

If elected I will work closely with the mayor and other commissioners but my primary concern will be for the residents and the quality of life in Forest Park .

I am a graduate of St. Bernardine, Proviso, attended DePaul University part time, and have a BFA in industrial design from the school of The Art Institute of Chicago. Because I’m retired I will be free to dedicate as much time to village business as needed without job distractions.

Remember it is “Government of the people by the people for the people” not “Government of the government by the government for the government.”

Richard Danca Scafidi
Forest Park