Check out this year’s Forest Park Community Guide!

Online edition –>

There’s nary a dull moment in Forest Park and 2007 proved to be no exception. Readers next week can look forward to one of our favorite editions of the year when we take a look back at the issues and events that helped shape this community. It’s always a pleasure to recall those stories that lifted us up, and our hope is that everyone is made a bit wiser by the stories that knock us down.

But all of that can be contemplated next week. For the time being, this space is devoted to the coming year and the events that most certainly will be worth following.

As excited as anyone may be upon hearing that the West Cook YMCA was able to reach a deal to bring its new and improved facilities to Forest Park, the next eight to 12 months will be crucial. Yes, for several years this project has been a labor of its supporters but the heavy lifting is only about to begin. An ambitious fundraising campaign will likely need to secure at least half of the $20 million price tag that’s been tied to the facility YMCA directors hope to construct. Without the money to do so, it’s possible the 7.7 acres that village officials have agreed to turn over to the YMCA will be taken back. And then the search begins anew?

Also on the development front is the renovation of a dilapidated and vacant factory building on Harrison Street. Once home to the Roos Cedar Chest company, the property will be rehabbed into condos and townhouses to be sold in a shaky market. This is a rough time to be sinking millions of dollars into speculative housing, so community members should be interested to see how well this project fares.

We’ve seen no indication from the public or private sectors that anyone is considering a long-term solution to the village’s parking shortage on Madison Street. This hot potato was dropped after much politicking and finger pointing-influenced by the elections, we’re sure. Still, no matter how creative or congenial the temporary fixes that followed have been, they’re still temporary. Forest Park must find a way to accommodate the shoppers and the residents of this bustling corridor.

In our public schools there seems to be an overall and genuine enthusiasm surrounding a handful of initiatives put forth in 2007. Administrators have been right to speak frankly and directly to several prickly topics, namely race and the enormous role it seems to play in student achievement. But there’s also a push to integrate technology, to make better use of the taxes that are collected and to bring community members into the classroom. These efforts will take more than a single year before the returns are seen in full, but 2008 will be District 91’s chance to demonstrate its sincerity and act on its promises.

Exciting times indeed.