With the season’s weather wreaking havoc on Forest Park’s streets, public officials are working to repair the rapidly deteriorating road conditions, but would like to do so without shoveling their budget into a bottomless pothole.
In recent weeks, Commissioner Mark Hosty has been prepping fellow council members for what will likely be a whopping budget request from the Department of Public Works. Forest Park has used triple the amount of patching material this winter compared with seasons past, dumping an estimated 60,000 pounds of cold patch onto the craterous streets.
The department’s budget “has been shot,” said Hosty. But potholes still need to be filled until the weather breaks and workers can make more lasting repairs.
“It’s going to be expensive,” he said.
As the commissioner overseeing streets and public improvements, Hosty is responsible for pitching budget requests to the full council on behalf of the public works office. Working with Director Bob Kutak, Hosty said he has submitted a request to the village’s finance director for consideration in the upcoming budget hearings this spring.
Hosty declined to say how much money he is seeking for road repairs, and stated that he still needs to convince a majority of the council members to go along with his proposal.
“I don’t want them getting a prejudice toward that figure until I’ve had a chance to present my case,” Hosty said.
Village Administrator Mike Sturino said more information is needed about the extent of the problem, but estimated it would take tens of thousands of dollars to fix the streets.
“We’re all going to have to be shifting some money within our budget to get the roads back to drivable,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said.
Harvard Street and Desplaines Avenue are among the bumpiest routes, said Hosty, but they pose a financial dilemma. The state has slated Desplaines Avenue for reconstruction work sometime in the next three years, and the village is expecting to repave Harvard Street during the 2009 construction season. In the meantime, the village has to maintain those surfaces knowing that any improvements are going to be gutted.
“We want to make it livable,” Hosty said. “You can fill them with cold patch and then the next time it snows and you run a plow over it, it’s a pothole again.”