Different, not better

I understand why the Chamber of Commerce and Development, and the government are so proud of the gentrification of Madison Street; and yet so much is lacking from this street. Newcomers probably do not know that not so many years ago on Madison Street between Harlem and Desplaines we had two Chinese restaurants, two office supply stores, photocopy shops, men’s wear, a much needed animal shelter, two independent pharmacies, two grocery stores and probably the best video store in the west suburbs. We also had a used book store, which could never survive now.

These were practical businesses – not trendy boutiques – that were really needed in the village. Instead, we have arty shops with somewhat overpriced merchandise (no offense) and less practical types of stores. The best store (tasteful and practical) in recent years is Bed, Bath and Beyond, which is not on Madison Street.

Unfortunately, 12 storefronts are currently vacant between Harlem and Desplaines, most notably the old Mobil station and Rocco’s on the corner of Desplaines and Madison, and the absent Shell station facing Harlem. There will be more vacancies soon, after a few antique shops close. This is disconcerting and interesting because it suggests that businesses cannot afford the rent or cannot make sufficient profit. A good, small grocery would be an excellent addition now that Sav-Er and White Hen Pantry are gone.

I am definitely not nostalgic for the old days. It is different now, but for my shopping needs (and I suspect many others’) it is not better. It looks nicer and I guess it brings more money into the village.

Mark Maller
Forest Park

Picnic a success

On behalf of the Picnic Committee, we would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chamber of Commerce, village, Park District and all Forest Park schools for their continued support in proving a fun filled day of activities for this year’s 35th Annual Bob Haeger All School Picnic.

The committee would like to thank the PTOs and PTAs of the public and private schools for their annual donations. We would also like to express our appreciation to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Post 7181 for their financial contribution. These donations, along with the chamber’s annual financial support, helped make this year’s annual event a huge success.

A very special thank you to Ferrara Pan Candy Company and the Forest Park Community Education Council for their generous donations. All of the children who enjoyed free pony rides can be thankful to these special friends of the All School Picnic. Thank you, too, to Byron’s Hot Dogs for the wonderful hot dogs for the event.

In addition, we are grateful to Nadeau’s Ice Sculptures for their annual donation of two 300-pound blocks of ice used to ice down the 3,000 cans of soda, and to Allied Waste Services for their generous donation of the Dumpster that is used for cleanup.

We would also like to thank the police and fire departments for their continued cooperation and assistance, and also, all of the volunteers that helped in the food distribution, ticket sales, supervision, recreational activities and entertainment. They, along with the school teachers, are the backbone of this operation. Without that group of dedicated workers an event of this size could not be accomplished.

Finally, our hats off to the village employees of the public works and public property departments. They, along with the crews from the Park District and the school district maintenance staffs performed that thankless job of picking up after others. Within an hour everything was put away and the park grounds were back in shape.

Larry Piekarz, Beth Kovacic
Co-chairs, All School Picnic Committee