The next 12 months in Forest Park hold the potential for both change and continuation. Several important efforts got underway in 2008, so in that respect, 2009 should see those projects roll forward. Too, there are challenges that deserve everyone’s attention. What follows is a wish list of sorts for Forest Park, its residents and its businesses.

Unfortunately, flipping the calendar to show a new year won’t be enough to wipe the economy clean of all that ails it. The later part of 2008 especially put an incredible damper on all things monetary. Our wish in 2009 is for Forest Park to at least find some stability and not lose ground. It’s a modest goal and a bit dour, but the prospects for growth in 2009-perhaps into 2010-appear bleak.

We wish that business owners on Madison and elsewhere are able to pay their bills, keep the storefronts aglow and, maybe buy a few ads. We wish that local government, particularly the municipality, is able to check expenses as revenue streams shrivel. We wish that homeowners are able to remain as such.

On a more positive note, the potential for construction to begin on a new West Cook YMCA facility exists in 2009, and we hope this project can gain some real traction. For years, public officials and members of the non-profit have been negotiating how to make this work. There is still money to be raised and contracts to sign, but the complex that has been designed would truly be a gem for this community. In 2009, the rubber will meet the road for the YMCA. Here’s hoping that we haven’t been spinning our wheels all this time.

Of major importance for every resident in 2009-regardless of whether you have children-is the transition that will take place in the public schools. Administrators got their wish in 2008, and the elementary schools will be restructured in 2009. Some of the work to make this process as smooth as possible has already begun. In many respects, this will be about the parents as much as it will be about our quite resilient students. Our wish is for parents to embrace the process so that all the stakeholders can make the most of this opportunity.

Another of our wishes also relates to education, but most specifically to the politics that have plagued the high schools. Proviso Township District 209 will see four of its school board seats up for election in April, and given the list of incumbents facing re-election, this race is critical. The names of a few potential challengers are being bandied about as the filing deadline approaches, but who these candidates might be isn’t as important as their motivation for running. May District 209 students and taxpayers be blessed with a ballot full of sincere and honest individuals who will put education before all else.