Grant targets housing, foreclosures

With a $75,000 grant from the Chicago Community Trust, Forest Park will work with a handful of nearby communities to try and address mass foreclosures, and possibly other long-term housing needs. The grant will be used to pay a consultant whose job it would be to try and secure additional funding. That money, collected from federal, state and county sources, would be used to address housing issues in the area, including foreclosures, according to information provided to the village council during a July 27 meeting.

Maywood, Bellwood, Berwyn, Broadview and Oak Park are the other participating municipalities, with Maywood taking point. A steering committee would be assembled to set priorities for the consultant to achieve. Those priorities will likely center on rehabbing, marketing and improving various properties within those communities.

Council members in Forest Park voted unanimously to approve the arrangement.

Rules of the road

Local law enforcement continues to operate a series of traffic details intended to remind drivers to stop at crosswalks and also to purchase municipal registrations.

On July 23, between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., officers issued 11 tickets near the junction of Harrison and Beloit to Forest Park residents who had neglected to buy a vehicle sticker. In a department memo to the police chief, and provided to the Review, a supervisor said the effort was “slowed somewhat” when officers arrested three motorists for driving on suspended licenses or not having a valid license.

Later that same day, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., the detail moved north to Madison where 19 tickets were written to drivers who did not yield to a pedestrian attempting to cross at a crosswalk. One ticket was issued to a school bus driver, according to the department.

A similar patrol is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Rentals on radar

It has been more than a year since police and village officials discussed a strategy to target troublesome rental properties in Forest Park, and it appears those plans will be dusted off and put into action.

Using the August retirement of Lt. Steve Knack to free up money within the department, Chief Jim Ryan wants to train a veteran officer within the department to run the Crime Free Multi-Housing Program. That officer, who has not yet been selected, would work with landlords, property managers and tenants to reduce crime, evict troublesome tenants and bolster security measures at various properties. Those efforts would be based on a policing strategy developed in Mesa, Ariz., in 1992. At the heart of the strategy is a local ordinance mandating that property owners participate. Forest Park has not yet adopted such an ordinance.

According to Ryan, he hopes to have the program in full swing by the start of 2010.

A lack of funding has delayed the effort for some 13 months, but by not filling the lieutenant’s position, Ryan said the department can save about $60,500. An entry-level patrol officer would be hired, he said.