A petition to restore a handful of parking spaces that will be lost to new medians installed along Harvard will likely have little impact on the project, according to village hall. However, Forest Park’s ranking department head said it’s possible that if the new installations prove to be disruptive they could be removed at a later date.
Upgrades to the sewer, road and surrounding streetscape along Harvard are nearing completion after several months of work, but village officials met with petitioners Nov. 4 to discuss concerns with the project. Medians and extended curbs near intersections are meant to slow traffic along the east-west route, as well as provide a decorative touch. However, near the intersection with Elgin, parishioners of the nearby First United Church of Christ will lose several on-street parking spaces.
On the western end of the project, near Desplaines, Scott Posson, co-owner of Forest Automotive Inc., is bristling over what he deems a dismissive attitude from public officials over questions about the project.
Closer to the intersection with Harlem, just east of the church, attorney Dan Rice said garbage haulers and other large trucks would struggle to navigate the tighter quarters.
“The lack of utility trumps the aesthetics,” Rice said of the streetscape design.
Exactly how many unmarked spots along Harvard might be lost isn’t clear, but Village Administrator Tim Gillian said that parking could easily be made up along other nearby roadways. At First United in particular, said Gillian, there likely are only a handful of spots that would be lost.
“It’s not like 150 people who come to services have been thrown out of a parking space,” Gillian said.
The federally funded road construction on Harvard was first vetted at a lightly attended public hearing held at the community center in May 2007. Fliers were distributed along the street, notice was posted at village hall, and a bi-monthly publication distributed to every household in town, the Forest Park Post, informed people of the hearing, said Gillian. Of the 18 people who attended that meeting, most were affiliated with the municipality. A total of five comments were received from the general public, he said.
Posson, who has worked at the automotive shop since 2001, said he understands the village satisfied its legal responsibilities to let people know about the project, but that more should have been done. In other communities, and for smaller projects even in Forest Park, large signs are staked into lawns to let people know of an upcoming meeting.
“The only thing I don’t like about it is they could have done a better job of notifying people,” Posson said. “To take away parking in this town is just crazy.”
Rice, who missed the Nov. 4 meeting with Gillian, Commissioner Mark Hosty and others involved in the road work, said there are about 100 signatures on the petition. It’s too late to alter the plans, said Gillian, but perhaps if the street design proves troublesome then changes could be made.