First she was told she didn’t need a $25 Forest Park vehicle sticker and now she’s told that she does. In the meanwhile Donna Jawor, a part-time resident of the village, has picked up six tickets from the village and had multiple conversations over several years with village officials up to and including the mayor.
The village’s current conclusion: She needs to buy a sticker. But if she does they will void the tickets.
Jawor says she mainly lives in Dixon, a small city 100 miles west of Forest Park. But she also has a condo in Forest Park which she owns and shares with her 89 year old mother. That condo is in the 800 block of Desplaines Avenue, and the building’s private parking lot is where the tickets have been repeatedly issued. Her unstickered Toyota Celica is the auto being ticketed.
In 2004 Jawor was told by former village administrator Matt O’Shea that since her car was registered at that time in Rockford she did not need a vehicle sticker because the village of Forest Park honors the tags of other communities.
“The Village of Forest Park honors valid vehicle stickers (tags) from all other municipalities so long as the vehicle sticker is applied to a vehicle which is legally registered to the municipality where the sticker was sold,” O’Shea wrote in a letter he sent to Jawor dated Feb. 10, 2004.
“At that time they wouldn’t sell me a sticker,” Jawor said. “I wanted to buy a sticker, but they wouldn’t sell it to me.”
But now Jawor lives, primarily she says, in Dixon a community that does not require a vehicle sticker. But she, and her car, has been spending a lot of time in Forest Park, mostly parked in her condo building parking lot. And she has been getting tickets, at least six of them, for not having a valid vehicle sticker.
“I live in Dixon, but I’m frequently here visiting,” said Jawor.
This year Jawor has been told by village officials that she must have a Forest Park vehicle sticker. She has discussed the issue with police and other village employees and even called Mayor Anthony Calderone to talk about the issue last month.
“I told her I would look into it and I did,” Calderone said.
Calderone says O’Shea’s interpretation of the village ordinance was wrong.
“Now that it’s come to our attention in this one particular instance our position is that he made the wrong decision,” Calderone said. “Really Donna needs to buy a vehicle sticker.”
The village ordinance states that every car registered to a Forest Park address must have a Forest Park vehicle sticker. This would seem to indicate that Jawor does not need a Forest Park sticker because her state vehicle registration shows a Dixon address.
“The way I interpreted it is if you’re registered in the village you need to get a sticker,” Jawor said.
But the ordinance goes on to state “[T]he regular housing or frequent parking of a motor vehicle in a building or parking area located within the village shall be deemed prima facie evidence of ownership of such vehicle by a person required to obtain the license as provided by this chapter.”
This means that if your car is parked in town as often as five nights a week, you need a Forest Park sticker, says Deputy Police Chief Tom Aftanas.
“We run into this issue, not routinely but often enough, so our position is if you’re taking up residence in more than one community then, well, you need to comply with the laws of each of those communities and the only one we’re concerned with is Forest Park,” Calderone said.
Now that she has been told that she must have a Forest Park sticker Jawor intends to buy one the next time she is in town even though she thinks the village is just changing its policy to collect more money. She also questions the right of the police to come on to private property, the condo parking lot, to ticket her car.
But she and the village have apparently worked out a deal.
“They said I’ll have to buy the sticker and after I do so they’ll negate the tickets,” Jawor said. “I really don’t care very much any more. I’ll just get the sticker. It was just going back and forward. Yes you can, no you can’t. It was ridiculous and it was pretty frustrating.”