I wanted to comment on the editorial of May 5. The Review should be aware that I, along with our village administrator, and many chamber of commerce members participate in an Economic Development Committee meeting held regularly at Forest Park National Bank & Trust. Perhaps with the change in editors at the Forest Park Review, this information was not shared. While the vacant Trage building does slightly diminish the appearance of a vibrant downtown, new thriving businesses such as Duckfat and established businesses rebuilding their structures, such as McDonald’s, keep hope alive for our downtown district.
Although I agree the economic downturn has stymied our efforts somewhat, the Economic Development committee is not discouraged and we will continue to pursue any initiative to maintain the momentum of growth and prosperity in our downtown district.
Independent of that group, I have personally embraced and put my name to a weekly Cruise Night event, which I believe will draw new faces to our community, specifically our downtown, many of who will dine and shop while taking leisurely walks to view vintage and unique automobiles.
Amongst all of this, I continue to meet with and discuss opportunities with businesses that show interest in opening or relocating to Forest Park and this is consistent with a trend I began 11 years ago. I would also bring to your attention that with Forest Park being the small community it is, we cannot afford a full-time economic development person, let alone a department committed for that purpose. And I am not entirely convinced that a community our size should have one. Where Forest Park does excel is in its ability to do more with less and this is exemplified by its stable government operations in contrast to other municipalities who have taken drastic measures recently with large number of layoffs.
It may very well be that the Trage building has fallen victim to the downturn in property values and, as a result, may continue to sit for a while. I can’t say for certain though.
Most importantly, I just wanted to clarify that the Village and Chamber continue to meet monthly to both analyze and review business development efforts on behalf of our community as we have done for the last 11 years and we have no intention to reduce the combined efforts of these two organizations.
The success of the retail development in Forest Park has been built upon through the great partnership between local government and the business community. This marriage fueled the renaissance that has taken place especially in our downtown. While our efforts will never be derailed from our combined focus of Madison Street, we certainly will not lose sight of the opportunities before us on Roosevelt Road, particularly at the corner of Desplaines.
Mayor Anthony T. Calderone