Rory Hoskins, incumbent candidate for commissioner, is focusing much of his campaign on a state program to lure businesses to Forest Park through tax exemptions and abatements.
Specifically, he is proposing that Forest Park focus on improving Roosevelt Road by joining an existing Enterprise Zone – either Maywood’s or Cicero’s. Enterprise Zones are a state backed program designed to foster economic development and expansion by providing financial incentives to business.
“It has been a highly successful tool in stimulating growth and neighborhood revitalization in areas of the state that are experiencing economic hardships,” wrote Marcelyn Love, communications manager for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development.
We like the concept. And we’re glad to see Hoskins propose something specific to address the real challenges Roosevelt Road presents. But we worry over likely complications – financial, political, practical – in attaching Forest Park’s growth to a program run by another community.
As Village Administrator Tim Gillian said, forming a collaborative effort with Maywood isn’t impossible but there will be a lengthy list of obstacles. Here are questions we anticipate. What would Maywood get out of an alliance? How successful and stable is Maywood’s existing program? What control might Forest Park cede in making a pact?
Maywood’s existing Enterprise Zone is not particularly active. There has been a project finalized in the district only twice in the past six years. Now, we understand the past three years have been enormously difficult for any investment and we know Maywood is a challenging community on many levels. But hitching Forest Park to a program in Maywood, or Cicero with its dicey politics, would need to be approached with an abundance of caution.
We have a more basic question, and one we’d like to see actively discussed in the closing weeks of this spring campaign. Most every candidate now agrees that Roosevelt Road is the next challenge and opportunity in Forest Park. But what vision do the candidates have for this street with its disparate uses, high traffic count and its patches of success and failure?
If the opportunity on Roosevelt Road is to be realized, there needs to be a thoroughgoing plan for the street from Harlem to Desplaines. Without a plan, progress will be sporadic and interesting potential tools, such as the Enterprise Zone envisioned by Hoskins will be wasted.