The West Cook County Housing Collaborative is hosting a community workshop in Forest Park for their Homes for a Changing Region project on Sept. 20. This interactive workshop, which will run from 6:30- 9 p.m. at the Howard Mohr Community Center, 7640 Jackson Blvd., will allow local residents to voice their opinions on how and where the village’s residential housing should evolve.
The workshop engages the public in a creative way, allowing them to participate in an exercise that Nancy Firfer, senior advisor on the project from the Metropolitan Planning Council, has described as “like Monopoly.” Attendees will be broken up into groups, and will get to opine on the future of the village’s residential housing by placing game pieces representing various types of housing on maps of Forest Park.
According to Commissioner Tom Mannix, “The goal of this project is trying to provide a view of gaps in our housing for different demographics.” This will help the village determine a long-term approach to serve as a guide for when developers come in.
While specific “target areas” have been discussed for residents to focus in on, Commissioner Rory Hoskins said that currently such specifics are an “open question”. One area that has been discussed, particularly at an Aug. 1 meeting with the village and CMAP, is the area around the Forest Park CTA Blue Line terminal.
This site was suggested because it is walkable and transit-friendly, surrounded by historic buildings and cemeteries, diverse housing stock, and nearby independent retail and restaurant options on Madison Street. At the meeting, Mayor Anthony Calderone called the location his top choice.
The Mayor’s Press Office did not return multiple calls for this story, nor did Village Administrator Tim Gillian, who is listed as a contact person on the event press release.
According to Hoskins, other possibilities include the Roos property at Harrison Street and Circle Avenue, which he described as “an eyesore”, and the intersection at Harlem Avenue and Circle Avenue, which he said is a choke point for traffic.
The planning for many of the municipalities in the West Cook Housing Collaborative has focused on transportation. Hoskins describes transportation as a selling point for Forest Park, being close to the Green and Blue Lines of the CTA and Interstate-290.
“We are dependent on transportation,” Hoskins said.
Mannix stressed the importance of getting the community involved in this discussion through workshops like this, saying that “we have no monopoly on good ideas.”
“The more people we can get showing up,” Mannix said, “the better this will be.”