The Village Council struck down a proposal to increase village vehicle sticker fees at Monday night’s meeting, amending an ordinance that would have increased fees to $30 per vehicle from $25.

Commissioner Chris Harris objected to the ordinance when it was first read, saying, “This is a bad time for a tax increase,” and suggesting that the village cut costs instead. He pointed out that raising sticker fees would come in addition to the extra costs of the water bill pass-through increases from the City of Chicago.

Commissioner Tom Mannix proposed amending the ordinance to keep vehicle sticker prices steady and the commissioners and mayor voted unanimously to approve it. The vote was a rare occurrence where commissioners in both the minority and majority factions of the council agreed to change an ordinance.

Harris also stated that he thought late fees of 100 percent plus $5 per month for every month late were “draconian” for villagers who did not pay for the sticker. Mayor Anthony Calderone said that from the time Forest Parkers received their renewal notices (early February) to the end of the 30-day grace period, they will have had three months to pay the sticker fee. He also pointed out that the village erects “4-by-8 signs” in public locations to remind residents to purchase stickers. The late-fee structure was not altered.

Town Hall to discuss Altenheim and 512 Desplaines properties

Commissioner Chris Harris sent an email to village commissioners and announced at the village council meeting that a public gathering to discuss village-owned properties at 512 Desplaines and the Altenheim has been scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in the basement of Village Hall.

Regarding the property behind the Altenheim German Home, 7824 W. Madison St., where a deal with the West Cook YMCA fell through in 2009, Harris wrote, “We are at a crossroads that begs for public input and awareness.”

In May of 2010, the village announced that Fenwick High School and Dominican University had both expressed interest in buying the land for athletic fields.

Fenwick football players currently bus practicing players to rented facilities at the Dominican University Priory and play their home games at Morton West High School Stadium.

In May 2010, the commission voted 4-1 to make Mayor Calderone the sole negotiator in the Altenheim property deal. Then-Commissioner of Public Property Marty Tellalian had proposed a joint-use agreement with the Park District of Forest Park but was frustrated that he had diminished authority in negotiations after Calderone became the only negotiator. Tellalian ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year. Chris Harris is the current commissioner of Public Property.

About the 512 Desplaines property, Harris noted in his email, “The Historical Society and a forward thinking ‘Design Grid’ plan for 512 has been discussed and it needs continued public discourse. I think the Mayor was right in having preliminary discussions via a council meeting, and it is only healthy to continue that discussion in a public forum.”

The 512 two-flat was burned in an arson attempt in July 2010 and has been in disrepair ever since, with a collapsed roof. The village bought it for half the back taxes, “less than $8,000,” said Calderone. The village has offered the building to the Historical Society of Forest Park if they can raise enough money to fix it up.

– Jean Lotus