They’re lighter and brighter, they use much less energy, and they last for 80,000 hours (that’s more than nine years). Forest Park tried out LED lamps on roughly 45 streetlights in the TIF District near Brown Street and Circle Avenue and now they want to replace all the streetlights in the village with LED fixtures.

“It’s a different light. It’s cleaner and more clear, different than the orange light that the current streetlights put out,” said Village Administrator Tim Gillian.

Representatives from Constellation Energy appeared at the village council meeting to explain the benefits of LEDs to council members. The village council voted Monday to allow Gillian to proceed with a plan to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a company (including bids from Constellation Energy) to help the village replace all streetlamp fixtures with LEDs.

“The specific model we’re talking about, the lights can pay for themselves with electricity saved,” said Gillian. “These are savings that the village will realize not only in monthly maintenance but in much smaller power usage.” He added that power companies offer rebates to municipalities the first year to offset the costs of replacing street lighting.

A grant from Illinois Clean Energy helped pay for the Brown Street LEDs. Gillian thinks there are grants that can help pay for the replacement of the entire village street lighting system as well.

The LED streetlights are made up of a cluster of mini-lights, attached to a fixture and burning independently. They burn 40 to 60 percent less electricity than incandescent light bulbs. Current incandescent streetlights require regular maintenance (sometimes as often as once a month). Furthermore, the amount of light emitted starts to decay as time goes on, Gillian said.

Currently, the lighting on Madison Street is below Illinois Department of Transportation-recommended levels because the streetlamps are older. “Madison is not bright enough. We need to have brighter lights. But the entire lighting system in Forest Park will be updated.”

The RFQ would seek a firm to handle all components of the streetlight swap-out, including financing, supplying, installing and maintaining the new lights.

Gillian said he believed Forest Park would be municipal pioneers. “We would be one of the only communities in Illinois to change over all its street lighting to LED. This will be a bold step for the council to take.”

Amelia’s on Harrison to offer beer and wine

The village council has added an extra Class A2 liquor license to accommodate Amelia’s Restaurant, which will open at the former site of the Harrison Street Caf, 7330 Harrison Street.

“We wanted to open, serving just beer and wine,” said co-owner Sarah Houhoulis. “Hopefully we can have full-service liquor later.” The restaurant, which may be open as soon as the first week of April, plans a menu of organic, locally sourced American food.

Houhoulis, with husband Greg, have been remodeling the former cafe. “Everything’s been running smoothly. The Village of Forest Park has been a joy to deal with.”

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...