The village government has found the first use for part of the $4 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) money awarded in December: A new Comprehensive Plan. Village Administrator Tim Gillian announced to commissioners at the village council meeting March 19 that he planned to issue a Request for Qualifications for a company to craft a new plan. The previous plan, readable on the front page of the village’s website, was written in 2001.
“There is no doubt federal, state and county grant money is much more available if you can tie your grant request to some sort of a planning tool,” Gillian said.
The former plan was written by a Chicago firm, Trkla, Pettigrew, Allen & Payne, Inc., a company that no longer exists, said Gillian. The 2001 plan cost $90,000. “But if anyone from that group responds to the RFQ, we’ll certainly look at it.”
The former plan is more than 70 pages long. It was developed shortly after Mayor Anthony Calderone was elected to his first term as mayor in 1999, said Gillian.
Some concerns of Forest Parkers in 2001 included empty storefronts on Madison Street, anxiety over the lack of a high school in Forest Park, a desire to maintain the number of single family homes in the area, and a lack of bike- and walk-friendly thoroughfares in the village.
In the intervening 11 years, Madison Street has undergone a landscaping and streetscaping facelift and is mostly filled with restaurants and shops. Proviso Math and Science Academy was created in 2004. A condo-conversion wave of property teardowns lost steam when the economy deflated. Forest Park received a Healthy Living grant from the county which paid for the development of an “Active Transportation” plan.
“We have been using that plan in some capacity to help guide development,” said Gillian.
“Within the HUD grant we have three years to spend all of the money that was included in that grant,” said Gillian. The village also proposes buying up foreclosed properties, remodeling and selling them as affordable housing. “HUD recognizes it will be more beneficial for other parts of the grants if we have a plan in place [that addresses] how we want to do affordable housing.”
A comprehensive plan is a guide, he said. “It’s not cast in stone. It’s a guide and you have to take it as such.”
Pool passes go on sale
Forest Park Aquatic Center Pool Passes went on sale April 2. Family passes for a family of five cost $120 for residents and $220 for non-residents. Early buyers save $5 on an individual pass or $10 off a family pass until May 11.