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If there is a single magical act that would improve the quality of life in Forest Park, we’d suggest that it is to improve the quality of life in Maywood. Build a Maywood that is more stable, more prosperous, more vital and you have created a Forest Park that is safer and less isolated.

So how does Forest Park help accomplish this magical feat for a town that has long struggled politically, educationally and economically and has now been clobbered by foreclosures in this endless housing debacle?

Mass transit. Forest Park should actively work in support of a plan put forward by the Illinois Department of Transportation to extend the Blue Line el beyond its terminus at DesPlaines Avenue and on the First Avenue in Maywood. The longer term plan to add stops at 25th Avenue and then at Mannheim Road should also earn Forest Park’s strong support.

Urban planning tells us that good things happen along mass transit lines. New business clusters, housing is built and rehabbed, jobs are created, connections are extended. Forest Park is the town it is today because it is served by two CTA lines, Metra and has the Ike.

A longer Blue Line will give Maywoodians easy access to jobs in the Loop and across the city. A stop at First Avenue would finally allow reasonable access to the infernal Maybrook Courthouse.

The main event here is the expansion and the rebuilding of the Eisenhower expressway in the coming decade. That is going to happen in some form. IDOT reps are promising they can add lanes through Forest Park and still stay within the current ditch. That’s good news though the reconfiguration of the Harlem exit to eliminate the left hand exits is going to take some intrusive engineering.

But buried among the several proposals IDOT has been pushed by rail advocates to include is the Blue Line extension. CTA owns an easement through Concordia Cemetery Ð an easement which is grave-free Ð that would be the natural path to First Avenue.

If Forest Park is going to accept years of construction on the Ike, two added lanes of fumes and noise, then it is time to bargain on the Blue Line.

Better Maywood. Better Forest Park.

Ice ideas

Once Nadeau’s Ice House stood alone. You wanted spectacular notions in frozen H2O, you called Nadeau’s in Forest Park.

Times change. Jim Nadeau now estimates there are 400 firms sculpting ice across the country. Add to that a recession-weary America that is less mesmerized by ostentatious weddings with altars of ice and corporate events with toney gym shoes displayed in giant ice cubes. That is a prescription for challenge for a business that has ruled the ice field since the 1980s.

In Nadeau’s case, it was a challenge that spurred innovation. Over on Roosevelt Road these days there are computer driven ice sculptures being created at a lower cost, there are ice sculptures for pickup – that don’t require the labor costs to deliver – and there is a new party room in the freezer.

This is imagination and good old fashioned American entrepreneurialism in action.