Check out this year’s Forest Park Community Guide!

Online edition –>

It’s been a while – since early 2009 if I recall correctly – but it sure feels fine when our village commissioners put their very own thinking caps on and kick around matters of public importance in public.

The Sept. 24 village council discussion centered on prioritizing the Altenheim survey. Should the survey, and presumably future use of the property, be decided first and consequently influence the Comprehensive Plan or should the plan be done first to influence Altenheim’s future? An intriguing choice, for sure.

The commishes offered pros and cons, listened to each other, considered ideas that weren’t their own, and were quite decent to each other while doing so. This behavior doesn’t just excite good government types, it excites the commishes – visible and palpable within the chamber but probably lost via video recordings.

The consensus among the four was to conduct the survey upfront to influence and smooth CP decisions. Harris noted that we’ve already talked about every possible use and survey results will “give us the direction we want to go.” Mannix agreed, suggesting “we use it as a guide book or a road map,” especially if the results show a majority preference. Hoskins wants “to move forward with the survey and have Images put it upfront.” Hosty proposed an additional survey Ð a report card of sorts about village services Ð and would also like that to guide the CP. Mannix lobbied hard for the survey to be done professionally and scientifically to ensure against bias, and it appeared the commishes agreed.

Assuming another 11 acres of land will not become available, and accepting the future Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has laid out, methinks it best to have the Altenheim, our crown jewel, our one and only, our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, lead the way. Any other small developmental notions can easily blend in.

It is, apparently, very satisfying to bring your best to problem-solving and fulfill your elected responsibilities. Good going, guys.

Speaking of leadership, the park district board voted to cancel our Fourth of July fireworks after 30 years and had Executive Director Larry Piekarz deliver the rough news.

Piekarz reported that the vote-to-cancel – made after consulting with Mayor Calderone and the police department – was prompted primarily by ever-growing crowds and costs. He reportedly said the “potential” for gang activity was a real-but-minor concern and that “the decision might be reversible.” What?

A week later, the Review editorial tried to piece together off-the-record remarks (and body language?) and suggested “crowds and costs” was spin and the real cause to cancel was the “potential” for gang activity/problems. Why in the world is this a guessing game?

Holy Firecrackers, boys! Leadership is not just for the good times, and face time with your constituents is not just for election time.

Ending 30 years of Fabulous Forest Park Fireworks is a big deal, which one could intuit and also read about after the news broke. For seven pages(!) residents expressed shock, confusion, pain, anger, need for answers, and willingness to help find a solution other than cancelling.

This situation was not handled well, park board President John Doss and Mayor Tony Calderone. We deserve better. We, at the very least, deserve the straight story from officials who made the decision, including the FPPD.

Here’s a not-novel idea: Call a residents meeting, explain and document the situation, describe possible options, and then let folks vent. You can then set up a (real) citizens Research & Recommend Committee to sort out this rather common urban problem and then let them do their work and report back with a public document. Might as well tell them Summerfest is on the block, too.

And no, we don’t need an email about a new lawnmower you want to buy. Our Fourth of July celebration is a BFD, as is the Altenheim. Oh, and the Roos.