As 2012 comes to a close in Forest Park there are a number of stories this year that are left unresolved. Some are garden variety local topics but others linger because they reflect deeper challenges and opportunities for the New Year.
2013 will really be the year of the village’s comprehensive plan. We’ve been impressed by the ground work that has been laid. Issues are complex, and the plan should address them as it sets up a broad decision-making framework for the next decades. Key to this process will be the involvement of the full range of voices in Forest Park. Welcoming those voices has not been the village’s strong suit over the past decade. This plan process is a fresh opportunity to listen well.
Out of the plan will come a clearer direction for the prime land owned by the village at Altenheim. We hope the plan yields a thoughtful and doable vision that keeps this property open and available to residents. Mayor Tony Calderone was right on when the village purchased this land a decade ago. Now it is time to make choices for the years ahead.
Scratch Kitchen and its liquor license is one of those stories – and we wrote about it last week – that is both a small news item but remarkably revealing of how small-minded and screwy the governance structure has become in Forest Park. But two people have their life savings and the future of their families on the line. Forest Park can do better than this.
The financial crisis, the banking crisis and the leadership crisis have complicated commercial real estate foreclosures. The Roos Building has gotten lost in the morass of its current bank overlord. But 2013 has to be the year that the Park District breaks through the thicket and buys this property with the tax money voters generously offered up via referendum.
We have no faith in the future of the District 209 Proviso High Schools. Well, we must have a little since we are actually excited that Chris Welch will leave the school board when his term expires in April. Sure that is tempered by the reality that he will now be our state rep in Springfield. But things have got to get better after the April elections. Right?
District 91 does a lot of things well and mostly we praise the board and administration of the elementary schools on this page. But the schools have pledged to do better to improve communication with families and to involve parents more in the schools. We recognize intense parent involvement is essential to good schools.
Finally, as we close out 2012, we fondly remember these neighbors who died this year. Roberta Marunde, the first lady of both the village and Altenheim; Nancy Bower, Kiwanian and active village volunteer; Nello Ferrara, candy patriarch; Don Peaslee, hardware store man and Renaissance man; and Sharon Obeidallah, a co-founder of CUinFP.