We are thrilled that Forest Park’s comprehensive plan process appears to be back in action after stalling out since July when Images, Inc. met with 17 stakeholders to toss around challenges facing our town and ideas to improve it.
Monday night in a constructive and collaborative meeting, the village council and plan commission members met to take part in the same workshop activities. In some respects, the stakeholders had a bolder vision. Along with the big issues, stakeholders in July proposed ideas like recycling centers, community food systems, exploring a Forest Park high school, a shopping shuttle, small business incubators and improved cooperation between different ethnic groups.
Commissioners Monday proposed more concrete ideas, like redevelopment of Roosevelt Road, a shared regional fire district, land use planning for the CTA rail yard. As it’s near Halloween, the spectre of Home Rule for Forest Park also resurrected itself. This town voted down Home Rule in 2001, 62 percent against and 38 percent in favor. Commissioners Mark Hosty and Tom Mannix said they supported Home Rule. Hosty said Home Rule would allow the village to put more teeth in building code violation enforcement. Mayor Anthony Calderone said there were no examples of local officials “going crazy” under Home Rule.
Home Rule, a state of expanded local control determined by an arbitrary population level, requires voter trust in local officials, and more importantly in systems put in place so future local officials can maintain that trust. Neighboring River Forest just rejected Home Rule last April. We don’t see more local trust in our current team than they had in theirs.
Commissioner Chris Harris said Monday it would be wise for commissioners to look down the road 10 years and ask themselves if they would like someone else to have that power in a decade.