CDBG money is not just for alleys anymore. The village of Forest Park expanded the number and type of projects that could be considered for funding under Community Development Block Grants when the council held its yearly public CDBG hearing on Nov. 25. Although in the past the grants were used primarily for alley repaving and infrastructure in the CDBG zones, this year’s list of possible projects was expanded to include non bricks-and-mortar projects, including funding “public service” projects.
According to Village Administrator Tim Gillian, these could include employment services (e.g., job training), crime prevention and public safety, child care, health services, substance abuse services (counseling and treatment), fair housing counseling, education programs, energy conservation, services for homeless persons, welfare services (excluding income payments), down payment assistance and recreational services.
Commissioner Rory Hoskins suggested at the village comprehensive planning workshop that CDBG grants be used to tear down the village-owned vacant buildings on the Altenheim property.
CDBG grants are awarded by the state through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Alleys close to home
The $192,000 received from HUD in February 2011, was used by the village in part for 2012 alley improvements in the 7400 block of Warren Avenue, where Commissioner Mark Hosty and his wife own a home. This year, the Village VIP fund paid for four alleys to be repaved, including the 500 block of Elgin/Marengo where Village Administrator Tim Gillian owns a home.
Basement offices, new signage tabled
Forest Park commissioners tabled two items on Monday’s agenda. Commissioner Tom Mannix asked to postpone an ordinance allowing the basements of Madison Street buildings to be used by non-retail businesses. The downtown business district restricts non-retail or restaurant tenants to the ground floor along Madison Street between Desplaines and Harlem avenues. According to a note from Planning Consultant Jo Ellen Charlton, a professional business was seeking to open offices in the lower level of a Madison Street building. Mannix did not object to the specific use or business but said he wanted any change in ordinances to be tracked on documents given to the council. The council agreed and tabled the item.
Commissioner Chris Harris asked the village to table an ordinance, recommended by the Traffic and Safety Committee, which would have called for 24 new signs prohibiting truck traffic. Streets prohibiting truck traffic would include Dunlop Avenue between Desplaines Avenue and Roosevelt Road, Harrison Street between Desplaines and Harlem avenues, Jackson Boulevard between Madison Street and Harlem, Lathrop Avenue between Madison and Brown Avenue, and Troost Avenue between Roosevelt and Desplaines.
“When reading this, ‘overkill’ came to mind,” Harris said. According to the council report, there was no record in Public Works about where existing signs are located or how many different styles are up around town. Mannix said a report about existing signs should be submitted before new signs are paid for. The village council agreed to table the item.
New self-storage facility approved
The Village Plan Commission approved plans Monday for a new self-storage and office space facility to be constructed at 1800 Desplaines Ave. Developers had requested permission to add a second story to the existing building, which has been vacant for years. The developers requested a Planned Unit Development (PUD) agreement with the village, including zoning variances to build a “mixed use, indoor/outdoor, climate controlled self-storage and office suite facility.” They also asked for permission to alter the parking configuration and loading docks. The business will be called “Life Storage” and is owned by Christopher Barry of Barrington, the registered agent for LSC Development LLC. The contractor who will complete the remodel was listed as Cobalt Commercial Construction LLC, owned by Steve Osborne of Barrington.
This article has been updated to identify the source of alley replacment funds for the 500 block of Elgin/Marengo.