A 20-foot traffic barrier, erected June 25 by five Public Works employees to protect the fence of Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone has neighbors and citizens irked.
A pickup truck, dump truck, digger loader and a cement mixer were parked in the alley at the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and Thomas Avenue as workers installed a municipal grade guard rail.
As the cement was drying on the long steel barrier, the Forest Park Review office received several phone calls from citizens who complained that the rail was protecting Calderone’s personal property at public expense.
In response to questions, Calderone said in an email that his fence had been damaged twice by vehicles “causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.”
“The guardrail that was installed is within the public right of way,” Calderone added. “Public works would never be allowed to work on my personal property.”
“In the past the village has installed similar guardrails where situations warrant the same protective measures,” Calderone said. A second guardrail is installed at the north end of his block near the Thomas Avenue tot lot.
Calderone said he had special challenges as mayor because in addition to auto damage to the corner fence, vandals had attacked his home in the past.
“The fence and my house have been egged, and pelted with a water mud mixture,” he wrote. Additionally, he said a neighbor’s unruly vegetation crossed the fence, causing extra work for his landscaper.
“My next door neighbor’s intentional growing of vines protrude several feet onto my property along the back side of my home,” he said. “This I have chalked up to bitterness.”
“Serving as the mayor of Forest Park should not be a license for others to damage my property without taking responsibility,” he wrote.
But citizens were less sympathetic.
“Someone damaged his fence. So what,” said one caller, who asked not to be identified because he feared reprisal. “That happens to everyone with a fence on a street or alley. It is not the duty of all village taxpayers to pay what Calderone’s insurance carrier should pay for.”
“Every person with a dented fence should go to village hall and demand a village installed guard rail.”
The 6-foot privacy fence itself was criticized when it was built in the mid-2000s because it blocks the view of drivers turning left onto Jackson from the alley. Children cross the alley on the way to Garfield School a block away.
This article has been updated to correct the height of the privacy fence.