A new home brings feelings of elation. Visions of a rose-colored future.
Originally, our hearts were set on the coveted zip codes of either River Forest or Oak Park, but a beautiful single-family home popped up out of nowhere in little known Forest Park. We knew it was home after the first walk-through.
Family, friends, even people with a passing knowledge of the area questioned our decision. Go for the zip code, you’ll be better off in the long run.
Having lived the reckless and bullying politics of Chicago and Rosemont, which seemingly held little regard to the concerns of its residents, what we knew of up-and-coming Forest Park would be a breath of fresh air.
Besides, it had a too-good-to-be true mayor who was instrumental in reshaping the perception and success of Forest Park. Driving through the township revealed a vibrant commercial corridor, homes under renovation, even in this struggling economy, bright, sunny well-kept public spaces, and people who just seemed… happy. We didn’t feel that when viewing homes in the coveted zip codes.
So, we took a chance.
First, came the speed humps. Very annoying speed humps without an apparent purpose, unless to slow down the snail-paced junk man on his bi-weekly scavenges.
The long, harsh winter was surreal, so at first we thought maybe they were there all along. Buried under the snow, so they weren’t noticed. No, they weren’t. Fresh paint markings showed they were newly installed. Odd? How can speed humps be installed in a public way without petitioning the surrounding residents?
Even in Chicago they’d solicit a residential petition. If the Alderman said yes, and the neighborhood said yes. All went well. And if the Alderman said yes, and the neighborhood said no, at least you knew what was coming.
Then, new paint markers appeared in the alleyway. Electrical work? Sewer? Utilities? No, it’s a larger-than-life, industrial guardrail! What? How can a homeowner just install speed humps and a larger-than-life guardrail around his home within the public way?
This is outrageous! Someone needs to call the village officers, or better yet, the mayor.
Oh… this home belongs to the mayor.
Suddenly, the rosy vision got very clear. Just another small town, with a small town mayor, whose past success has led to a sense of entitlement that, apparently, has blurred the lines of responsible public service.
Hopefully, the residents of Forest Park are irate enough to demand accountability. If not, at least we won’t be surprised if stories surface of a horse farm in downstate Illinois.