There wasn’t much, if any, disagreement on display last week when the five candidates for the village council met in a candidates’ forum at Forest Park Middle School. The five candidates, Joe Byrnes, Rachell Entler, Dan Novak and incumbents Mark Hosty and Tom Mannix are competing for four seats on the village council. Hosty, Mannix, Byrnes and Entler are running on a slate supported by Mayor Anthony Calderone while Novak is running as an independent.
The candidates all said that video gaming, which was rejected by a two-to-one margin in a 2013 village wide referendum, should be looked at again as a way to generate additional revenue for the village.
“We need to continually examine every opportunity for revenue,” Mannix said. “I think we need to have another discussion.”
Entler said that a lot has changed in the two years since the referendum and the village should go back to residents to get more feedback on the issue.
“I’m definitely in favor of the dialogue taking place,” Novak said.
On what to do with the village owned Altenheim property all the candidates said that they supported improving the property but that it should remain some sort of green space.
Hosty suggested that it could have a band shell and perhaps a par three golf course.
“The Altenheim (property) could be the crown jewel of Forest Park,” Hosty said.
Novak and Entler both said the land should be some sort revenue producing green space.
“The property is the largest piece of open land left within our boundaries and we need to look at all the options carefully to ensure the use of the property best benefits the residents of Forest Park,” Entler said.
Byrnes said the Altenheim property needs to be cleaned up and said that the village needs to get input from the public about what they want from the land.
The candidates were asked what the village can do to combat flooding.
Mannix and Hosty said the village has a plan coming soon and it will need to find grant money to help pay to develop a separate sewer system for rain and storm water.
“We’re developing a multi-year plan for flood remediation,” Mannix said. “It’s going to take 18 to 25 years to actually fully fix the flooding issues facing our community. We need to get started. We’re going to have a great plan so that we can begin working on that almost immediately.”
Hosty said that it would cost $90 million and take more than 20 years to build a separate sewer system for rainwater throughout the village.
“There’s a lot of moving parts to fixing flooding and the biggest one is dollars,” Hosty said. “There is a plan coming to get moving.”
Hosty said a recent half cent increase in the village’s sales tax will help pay for the gradual construction of a separate sewer system along with money from grants from other units of government.
Hosty who has served four terms on the village council said that he is proud of his accomplishments and took credit for helping obtain grants to improve the Roosevelt Road business district and a grant to improve Madison Street west of Desplaines Avenue.
“I love Forest Park,” Hosty said. “This may sound hokey, but to me it’s a little Mayberryish. I love being part of the team that has helped set the path that the village is on today. As commissioner of accounts and finance I’ve overseen four straight years of balanced budgets.”
Hosty pointed out that both unions who represent the employees in his department have endorsed him.
Mannix, who is finishing his first term as Commissioner of Streets and Public Property touted the installation of LED street lights.
Byrnes said that just because he was on a slate with other candidates that did not mean they would all think alike and vote alike on issues should they all be elected. But Byrnes said that it is important to work together and treat people with respect.
“We have to have a cohesive unit in Village Hall that can sit down and talk over their differences,” Byrnes said.