We’re not civil engineers so we can’t evaluate just how green a new proposal this summer for alley replacements really is. But at the last village council meeting, Forest Park’s hired engineering firm, Christopher Burke Engineering, said a new design, including “perforated catch basins” will make the new concrete alleys notably more permeable and at a cost that is comparable with traditional design. 

That’s an essential combination. Forest Park’s infrastructure needs are great, and its resources to pay for updates are limited, even with the wise sales tax hike the village put forward and voters approved in 2014 for the singular purpose of funding infrastructure.

What we particularly like in the current proposal — which will cover 3-5 alley replacements this summer — is the pragmatic way green innovation is being put forward. In the past, it seemed that Forest Park officials looked at green options as some sort of granola-fueled indulgence. Reality is this village has a huge flooding issue and solving it is going to take decades, millions of dollars, and hundreds of small choices. Guaranteeing that every dollar spent on infrastructure contributes in some way to the long, complex fix for flooding is a worthy change in philosophy.

All this talk about green alleys also makes us wonder: In the run-up to the election, Mayor Anthony Calderone promised that Christopher Burke Engineering had been working for months on a long-term, flood-prevention plan. It would be unveiled and explained to the public shortly after the campaign ended. We are ready and waiting to hear the plan in detail.

Chief Aftanas

By this time next week, it is near certain that Tom Aftanas will be Forest Park’s police chief. We expect council members will ratify Mayor Anthony Calderone’s recommendation that the deputy chief be promoted to the top job. Certainly a majority of the council have telegraphed they are leaning that way already.

We’d add our support for Aftanas. All of our dealings with the deputy chief have been direct, professional and absent an edge that has often permeated the department’s relationship with the local paper. We’ve heard similar things from residents of the village who have found Aftanas approachable and responsive. That ability to connect with all citizens is an essential talent in this precarious moment when all of us are looking for our police departments to be an integral part of the community, to know it, to respect it, to value its diversity.

Over the decades in the various communities we cover, we have seen internal candidates for police chief, men who came through the ranks, become the most powerful change agents imaginable. They weren’t hired to crack heads like outsiders sometimes are. But they also knew too much to accept the status quo. In that vein, we have high hopes for Tom Aftanas. He knows what is good with this department. We think he is also wise enough to know what change is necessary.

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