According to the calendar on our Forest Park Review smart phone, it is now just over three months since the municipal elections narrowly returned Mayor Anthony Calderone to office for his fifth term as mayor.
Voters also elected three promising newbies to the village council and we understand there is a necessary period of acclimation for Joe Byrnes, Rachell Entler and Daniel Novak. And there is some period of time necessary for the full council, which would include incumbent Tom Mannix, to coalesce and gather some confidence and some steam.
Last week Calderone sat down with The Review for an update on some specific topics.
We are glad to hear that the long-awaited engineering study on possible approaches to mitigate persistent flooding in town will now be on the agenda for the July 27 council meeting. The report, from the village’s consulting firm Christopher Burke Engineering, is billed as the most comprehensive assessment of the current serious challenges of our aged underground piping. Further, the presentation will include options for a staged approach to gradually building a “separated” sewer system.
In our interview, Calderone said two notable things. The council, he said, needs to “come up with an attack plan” based on the report. And, he rightly noted, this effort is going to take years and decades to complete.
But we’re encouraged by Calderone’s response as, 15 years ago, the village commissioned a similar report, heard similar dire assessments of the scope and cost of the work needed and then, essentially, put its head in the sand for a decade and a half. Calderone has previously said that taxpayers won’t understand the large costs (read: higher taxes) and the perceived inequity as one part of town is upgraded before others. We think that in this case, and in others, the mayor has underestimated the ability of Forest Parkers to grasp hard reality when it is presented forthrightly to them.
Time for straight talk and hard choices.
Calderone is also borrowing more time before creating his much-discussed “diversity committee.” Sure the mayor walked right into this one last fall when he started talking about the ridiculous topic of saggy pants and the dumb cultural statement it makes by its main practitioners, young black fellows. But dumb does not require legal action.
Forest Park, though, can benefit from a diverse committee of smart, good-hearted people ready to talk about a range of issues that concern the village related to race and class. Calderone’s right that this should be a “think tank” and community forum. But he should get on the stick and make this effort real.
Welcome, Fr. Stan
St. Bernardine’s has a new pastor, Rev. Stan Kuca. He said his first Masses over the weekend and offered up his first epistle in the parish bulletin, too. The early reviews from dedicated parishioners are enthusiastic. Open, collaborative, humble, genuine, funny are some of the words St. B’s faithful used to describe Kuca.
St. B’s is a special community within Forest Park. We are very pleased to see fresh energy and positive faith restored to this parish.