Before the month is out, a highly selective group of residents and property owners along the north side of the Eisenhower Expressway in Forest Park will be asked to cast binding votes as to whether they want 13- to 15-foot-tall “noise walls” constructed in their immediate neighborhood.
Not constructed next spring. Actually not constructed until the massive project to totally rebuild the Ike — adding lanes, shifting rail lines, deepening the ditch by 8 feet and raising and moving the exit ramps at Harlem to the sides of the highway — gets underway. When will that be? Truly, no one has a clue. Years, certainly. Within a decade, maybe.
So while we appreciate the power-to-the-people approach of the Illinois Department of Transportation in this single matter, we do wonder, what’s the rush? There will be people voting on this who will be dead or living in Kansas before the first lane is excavated.
In Forest Park where industrial uses, the park and cemeteries dominate the southern rim of the Ike, there will be no noise walls proposed or built. Along the highway’s north side, residents and property owners immediate to the expressway will be voting. Village Administrator Tim Gillian said he has heard few concerns or indications of strong interest expressed by Ike neighbors. And what he has heard has been largely positive.
As in Oak Park, Forest Park leaders are taking a hands-off approach to this IDOT-mandated vote.
Our position is that this vote is premature.
New lawyers. New day
In another essential step toward pulling the District 209 Proviso Township High Schools out of the political murk and backwards educational thinking represented by its legal representatives, the school board there made a major change last month.
Out is the politically-amped-up Del Galdo Law Group, with its history of generous political contributions to the candidates/board member who hired the firm. As we have said in the past, it may seem inconsequential which firm represents a district. But in reality, it is one of the most consequential choices a board makes, someplace just below choosing a new superintendent, which is also on this board’s short list.
The new board majority had pledged a change on this front from its start last spring. It then went through a thoughtful and fair bidding process in which it spelled out its expectations. Thirteen firms responded to the request for proposals. That was narrowed to five finalists, which were interviewed by the board in late October.
Specifically, the board said it wanted a firm with new thinking on the employee grievance process with more focus on mediation. It wanted lawyers ready to rethink student discipline consequences. And, in a district with a notable Hispanic population, it wanted a firm with some Spanish-speaking attorneys.
In choosing the firm Robbins Schwartz, the district believes it has met those requirements. We offer our congratulations on a job well done.