In Forest Park, like any town, there are issues that continue and carry over from the old year to the new. And then there are fresh topics and opportunities, which will start new in 2016.
By late winter, expect to see crews return to the west end of Madison Street to put the final touches on the handsome redo of that portion of the street. A Forest Park-led collaboration with River Forest (and using mainly state funds), this is a good project that will, hopefully extend the resurgence of Madison several blocks further west. (A redo further east along Madison is also planned.)
We’d also put in a plug here for Forest Park to actively seek out further projects where the village can collaborate with neighboring towns.
This should also be the year when we see headway on Roosevelt Road, with both major streetscape efforts and a new TIF being readied. While we all look at Madison as the heart and soul of town, it is Roosevelt that drives property and sales tax revenues for Forest Park. The upside along Roosevelt is huge if the TIF, over time, is used strategically to bring new business.
Forest Park finally took essential, but only very early, steps in 2015 to face up to the chronic flooding problems our obsolete sewer system creates. The scope of the problem was fully presented by consultants to the village and options for a phased plan were offered. All of it is hugely expensive, which had made village leaders hesitant over years to address the elephant directly. The reaction of the public was clear: “Of course it is going to cost us. What took you so long?”
Now is the time to make the actual decisions to get this lengthy process started.
Speaking of holdover decisions, Forest Park should just get it over with and vote on the issue of allowing video gaming. As ever, we oppose this concept as short-sighted and believe that inevitably it will undermine the genuine upgrades the town has made to its image as a destination for dining and shopping. But it seems clear from last spring’s election that the mayor and commissioners have been reconsidering this issue.
Here are two issues that Mayor Anthony Calderone, and only the mayor, can move on: This has to be the year of The Altenheim property. There is no rational explanation for delaying a thoughtful, invigorating planning process for this village-owned jewel. Why Calderone has perpetually dragged his feet on this is beyond odd. Here’s a case where recently elected commissioners must seek to influence the mayor.
And it is time for the mayor to either appoint a community relations commission as he initially promised or pronounce the idea dead. We believe Forest Park can only benefit from talking about our racial diversity.
Here are two key hires to be made in 2016: The Proviso Township High School board gets one shot at its most important hire, that of a new superintendent this spring. And the Forest Park Public Library will hire a replacement for the retiring Rodger Brayden.