No one likes being bossed around. And it is particularly frustrating when the bossiness emanates from Springfield, the capital of the most dysfunctional state government in the nation.
But the one-size-fits-all mandate on consolidating 911 dispatch services came down from Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislature. As a result, smaller urban suburbs with fully functional 911 systems such as Forest Park are now forced, alongside farm towns which really need aggregated 911 services mandated, to partner up with other towns in a shared dispatch arrangement.
Monday night, an ornery village council voted with great reluctance to join the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center. That logically pairs Forest Park police and fire dispatch with Oak Park, River Forest, Elmwood Park, and less logically, Park Ridge.
It was clear that the main source of the sting for Mayor Anthony Calderone is in the loss of jobs for well-regarded and veteran village dispatch employees. There are eight local dispatchers and it is uncertain how many, if any, of them will be hired into the consolidated center. For a loyalist such as Calderone, that hurts.
All that said, there is logic in consolidating dispatch. That is why Oak Park, River Forest and Elmwood Park joined forces years back without any state mandate. This is a government service reliant on ever-improving technology, best paid for on a shared basis. There are also efficiencies to be found here and that makes us confident that, over the course of years, Forest Park will see financial benefit to this mandated change.
Our broader point would be that Forest Park and other neighboring communities need to continue to look for ways to share services. The cost of government is too high in all these towns. And residents don’t much care where their 911 call is answered so long as a responsive police officer shows up quickly at their door.
An innovative idea a couple of years ago for several local towns to share a police shooting range at Triton has seemingly evaporated. But that impulse was correct. Where else can savings be found? Where else can a service such as police training be improved with a shared facility?
We get the reluctance on the dispatch center being “jammed down our throats,” as the mayor said Monday night. But let’s not have that upset spoil the notion of collaborative service sharing.
Congratulations are in order for two Forest Park restaurants.
Welcome and good fortune to The Heritage, the newest fine dining spot on Madison Street. With serious reputations on Chicago’s culinary scene, its operators have brought something special to Forest Park. It will be both a destination for travelers from the city and a neighborhood spot to be enjoyed.
Meanwhile, the owner and head chef of Scratch Kitchen, an inventive and scrappy Forest Park start-up, is taking on a notable expansion with a much larger second location in Oak Park. Scratch is aiming for a quick opening on Lake Street near Oak Park Avenue with its menu of creatively imagined burgers and other staples of the good life.
A widening two-way street seems to be opening commercially between these two communities, which is healthy and, we trust, will continue to benefit both.