The Forest Park Village Council, Feb. 22, started the ball rolling on the second phase of the reconstruction of Madison Street. Following a similar project on the west half of Madison in 2015, the 2016 project, from Desplaines to Harlem avenues, involved updating landscaping and grinding and resurfacing the street plus spot curb repairs.
Forest Park officials unveiled the long-talked-about village Diversity Commission at the May 23 council meeting, approving the ordinance creating it, and appointing six residents to serve on it. Critics noted that the appointees were all white, which changed with the addition of an African-American member in October.
On May 23, the council hired Business Districts Inc. of Evanston as an economic development consultant. Bridget Lane, one of the firm’s principals and a Forest Park resident, was identified as the village’s main contact.
Deputy Chief Bob McDermott became Forest Park’s new fire chief, June 27, replacing Steve Glinke, who retired as fire chief but stayed with the village as director of public health and safety. In August, Phil Chiappetta replaced McDermott as deputy chief.
Forest Park officials expressed support for resident Ralph DiFebo’s concept to create a cultural center on vacant village-owned property near the Altenheim Retirement Home following his presentation at the Aug. 22 village council meeting. In December, Mayor Anthony Calderone announced plans to create an ad-hoc committee to formally study the plan.
The council voted to purchase a new fire engine and a new ambulance, Sept. 12. The majority of the new fire engine cost of $450,000 was to be paid by a Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighters Program grant. The village was to borrow money to finance the remainder of that purchase, the purchase of the new ambulance and purchases of other vehicles and equipment.
The Forest Park Village Council grudgingly voted, Sept. 26, to close its 911 center by summer 2017 and join the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center (WESCOM). Commissioner Rachell Entler cast the opposing vote. With the decision, Forest Park capitulated to a state of Illinois mandate that smaller municipalities combine municipal dispatch operations. WESCOM, based in River Forest, oversees emergency requests for Oak Park, River Forest, Park Ridge and Elmwood Park.
A former Forest Park couple accepted a $29,000 settlement from the village in return for dropping a federal lawsuit claiming their prominent next-door neighbors conspired with the Forest Park Police Department to harass them and that the harassment eventually drove them out of their Elgin Avenue home. The settlement was approved by the Forest Park Village Council on Nov. 14. The $29,000, which includes legal fees, was to be paid through the village’s insurance. Gladys Perez and her husband, Miguel Magallanes, had earlier filed the suit against Park District of Forest Park Commissioner Eric Entler and his wife, Village Council Commissioner Rachell Entler; the village of Forest Park; and members of the Police Department.
The wheels of the long-anticipated Roosevelt Road reconstruction and streetscape project were put in motion by Forest Park officials at the Dec. 19 meeting. The $4.75 million project, scheduled for summer of 2017, was to include pavement resurfacing from Harlem to Desplaines avenues; pedestrian bumpouts at all intersections; additional streetscape features at the bumpout locations, including landscaped planters, benches, trash receptacles and stamped/colored pedestrian crosswalks; landscaped median islands; and replacement of all street lighting with decorative street lighting. Costs were to be covered by $2.46 million from the tax increment financing fund and a $2.290 million grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation.