Come summer, Forest Parkers, and those who visit here, will find a tangle of road construction projects. Referring specifically to one such project, Mayor Anthony Calderone told the village council Dec. 19, “I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s going to be a mess.”

We could not be more pleased. Our aging town needs infrastructure investment. This summer. Next summer. Forever. 

From a full re-do of long overlooked Roosevelt Road, to the repaving of a last section of Madison Street, from the half dozen alleys being remade to streets across the village being repaved and, in some cases, upgraded with new sewers, detours and delays are the price to be paid.

What’s interesting and positive about the mix of projects this construction season is the complex array of funding sources village government has cobbled together to pay for all the work. 

There are state/federal grants attached to much of the work. The major Roosevelt project, Calderone would say, is the result of effective lobbying by former Gov. Pat Quinn who found the funding. There are also monies from the village’s water fund being used. There’s TIF money coming from the Roosevelt Road special tax area. The Brookfield-North Riverside Water Commission will rightly improve local streets it disrupts as it adds capacity to its system. And, critically, there are monies from Forest Park’s Village Improvement Program (VIP), a taxpayer-approved sales tax hike that specifically funds infrastructure upgrades. Notably, many of the pennies piling into the VIP fund come from non-Forest Parkers who are shopping in town.

This is the meat-and-potatoes of local governance and Tim Gillian, the village administrator, the mayor and council deserve credit for building out this needed construction package.

Principal with a plan

How many times over the years have we heard that school principals are irrelevant?

They are demeaned as pencil-pushers and bureaucrats. It is implied they are toadies for superintendents or in the pocket of teachers. Or they are categorized as the very representation of The Peter Principle — decent teachers who have been over-promoted.

While we’ve met such principals, we’ve also been privileged to know principals who put school buildings on their backs and carried them a far piece toward excellence and accomplishment.

This week we profile Dr. Patrick Hardy. He is now in his second year as the principal of Proviso East High School. And the turnaround he is engineering, that he has planned out, that he is uniting previously disparate forces around, is nothing short of remarkable.

This was a school left for dead — done in, in part, by a succession of placeholder principals hunkered down and aiming for a pension. Dr. Hardy is candid in acknowledging the dire straits he inherited and the work still piled up ahead. And he is enthused about the measurable headway that he and his colleagues and partners have already booked.

Great principals transform schools. Proviso East is on that transformation path. That’s exciting and hopeful.

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