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Resident Ryan Nero has thrown his name into the ring of commissioner candidates, saying he felt inspired to run after being involved on various local boards and seeing the high voter turnout in last month’s election. Nero serves on the ad hoc Cultural Park Committee and is chairman of the village’s Safety & Traffic Commission.

“With the last election and turnout of voters on the issue of video gaming, it really sparked my intrigue in how divided our community can be on certain issues. I can be the catalyst to reunite this great village of Forest Park because I really love this Madison Street community we have here,” said Nero, noting he was in favor of video gaming solely for the money it provided for the village, but “it went out for a vote, the people of the village of Forest Park spoke, and now it’s time to move on.” The challenge, he said, will be for the village to find new revenue streams to fill video gaming’s void. 

“The most important thing is really trying to balance fiscal responsibility with sound judgments here. I want to find ways for our community to do more with less, by coming up with innovative ideas and sharing resources with neighboring government bodies,” he said. “We must be willing to look at real property tax relief.”

Nero named partnering on public bid projects and merging accounting services as examples of ways to share resources with neighboring villages. He also believes the ad hoc Cultural Park Committee’s idea of selling the north end of the Altenheim property would “provide a source of funding to jump-start the project” of creating a Cultural Park. 

The committee recommended to village officials in September that they sell a portion on the north end of the property to a developer and use the proceeds to retire outstanding debt; pay to demolish crumbling structures on the south end, including the chapel; and fund a feasibility study. The committee also suggested that village officials create a tax increment financing (TIF) district along Madison and Van Buren and use proceeds for sidewalks and street improvements, including traffic signals where Van Buren intersects Desplaines and Madison. 

“This is a place where I’m raising my son. I want not only my child, but my neighbors’ children, riding bikes, walking around the streets of the neighborhood, playing at the parks. It’s something people before me enjoyed and I want that to continue,” he said. “The condition of our parks, the places we play on, that’s a big issue for me.” 

Nero has a son enrolled at St. Luke School in River Forest. As the director of safety at a construction firm, he points to his skills bringing people together as an asset for the village. He said he will not be running with a slate. 

“It’s going to be important, whatever the makeup of the village council is, the ability to work together on all issues,” Nero said. “Honestly, not everybody’s going to agree on everything all the time. It’s being able to come together and remove your personal views on perhaps people and social or economic status and focus on achieving success for the greater good of Forest Park.”  

In addition to being a once “avid member of the Forest Park Little League,” residents might also recognize Nero from riding around town in the iconic “Cubs Car,” an old, Elmhurst police squad car he purchased and decorated with Chicago Cubs decal in 2016, the year the Cubs won the World Series. The old car had 108,000 miles on it when he purchased it and the Cubs had gone 108 years without a World Series win. Residents can see him driving around town during the spring and summer.

“One of the charms of this neighborhood is the fact that we’re accommodating. You walk down Madison Street, show up at Schauer’s Hardware and everybody knows you by name, knows the issues you have — especially me with my lawn issues. You get an ice cream cone and they ask about your son and know him by name. These are the types of things that are the heartbeat of Forest Park.”

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com