During a May 26 village council meeting held via Zoom, the commissioners and mayor voted four to one to confirm and extend the state of emergency in Forest Park due to COVID-19 until the next regularly scheduled council meeting.

Mayor Rory Hoskins and Commissioners Jessica Voogd, Ryan Nero and Joe Byrnes voted in favor of the extension. Commissioner Dan Novak voted against it.

Hoskins began with an update on what the village has been doing to help restaurants and bars open under the governor’s new phase three reopening guidelines, which allows outdoor but not indoor seating and service, and what expenses that might present to the village.

“We’re working with the businesses on creating more outdoor dining space and more outdoor seating space,” said Hoskins during the meeting. “Those measures could require some costs, and it’s likely that those costs will come under the category of COVID-related expenses.” An example would be Jersey barriers leased by the village to provide safety for restaurant patrons and staff if seating is allowed in parking spaces along Madison Street.

Additionally, Hoskins said the villages continues to assess its level of PPE. Upcoming purchases might include thermometers for village staff, in anticipation of opening village hall to the public soon.

But, said Hoskins, there would be “no substantial expenditures under the extraordinary spending authority that comes with this ordinance.”

He reiterated, when asked by Nero, that the purchases made under the declared state of emergency have the opportunity to be reimbursed by other levels of government.

Nero sought clarification on village decision-making under the declared state of emergency, stating that some of the decisions that might be made in the upcoming weeks might be “decisions we should be making collectively.”

“If we extend the state of emergency, does that prevent us from making these decisions together?” asked Nero. He said he was thinking in terms of reestablishing revenue streams such as turning on the parking meters and once more charging for the pay lots and the necessary enforcement if such decisions are made.

“Are [these decisions] made by yourself?” asked Nero of Hoskins.

Hoskins said that although some decisions are being made outside of council meetings, he doesn’t make them alone.

“They’re not made by myself,” said Hoskins. “Decisions are not made in a vacuum.” He said he talks regularly to Village Administrator Tim Gillian, Zoning Director Steve Glinke, and Police Chief Tom Aftanas, among other department heads and staff. Recent discussions have included the details of allowing extra outdoor space for restaurants to use for seating and serving. He also noted that he regularly speaks with commissioners offline.

The declared state of emergency is valid until the next village council meeting on June 8.