It is good to see the Forest Park Police Department and village government responding to recent signs of increased drug use in a small pocket of land on the north bank of the Ike where it runs up against the community garden.
Village officials believe there is a connection between discovery of many used syringes and other drug paraphernalia just south of the chain link fence there and homeless people who regularly panhandle at the top of the bridge to the Eisenhower. Officials also believe that actions last year by the village and Cook County’s highway department to thoroughly fence off a drug-use enclave on the direct opposite side of the highway along Harlem may have just displaced the users.
Mayor Rory Hoskins has reached out to Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson and the Illinois Department of Transportation looking for help on the fence project. We hope they will be responsive and that the tactic is effective.
However, Forest Park, small though it is, has a responsibility to also work collaboratively with social service agencies to attempt to provide help to both homeless people working the bridge and, if they are the same or not, to drug users who have simply found an out-of-the-way spot to feed their habit.
Housing Forward, based out of Maywood, does the hard, sometimes determinedly unsuccessful, work to bring this subsection of homeless people in off the streets. Proviso Township government is charged with providing social services such as drug treatment in the township.
Nothing simple here. Nothing guaranteed to work. But social service efforts should always be coupled with police enforcement and ever-higher fences.
Things we like
Forest Parkers on Honor Flights
It is always moving to see U.S. military veterans return home from an Honor Flight. This month five Forest Park vets were included in a Sept. 16 flight that brought 114 veterans to Washington D.C. for a day of recognition and honor.
Just two of those 114 vets served in World War II. Now as death takes that generation, the recognition goes to veterans of Korea and Vietnam. So it was that all five of Forest Park’s finest were veterans of those two less-remembered, more controversial wars.
Honored were Donald Lines, Dennis Close, Clifford Lieber, Gary Steger and Joe Byrnes. Byrnes returned home to a career as a Forest Park police officer and, ultimately, deputy chief. These days he is a Forest Park village commissioner.
Credit to Mary Norge-Drent, retired from teaching in the Forest Park Middle School. She now helps coordinate Honor Flights from the Chicago area:
We are in the window honoring vets from Korea and Vietnam. But more difficult and controversial wars have followed, and the time will come for those vets to make these flights. We all need to do better to ensure that honoring those who served is unconditional.
The street where you live:
We’ve reported before, and will again, on the efforts of John Cunningham and Rob Sall to make their south Forest Park neighborhood bloom. They came back to mind with the lovely fall display they and their many fellow volunteers have mounted along Harvard.
There is the beauty, the affirmation, the calm and the connection that these ongoing gardens offer to each of us.
And we offer our thanks.