Ken Gross will officially be named Forest Park’s chief of police at a swearing-in ceremony on Friday, Nov. 12 after his appointment was unanimously approved by the village council at its bi-weekly meeting Nov. 8.
Gross, a 21-year veteran of the department who served as the deputy chief before being appointed to the top job on an acting basis in September, was designated by Mayor Rory Hoskins as the full-time chief last month. The village did not conduct an outside search to replace former chief Tom Aftanas, who served in the role since 2015.
Gross is expected to appoint Lt. Christopher Chin as deputy chief as one of his first official acts on the job. Chin will be sworn-in alongside Gross at village hall on Nov. 12 at 11 a.m.
The village council also approved a contract to make “emergency” repairs to an underground water vault that helps control the flow of Lake Michigan water into Forest Park. The vault, which is located near the intersection of Austin and Jackson boulevards in Oak Park but is owned by the village of Forest Park, was inspected in October and that inspection revealed that “steel beams at the top of the vault (just below ground level) had rusted; some of which had holes in them,” according to a village memo.
Above-ground vehicle traffic at the site of the vault has been restricted since the inspection and the project approved Nov. 8 authorizes a “complete replacement of the top of the vault facility.” Initial repairs are scheduled to be finished before the end of the year, at which point vehicle traffic will be reinstated, while final below-ground repairs will continue into 2022.
The project is being managed by Burke LLC at a cost of $25,000 and the project itself was awarded to Genco Inc. for $175,000.
In other business, the council also approved a more than $110,000 grant awarded to the Forest Park Fire Department by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grant funds, plus an approximately $5,000 matching investment by the village, will be used to purchase 14 new radios and five charging banks for the department.
FEMA announced that the Assistance to Firefighters Grant, intended to “protect the health and safety of the public and firefighting personnel against fire and fire-related hazards” was awarded to FPFD on Aug. 2.