President Joe Biden set a target for U.S. auto makers to make electric vehicles 50% of the sales share by 2030.
While Forest Park officials are under no mandate to convert their fleet to electric vehicles by 2030, many are still onboard with the idea. But for them, the devil is in the details, especially when trying to find the money to pay for them.
Commissioner Jessica Voogd is perhaps the most passionate member of the village council when it comes to creating an economically sustainable community.
“Throughout my term,” she said in an interview, “I have asked that we focus on adopting sustainable efforts and viewing our policy making through a sustainability lens.
“For example, we are exploring our options for installing vehicle charging stations in the village. We also try to include electric or hybrid vehicle options when discussing the purchase of new vehicles.”
Moses Amidei, Forest Park’s village administrator, said the village will consider purchasing electric vehicles in the future when the need for new cars and trucks arises. He noted that the village has already made plans to “stub in two pads and electric” in the employee parking lot across from village hall “to allow for the future installation of electric vehicle charging stations.”
Sal Stella, the director of public works, said he and Amidei were on the same page.
“The idea has definitely been tossed around between Moses and I to look into electric for future purchases.”
The next step for proponents is finding the money to pay for it.
Amidei said that he is open to purchasing electric cars when the village needs them and when money, especially in the form of grants from state and federal governments, becomes available. For example, the village paved the employee parking lot across from village hall with water permeable pavers that allow rainwater to soak into the ground instead of flowing as runoff into storm sewers.
That step towards sustainability was only possible because of the grant money, and a big reason why charging stations were not installed on the two pads at this time is that the grant did not cover that upgrade.
“We will also look at putting solar panels upon the roofs of our public buildings only after the replacement of the roofs take place in the future,” Amidei said, addressing another ecologically friendly idea. “It is best to install the solar panels on roofs that are newer in age, not on ones that are near the end of their lifespan.”
Looking to the future, Voogd said, “While costs, accessibility or practicality may, at times, hinder us from reaching our sustainability goals, we are working hard to ensure we hit those targets when we can.”
To that end she and Stella are in the process of starting a “fleet management plan,” including what she called an equipment fund in which they are putting money aside so that funding is available when new vehicles, including electric cars and trucks, are needed to replace old ones.
Stella added that Forest Park does already have a number of environmental initiatives in place, including seasonal tree-plantings, a compost recycling program and recycling of fleet services motor oil, among others.
Public officials are not the only ones getting involved, either. Heidi Vance, co-owner of Team Blonde salon in Forest Park, echoed the concern of village officials regarding the cost of going green, but said that it is something she would support.
“We are exploring the cost to add solar panels to our roof at Team Blonde,” she said. “We would love to do that if it’s not cost prohibitive.”
“We do try to purchase goods made with recycled components,” Vance added. “We recycle everything in the building that is possible.”