Forest Park got a good one with the news that Chef Paco Lopez is moving his New Rebozo from Oak Park to Madison Street in the village.

This is a match that will be good for Lopez and his to-be-renamed N Rebozo Mexican restaurant as he finally shifts after three decades from tenant to being the owner of his new building. It’s good for Forest Park as it fills a long-vacant restaurant space in the middle of a retail and restaurant cluster with a destination restaurant that has a devoted following.

And it’s a natural that the lamented loss of The Heritage restaurant in that space will now be followed by a restaurateur with equal passion for food and hospitality.

In the age-old competition between Oak Park and Forest Park for bragging rights, it’s noteworthy that, whenever Forest Park gets a win like this, we most always quote the newly secured entrepreneur saying, “I got a personal call from the mayor.”

Tony Calderone, the former longtime mayor, was exceptionally good at the personal, small-town charm aspects of recruiting a new business to Madison Street. It made a difference, sending a message of connection and welcome that resonates with entrepreneurs about to make a life’s investment in a business.

In our story last week, Lopez noted with enthusiasm that he had heard directly from Mayor Rory Hoskins. That is a good tradition to continue.

Two interesting projects

We report today on two planned-for, hoped-for projects in Forest Park. Both are worthy investments. Both will need more planning and, critically, more funding from (hopefully) outside government entities.

The playground at the Forest Park Community Center is ancient by safe play and inventive play standards. Estimates are that it was last touched in the 1980s. That has the kids who first played on the obsolete jungle gym nearing their 40s.

An initial and rough estimate by Village Administrator Moses Amidei pegs the cost of a full replacement and adjacent upgrades, such as fencing, at $200,000. It’s a lot but it is not a surprising number.

This is a good time for finding external funding. And Mayor Rory Hoskins takes pride in his ability to work state and federal funding sources.

We’d like to see him have success here.

Hoskins is also working the levers looking for a revenue stream beyond the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s pledge to help repave a village-owned parking lot on Des Plaines Avenue with permeable pavers. It would be a green investment that makes a small dent in the rising tide of flooding concerns in town. 

But construction and engineering costs are rising and the gap between the MWRD’s pledge and the village’s portion is starting to gape. After an interesting discussion at the board table Monday, the vote was delayed as Hoskins seeks other funding for the project.

We’re eager to see what levers he is able to work.