As a small village with limited funds and sometimes notable ambitions, Forest Park needs to be innovative in how it tackles challenges that fall outside the nuts and bolts of plowing snow, policing and collecting the trash.
We are seeing that in action right now on two fronts as the village looks to allocate more of its federal COVID relief funds.
On the business development front, Village Administrator Moses Amidei seems receptive to a request from the Forest Park Chamber for an increase in marketing funds. And the chamber may also be tapped to administer a small business grant program. The village council rightly wants more details on how the chamber would manage these funds.
That said, it is long past time for village government to finally stop yo-yoing the chamber in relation to its annual funding. Forever and more there is an annual tug over whether the chamber is going to get funding and the always-modest amount is never certain. Not much of a partnership if the village is intentionally relying on the chamber to function as its de facto business recruiting and retention arm, as its marketing lead, and now to oversee a small business grant program.
Hard for the chamber to ever make more than a 12-month plan or build out any sort of staffing infrastructure. And that means momentum is hard to achieve while motivation to lead is diminished.
This is a relationship that needs nurturing and steadiness.
Meanwhile, a small fund — $30,000 — may be created out of ARPA funds to get Forest Park modestly into the critical area of mental health services. The village certainly does not have the capacity, financial or otherwise, to provide such services directly. But in a moment when the need for such services is on the rise and the stigma that prevented people from seeking help is finally diminishing, Forest Park is seeking to be a connector of existing services. That’s a worthy role.
And as our Igor Studenkov reports today, the village is also at work building a collaboration with one other taxing body, the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission, to stage a mental health expo in the spring. We are certain there are other collaborations to be built.
This is good work. And it is staged at a level that fits Forest Park’s capacity and its heart.
Unifying the parks identity
We are not usually fans of local government branding efforts. Typically expensive and ultimately underwhelming, they sometimes have the feel of vanity projects.
That is not our take on the new effort out of the Park District of Forest Park. As the house afire park district keeps adding parks and projects to its portfolio, creating a simple but shared logo and brand makes all kinds of sense. Right now the district is using multiple and disconnected logos for The Park (which could use an actual name), the recreation center, and the pool. That doesn’t count the four pocket parks it has taken charge of.
Connecting these proud dots is an important next step.