The Village of Forest Park is looking to install an electric vehicle (EV) charging station at the southeast corner of Constitution Court on Madison Street.

While the EV charger company 350 Green LLC installed a charging station in the south end of Constitution Court’s parking meter median back in the early 2010s, Village Administrator Moses Amidei said it is no longer functional, and the company went out of business years ago.  That is why, in recent years, the village tried to find a replacement. While Forest Park was able to obtain a $7,500 grant to install two charging station at Constitution Court, it failed to secure an Invest in Cook grant, and the village’s average income is too high to qualify for most other grants.

During the Feb. 27 village council meeting, Amidei laid out an alternative plan that would involve one charger instead of two and put it on the east side of Constitution Court, near the utility boxes at the southeast corner. The village would also be looking into leasing a charging station rather than buying it to give Forest Park more flexibility as the technology changes. While the council didn’t settle on whether the charger would have one plug or two plugs, overall, they expressed support of the concept. 

The Metropolitan Mayors Caucus awarded the grant in April 2022. Forest Park was still on the hook for the remaining $65,000 in estimated project costs.

As a result, Forest Park reconsidered its plans. During the Feb. 27 meeting, Amidei proposed going from two charging stations to one. And instead of having the charger on the island, he proposed putting them between the two parking spots near the southeast corner of the parking lot. 

Amidei said the village was looking at getting a higher-capacity, quicker-charging station, which would mean extending the power supply from one of the utility boxes at the south edge of Constitution Court. Extending the power supply from the closest box to the previous location would cost “over $15,000,” but extending the power supply from the smaller supply boxes on the southeast corner to the southeast parking spaces would be cheaper. Putting a charging station a few feet from those boxes would cost around $5,000, and putting a charging station between the two parking spaces on the southeast side would cost around $7,700.

Amidei said that he checked with the Mayors Caucus if Forest Park could make those changes and got their go-ahead. And while the original deadline to start the project was March 31, 2023, it got extended to May 2023.

Amidei recommended leasing a charging station for five years instead of buying it outright. This would give the village flexibility “if the technology changes or we find another vendor” and avoid a repeat of the current situation. 

Mayor Rory Hoskins said he was personally in favor of a two-plug charging station at the east side of Constitution Court, but the commissioners expressed no particular preference.

With $7,000 to spend on electricity and the five-year lease for such a station expected to be worth around $12,000, the cost of the project went down to $19,700 – which brought Forest Park’s share down to $12,200.

Commissioner Ryan Nero wondered if charging will be free. Amidei said that, while the village will pay the electric bill up front, the customers will pay to use the charging station.

Commissioner Jessica Voogd believed that a working EV charging station would benefit the Madison Street corridor.

“A few of my friends have to charge their electric vehicles, and they look for places to do so,” she said. “[While their vehicle is charging], people will grab a bite to eat, go shopping.”