Mayor Rory Hoskins plans to revive the village government’s Diversity Commission, which has been dormant for the past few years. He also plans to resurrect the Forest Park Youth Commission, which disbanded in the early 2010s.
The mayor made the announcement during the April 10 village council meeting – the first meeting since he was re-elected for a second term by a decisive margin. Hoskins said he is looking to revive them in response to interest from residents, and, in case of the youth commission, because he believed that Forest Park could do more to serve and support teens.
As mayor, Hoskins can make appointments on his own schedule, with the council voting to either confirm or deny them – though, in practice, that tended to be a formality. Hoskins didn’t give a clear timeline for when the revived commissions might be up and running, saying only that he expects to make appointments in the next few months.
During the pandemic, many Forest Park advisory committees and commissions fell by the wayside. While they were still listed as active bodies on the village website, they hadn’t met in years. Over the past year, Hoskins took steps to change that, reviving the Environmental Control Commission and revamping the Forest Park Board of Health as more of a mental health advisory board.
Similar to the Environmental Control Commission and the Board of Health, a Youth Commission is still on the books. The village code defines its duties as “cooperat[ing] with the mayor, village council and other village departments, agencies and officials in carrying out a comprehensive program of youth welfare and activities,” and developing and recommending policies that would benefit youth.
The code calls for the commission to have 14 members “together with such advisory members as shall be deemed necessary,” but doesn’t specify any qualifications or term lengths other than the fact that they must be Forest Park residents.
Hoskins said that he intends to “revamp” the youth commission with the goal of figuring out ways to support teens ages 13-17. The issue, he said, is that they tend to age out of programs for younger kids, such as the ones run by the Mohr Community Center, and there are no age-appropriate alternatives.
A Diversity Commission was created in 2016. The village municipal code describes it as “a resource for experience and information on diversity issues” that would “facilitate awareness and promote the understanding and acceptance of all people through “educational and social programs.” The code calls for it to have nine members appointed for staggered three-year terms.
Hoskins said the Diversity Commission’s mission would more likely see some changes as well. He said that, as with the youth commission, the major reason for reviving it was that some residents expressed interest in serving on it.
“It became sort of abandoned during the height of COVID, but we’re seeing renewed interest in participating [in advisory bodies] across the board in Forest Park,” Hoskins said.