We’ll give the mayor credit, we suppose, for being direct enough to acknowledge that he limited participation of elected officials in a meeting to discuss the future of the village-owned property at the Altenheim because he did not want to trigger the Open Meetings Act.
That the person excluded from the meeting was Commissioner Jessica Voogd was the least surprising news of the week. That Mayor Rory Hoskins preferred to talk in private with a potential consultant about next steps at the Altenheim is also predictable. Hoskins, for all his lip service about transparency, has never been transparent about what should happen at this prime piece of open land which the village wisely purchased 20 years ago.
Perhaps that is because, year by year, the portion of those 11 acres that Hoskins wants left open, green and public just keeps shrinking. The latest version of a plan is substantially more housing oriented than public recreation focused.
We think a straight-up, fully public conversation about preserving open space would elicit strong support for that vision and little backing for another batch of townhomes on the last wide-open space in the village. But Hoskins has never wanted to have that conversation, so he has exercised his advantage by controlling the process.
And that now manifests itself in a tight little circle of discussion including only two elected officials, Hoskins and Commissioner Maria Maxham, to guide the proposed consultant’s role in “putting the meat on those bones” of the general recommendations from the Altenheim Advisory Commission.
Not a strong show of support for open government by this mayor.
So long, Joe
Joe Byrnes has offered a life of service to Forest Park. Now, with his departure from the village council after two worthy terms, Byrnes will most certainly continue to be visible and active in the village as a volunteer.
Let us join so many others in thanking Joe for his efforts on so many fronts. After nearly a decade of military service, he was a Forest Park police officer, starting in 1974. He served at almost every rank within the department and retired after 25 years as deputy chief. He was elected to the park district board and then ran for village council.
He is a generous presence whether at the board table, volunteering, or in a casual encounter on a village street. He has served this village extraordinarily well and this is a better community for his service.