The welcome partnership between the Park District of Forest Park and West Suburban Special Recreation Association (WSSRA) has paid a handsome dividend with receipt of a $2.5 million grant from the state of Illinois to help fund construction of a new park district facility on Harrison Street. 

That money will fund approximately a third of the total cost of the facility. Jackie Iovinelli, executive director at the park district, credited State Senate President Don Harmon with securing the grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development. And she told the park board last week, more grant money will be actively pursued once the parks and WSSRA wrap up a more formal pact in the near future.

The park district and WSSRA have been working on this partnership from the start of discussions about this expansion on the south side of Harrison — opposite the district’s longtime main park campus. It is a natural and positive partnership. Forest Park is already a longtime member of WSSRA, a co-op of 13 members which pools resources to organize programs and activities for residents with disabilities. The co-op is happy to shift its offices to Forest Park as it sits more centrally among its members. Right now it’s Franklin Park.

Also good news — since any construction is still a good ways off — this week the park district will take down construction fencing around its new property and open up the green space to the public for informal use. Green space in Forest Park is always welcome.

Getting after lead pipes

There are grants. There are loans. And there are forgivable loans. Forest Park’s village government has scored a forgivable loan of $2.35 million from the state government’s version of the EPA. The loan will help make a legitimate start on the necessary, and mandated, process of removing lead water pipes from Forest Park.

Village hall leaders have some work to do in planning how this vast undertaking will begin next year. As you would expect, it is complicated as it involves both major water mains and thousands of direct connections from those mains to individual homes and commercial buildings throughout the village. Depending on the strategy adopted, it will affect the terms of the loan. 

That’s all good. We have confidence the village administrator and his colleagues will forward a solid plan in the months ahead. We are grateful there is notable state help available to a community such as Forest Park to get this public health and infrastructure process underway.