Forest Park’s village council on Monday set in motion a plan to craft a new Tax Increment Finance District at Harlem and Circle to replace a TIF that is due to expire at the close of 2023.
This was not the original plan. Village Administrator Moses Amidei has spent much of this year working one-by-one to line up support from the 10 other local taxing bodies impacted by a TIF to extend the existing district for another 12 years. He seems to have lined up that support, but the village fears it might run out of time for the state legislature to sign off on the agreement after it failed to get approved during the recent session.
The next iteration of the TIF will shift a bit, with fewer residential properties included but adding commercial properties heading south on Harlem toward Madison. That is a strong idea as that stretch of Harlem, from the former CVS to the oversized Athletico facility are ripe for redevelopment once the economy turns. Having TIF dollars available to spur such development would be a wise course.
Most immediate, says Amidei, is a need to continue to have a source of funding when long-delayed plans to remake the tri-village railroad underpass at Harlem and Circle inevitably reaches the top of the state’s infrastructure list. Forest Park will need to join River Forest and Oak Park in coughing up millions for the rebuild. That is a worthy project.
We remain more than dubious about another project on the TIF to-do list proposed by the village. The hideous, rusted and purposeless water tower tucked into the CTA work yard at the terminus of the Green Line is a real eyesore. But it is the CTA’s eyesore and the CTA’s problem to solve. While it is hard to look at, it is not the responsibility of Forest Park taxpayers to funnel a nickel to demolish it.
Village does itself proud
Let’s start with the joy of Friday evening’s Forest Park Pride celebration. A big and happy crowd gathered at Constitution Court. Young and old, happily diverse, actively inclusive. The eight fabulous drag performers stole the show, of course.
Along a Madison Street lined with simple and vibrant Pride flags and the recently repainted Pride colors on the actual street there is no mistaking Forest Park’s embrace of the LGBTQ+ community.
The joy multiplies in the directness of the political statement that such a celebration reflects in this pitiful moment of anti-gay hate that we see on so many fronts from a sad group of fearful people. Mayor Rory Hoskins has been strong on this front since his election. And his declaration on Friday that Forest Park “is a very progressive community” is resounding. And more than notable.