Curiosities of Forest Park: When and why did sidewalk snow removal start?

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By Curiosities of Forest Park

In years after World War II, the Village of Forest Park was bitterly divided over whether or not to have parking meters on Madison and the side streets. Meter discussions started (1947), meters were installed (1949), citizens organized and voted them out (Dec 1949), they were removed, and after the dust settled, they came in again (February 1952). Click here for more on Madison St meter history.
Just a few months later, the Village Council, led by Mayor Vernon Reich, discussed snow removal for the upcoming winter. According to the October 30, 1952, Forest Park Review, the Mayor stated that meter funds would be ample to remove snow from streets and sidewalks, not only along Madison. Commissioner Lambke expressed concern if the Village would have enough equipment, Commissioner Henry Mohr, assured the council that there was adequate equipment to remove snow from all the Village sidewalks, as they had two sidewalk scrapers available.
Snow removal jeeps were used by the village to manage the sidewalks, which included the occasional complaint from the trailing snow piles left on the driveways, to which in 1965, then Mayor Mohr wondered if the Village was "spoiling people" with such excellent service.
Then January 26, 1967 Chicagoland got hit by the Big One, 23 inches of white snow in 29 hours, which shut down stores, schools, factories, and streets everywhere, except in Forest Park. Commissioner Lambke's department cleared the streets with the help of heavy equipment from a local business, Thomas McQueen Co. The Park District Director, Jim Sarno permitted dumping of snow on the park to remove it from the streets, and local scouts cleared fire hydrants.
Many stories of Forest Parkers coming to each other's aid, rocking cars, shared food and "running' errands brought the village together in the 1967 storm, and most locals still can tell a story about how Forest Parkers pitched in together when it was needed.


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Reader Comments

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Andrew Cooper  

Posted: March 9th, 2019 3:54 PM

I think it's a good idea that needs more vetting. On my block, I try to shovel the sidewalk 2-4 houses in each direction in addition to my own, and I know my next door neighbor does, too. He frequently beats me to shoveling in front of my house. We're not the only ones. Yet there are still many sections of town that end up with snow compacted into ice. I'm not convinced everyone is ready or able to do it, at least not on every block. More than half the residents in town are renters. I doubt many have stipulations in their leases that they handle snow removal. Absentee landlords may have been able to shirk responsibility since the Village eventually clears it. There are also a lot of seniors and other people who are unable to take it on and may not have enough money to pay someone else to do it. I love the idea of neighbors helping each other out of goodwill. I'm just saying I have some concerns about enacting this as policy. The Bobcats have been providing a useful service for many even if it's delayed until streets & alleys are cleared first.

Steven Backman  

Posted: February 22nd, 2019 10:38 AM

Andrew, I understand what you are saying in theory however, I choose my words carefully whey I described the task as a "segment of the public walk". I believe that most FP properties require a person to step out and shovel their way TO the public sidewalk. What the village does is almost irrelevant. Realistically a property owner/resident gets a path about 4 feet wide at their property line. If one is already out shoveling their private walks, why not pitch in and make a simple civic contribution to our town?

Andrew Cooper  

Posted: February 22nd, 2019 8:46 AM

Many people shovel their sidewalks and neighbors sidewalks anyway. However, more than 50% of residents are renters, and there are many seniors and people unable to clear their sidewalks for one reason or another. Obviously, renters can and do shovel just as homeowners do, details of lease agreements notwithstanding. Is it realistic to expect sidewalks to be cleared and passable for residents if use of Bobcats is discontinued?

Steven Backman  

Posted: February 21st, 2019 8:45 PM

Leading up to the April elections, there has been a lot of talk from the candidates to tackle the budget deficit by increasing revenue and cutting costs. I think this the perfect opportunity to stop having the village shovel the sidewalks. Property owners can pitch in to help reduce needless village expense by shoveling their own segments of the public walks. Eliminating this unnecessary perk can allow valuable tax dollars to be reallocated towards 2 of Forest Park's very serious problems: flooding and the pension deficit.

Kathie Wojtkiewicz Regennitter from Bennett IA  

Posted: January 30th, 2019 1:58 PM

No one (except fellow Forest Parkers) believes me when I tell them about not having to shovel sidewalks...I have lived in many places and no municipality matches this service...

Joanne Leber from Forest Park  

Posted: January 30th, 2019 1:44 PM

Thanks, Uncle Mike Lambke for always watching out and helping the residents of Forest Park. Your good ideas have never been forgotten.

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