Infrastructure 2019

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Forest Park will marshal a full range of resources in 2019 to fund essential infrastructure investments. We're talking $8.5 million. This is a solid and ambitious plan that, in part, addresses flooding issues which become profound when increasingly serious storms pound the village.

The plan was presented to the village council on Dec. 17 by Tim Gillian, village administrator, and Jim Amelio, a contracted village engineer. Gillian emphasized that, in a time when Forest Park's general fund is overstretched, all funding for 2019 projects comes from other sources.

The village is dipping notably into two Tax Increment Finance district funds. One is the Brown Street TIF on the north end. The other is the Roosevelt/Hannah TIF fund. Additionally, relatively modest contributions will come from the village's water fund and from the infrastructure-focused Village Improvement Program (VIP).

Happily, a good portion of the planned funding will come from outside of town. Aggressive pursuit of grant funding from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) is expected to pay off with a $1.1 million award. If the state of Illinois begins to actually function once more, some $800,000 in state funding — first won but never received in 2014 — will pay for most of the repaving of the CTA parking lot at the Blue Line and the installation of a new backup generator at a water pumping station.

The sewer work will reflect various stages of progress in finally addressing the village's long-term flooding mess. Key is separating storm water and sewage flows so that storm water can be actively diverted. Such efforts will be made both north and south on Circle Avenue.

All involved acknowledge that 2019 upgrades to sewers are simply a positive step in a long and costly process. The improvements will be of use in minimizing basement flooding in certain areas, but this is not a silver bullet.

It's also encouraging to see Forest Park invest in its third "green alley." Again, aimed at lessening the impact of storm water run-off during downpours, a green alley meshes concrete with permeable pavers which absorb and retain water in the soil below. At nearly $300,000 per block, green alleys will only gradually become more common in town. But this is a worthy investment.

With municipal election season now underway, seeking detailed and doable plans for a mid- and long-term sewer infrastructure plan — including funding mechanisms — will be a key question that every candidate running for the council and the two mayoral candidates must be prepared to answer. As always, no one is looking for made-up, quick-fix answers. This is going to take time and money. Having a plan is the thing.

An 'It Too' movement

A small observation: There is no humor ever to be found in the #MeToo Movement. There is no innocent explanation for trying to make a joke. There is no getting off the hook by claiming it wasn't your intention.

Collectively our consciousness has been raised. If you are not there? Keep quiet. Especially if you are an elected official.

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