In a positive and properly open joint meeting last week, the Park District of Forest Park and the Village Council took the logical first step in assessing their options for the Roos property. The decision to have the parcel, intriguingly adjacent to the Park, appraised makes sense. Some sort of baseline for costs and value needs to be established. An appraisal will do that. The decision also reflects well on our elected officials, showing them to be forward thinking and strategic in their approach.
The discussion which followed was also thoughtful, balanced, and included just enough creativity ‚Ä"subdividing the property, for instance‚Ä" to make future dialogue worth pursuing.
There are many difficult decisions that need to be made in this process. Money is tight for both governing bodies, yet land is at a premium in the area and prices are skyrocketing, with no sign of slowing down. This is a positive sign for the village's economy as more and more real estate is added to the tax rolls at higher prices. However it also makes it difficult for local governments to purchase new land for the public good.
A strategic decision also needs to be made with regards to‚Ä"potentially‚Ä"using eminent domain powers as a way to acquire this parcel. If the village were to initiate eminent domain proceedings it would mean miring both the owner, Patrick Wangler, and the local governments in, likely, years of court hearings. On the positive side, it means more time for a cash-strapped and heavily indebted park to build some reserves. On the negative side it also means the property would stand as is for many years while we battle out a process that is never guaranteed. And, frankly, eminent domain is never an approach to be taken lightly be a government. There is a reason private property rights are respected in this nation.
Difficult decisions must be made, but open, frank discussion and forward thinking strategic planning have begun and should continue to be the norm.
Another good catch
Catching four alleged crooks and clearing up all of the village's open armed robbery cases is a definite positive step for the police department. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Officer Steve Zanoni, Lt. Stephen Weiler, and Patrol Officers Grimes and Flores.
In a time when police more often than not make headlines for what they have failed to do or for what they have done wrong, it is refreshing to talk about our local heroes for a job well done. Suffice it to say that Zanoni is a rising star in the department for having been instrumental in catching alleged Wrigleyville rapist Paul Cruikshank in January. Now we hear he was central in this latest arrest. Great job!