Raising the bar for development in Forest Park
Here are some new perspectives towards Forest Park's community development process and suggestions for reform. The most common frustration and challenge is the failure of our present Forest Park regulatory system to "put it all together."
Planning policies are vague and, specifically, the Forest Park Village Council's decision making process is far too dependent on vetting preliminary information on every case by case development issue. This reliance on sending the issues through the bureaucratic filters offers little special attention to discussion including: dialogue for research, creative exploration and planned development. There is no interdependent dialogue between boards/commissions and other stakeholders and no consistent outreach to other state and federal agencies.
There does not seem to be an awareness of adverse conditions caused by sprawl or an appreciation to educate the community to encourage participation in the culture of historic preservation. How smart are we on smart growth? This is why we have in the Mayor's words "contentious projects." Could this approach be considered as one dimensional, subjective, and reactive rather than proactive? The comprehensive plan has certainly lost its luster. This is because of no built in maintenance feature to let it evolve and demonstrate flexibility and promote direction when needed change is truly a moving target. The comprehensive plan must at least keep pace.
This confusion is only amplified as every regulatory commission's standard operating procedure is a form of percentage planning translated through Robert's Rules. It seems to be an odd way and archaic notion of negotiation based on a statistical comparison that only relates to codification and legalese. Most of the results are anomalies that spawn opportunities for precedent that developers love to take advantage of. Send lawyers guns and money to find a way. We are repeatedly told of a global vision to aim for yet there is no visual tool or mention of esthetics or civic design. What would you conclude if your TV or computer screen were blank after you turn it on? Clearly usage and creation of visual guidelines would greatly help all the commissions to appraise and evaluate more effectively.
There is a lesson to be learned from the past and current Roos project. John Schiess is a design professional. As an architect he can be admired as one who practices and appreciates vision. He has an illustrious and well illustrated track record spanning over 18 years in the business. His projects encompass a range from single family residences to beyond.
He understands structural and design elements of older buildings and their redemption. He creates a new version of an older style taking a cue from the past's rich artisan tradition and venerable building materials while bringing modern function into play. Schiess is also sensitive and respectful to urban neighborhood diversity, complex fabric and its unique sustainability.
This reality based architecture reflects cycles of change that are better reconciled because a relationship exists. That identified relationship is between community, individual conditions, rights and their governance. That balance will never be perfect. He admits that a bit of resistance is a healthy and desirable trait for a regulatory process. He exhibits high expectations for the long term.
It would be unfair to call him the Anti- Pat Wangler because his proposed development at the Roos building has not only raised the bar for Forest Park, but will bring it to a whole new community spirited level. He addressed and resolved the density issues, kept a historical structure from being needlessly destroyed, increased green space, and came up with a pretty innovative idea for parking while retaining a façade and the original tower. He will do what his predecessor said across the board couldn't be done. Good bye back-door man.
Mr. Schiess is also a "front porch guy" that celebrates this unique American home treasure. The open front porch is a traditional building feature that bridges the private spaces to the public landscapes in all great American neighborhoods, It exemplifies human scale and civility. A lot of Forest Park homes have one. Kudos to Mr. Schiess and his team for their designs and to a true renaissance of Forest Park development. He has painted us a picture of what could be. For additional commentary on the porch please read The American Porch: An Informal Histoty of an Informal Place by Michael Dolan
Thanks to all the resistance folks who signed the Roos petition. You can be proud that taking that stand was the right thing to do!
Fireworks display was 'most spectacular' ever
On behalf of the Board of Park Commissioners of the Park District of Forest Park, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the following individuals and businesses that made financial contributions, donated prizes or gift certificates or provided in-kind donations for our 39th Annual Fourth of July Celebration: American Legion Post 7181, Joan and Mike Bigos, Carriage Flower Shop, Curves, Ed's Way Super Market, Ento Pest Control, Ferrara Pan Candy Co., Forest Park Firefighters Assn., Forest Park Liquor Association, Forest Park National Bank, Forest Park Stucco, Golden Steer Restaurant, Chris Guillen Photography Group, H & R Auto Inc., Harlem Maenner & Damenchor, Harrison Street Care, Hideaway, Jimmy's Place, Kay's Bakery, Krazy About Kids, Ladies Workout World, Cliff and Joanne Leber, Mohr Oil Co., Panda Studios Dancers, PEL, Reich and Becker, Schauer's Ace Hardware, Spotless Car Wash, Starbucks Coffee, Submarine Tender, Team Blonde, Trage Bros., Ultra Food, Forest Park VFW Post 414 and Wilbert Burial Vaults.
We would also like to thank the following vendors that participated in the event: Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor, Dekos, Forest Park Eagles Aerie 1344, Forest Park Youth Soccer Assn., Harlem Maenner & Damenchor and the Kiwanis Club of Forest Park.
If you missed this year's fireworks display, just ask anyone that was there and I'm sure that they will tell you that this year's extravaganza was, by far, the biggest, loudest and most spectacular display in the 39 year history of Fourth of July fireworks at the Park District of Forest Park. That was all made possible by a resolution authorizing an intergovernmental agreement between the Village of Forest Park and the Park District of Forest Park which provided for the collection and expenditure of donations for an expanded scope of the fireworks display.
In conjunction with the Village's vehicle license application form, individuals were able to make a voluntary donation that went directly towards the fireworks display. Those donations were an addition to the Park District's yearly budgeted amount for the fireworks. In the program's first year a total of $4,620 was raised to expand the display. We would like to thank the village council for providing the opportunity to raise additional funds through the sale of the vehicle stickers, and we are extremely grateful to all of the residents and business owners who participated in the donation program. The amount was overwhelming for the first year of the program and, judging from the numerous phone calls and e-mails that we have received praising the fireworks display, your generosity was truly appreciated. A special thank you to New Horizon Pyrotechnics for their professional expertise in giving us a show to remember for years to come. It was outstanding.
Our appreciation is extended, as always, to the mayor and village council of Forest Park and the police, fire and public works departments for their continued support.
Last, but not least, we wish to thank all of the volunteers that truly make this community celebration possible. Without their help, an event of this size could never take place. Thank you for giving your time for the enjoyment of others, especially on a holiday.
Director, Park District of Forest Park
Improved bus service shortens airport trip
Now save 45 to 60 minutes getting to O'Hare by public transportation! CTA has just started something wonderful and smart.
You can now catch the regular #90 Harlem CTA bus outside the Harlem Green Line Terminal on South Boulevard, take it north all the way to the Blue Line at Harlem and Higgins, then hop on the el for the short final stretch to O'Hare. Just about an hour.
The new return trip is the same. The regular #90 Harlem Ave. bus now extends south to the Green Line station rather than stopping at Grand Ave. and abandoning a rider to a long wait for transfer to a Pace bus to continue south.
As a Forest Parker I've usually taken CTA to O'Hare by boarding the Green Line at Harlem, riding all the way downtown and transferring to the Blue Line to double back to O'Hare. If anyone else has done that, they know it takes about two hours.
CTA is just experimenting with this new route extension for 90 days (effective June 18) to see if there's sufficient ridership to maintain it. I urge everyone in our area who hates high gas prices, pollution, or wasting time and money to try this great Harlem route. It's an easy way to get to Harlem-Irving Plaza too, or anywhere else along Harlem.
If you haven't ridden CTA in a long time you'll be pleased at the new comfortable, accessible, clean buses that even have automated audible and visible stop announcements. Buses run about every 10-12 minutes 5 a.m. through 11 p.m. CTA fare to O'Hare via this route is $2.25. Bring exact change for the bus if you don't have a CTA fare card already.
For more information about this great new service improvement you can call 1-800-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282) or TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891) or log on to www.transitchicago.com.