Mayor Ostenburg Stresses Economic Development, Green Efforts in State of Village Address

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Mayor Ostenburg (left) enjoys remarks by DuShon Brown at the opening of the Park Forest Bark District. Ms. Brown won the contest to name the dog park. Her daughter Zoe is in front. (Photo: VOPF)

Mayor John Ostenburg delivered his annual State of the Village address at the annual luncheon, sponsored by the Matteson Area Chamber of Commerce. His remarks follow, as prepared for delivery.

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Again, as in previous years, I want to express my appreciation to the Matteson Area Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring this annual event, during which our various communities have the chance to highlight what we have done during the previous year, and what we hope to accomplish during the next.

For the most part, these programs seem to focus on economic development activities, and certainly I will include some of those in my remarks today. However, I believe many other important things also are occurring in Park Forest, and they too need to be spoken about in this venue.

On the economic development side, we continue to work with the developer who has purchased the Norwood Square property. The current economic downturn has made progress on that project slower than we would have hoped, but we remain optimistic nonetheless. The recent expansion of Western Avenue adds to the potential for this piece of commercial real estate to produce great results for us once the economic climate changes.

Likewise, we continue to work with our neighboring communities of Matteson and Olympia Fields on the transit-oriented development that is planned for Lincoln Highway at the Metra train intersection. This project also has been slowed by the current financial crisis our nation is facing, but this also is positioned to be one of our major economic developments within the next couple of years.

Our downtown development during the past year has included recruiting a new grocery store, which we are working hard to assist in establishing a solid presence in our community. Consumers develop personal shopping habits, and the absence of a grocery store in our Village for the last few years has resulted in many of our residents developing a pattern of shopping in neighboring communities. While I know some of you appreciate that business that we send your way, we’re working hard to win those shoppers back to our own community.

Among the activities on other fronts are some things that are benefits to the quality of life of our residents.

  • For example, just this past weekend we held the grand opening for the Park Forest Bark District, a dog park where residents can take their animals for healthy outdoor activity in a confined space. In Park Forest, we long have been proud of the diversity among our residents; well, judging from the wide range of breeds that were present for the grand opening of the park, a great level of diversity also exists among the pets owned by our citizens.
  • Our summer Main Street Nights program offers residents the opportunity to gather once a week for outdoor entertainment on the Village Green. Each evening’s program includes one performer especially focused on entertaining our young folks, and then a following program that has more appeal for adults.
  • Our Freedom Hall series offers quality entertainment programs throughout the year, including special day-time events for our senior citizens.
  • And, of course, the Illinois Theatre Center and the Tall Grass Arts Association round out our offerings of programs that appeal to the artistic side of each of us.

This year, I have spent lots of time attending events and researching the importance of our city going green. At present, with the help of our Village Environment Commission, I am working on a plan to see Park Forest become a regional leader in that regard.

  • Already, the presence of the Park Forest Wetlands Project is a major statement on environmental conservation and sustainability.
  • We are encouraging residents to make use of rain barrels in order to capture rain water for use in nurturing their plants. We are experimenting with a green-roof project at the Park Forest Aqua Center.
  • And, we’re exploring the possibility of wind-generated power for lighting some of our parking areas.

By this time next year, I am hopeful I’ll be able to come before you and state unequivocally that Park Forest truly is a green community.

Whatever we’re able to accomplish in Park Forest is due to the dedication of our residents – more than 100 of whom are active volunteers on our various boards and commissions – and to the professionalism of our highly qualified and exceptional staff. In closing, I want to express to all of them my most heartfelt appreciation for all that they do to make Park Forest one of the jewels of our south suburbs.

Thank you.

(Photo supplied)