Managing Park Forest – June 29, 2009

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Mayor Ostenburg and members of the Village Board were on hand for the ribbon cutting of the Park Forest Bark District Saturday. (Photo: JoJo Martin)

Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– Our weekly feature, In and Around Park Forest, has grown considerably. This week, we’re offering readers a separate article detailing activities of Park Forest’s elected officials, management and staff.

Village Hall Fourth of July Closure

In observance of Independence Day, Village Hall will be closed for business on Friday, July 2, 2009. Village Hall will re-open on Monday, July 6.

Vacant Building Registry Ordinance

The Village Board of Trustees adopted a Vacant Property Registry Ordinance as part of its business at the Board Meeting this past Monday. With the rise in the number of foreclosed properties in the current economic climate, vacant homes and buildings can cause an adverse impact on the quality of life in Park Forest. This is especially true if these foreclosed properties remain empty for months or years at a time. The end result, at times, is an unattractive public nuisance.

The Village’s Troubled Building and Property Task Force proposed the ordinance as another avenue for Village Staff in addressing problem properties in the community. This Task Force was also the impetus behind the Village’s implementation of the Crime Free Housing Ordinance in March 2008. The Vacant Building Registry Ordinance compels the mortgage lender accountability for vacant properties by requiring companies to register and properly maintain vacant properties as defined by the Village Code of Ordinances. In short, vacant properties must be maintained in accordance with the relevant sanitary codes, building codes and local regulations concerning external and/or visible maintenance. The Ordinance may also require that the owner of a vacant property develop a timely plan of maintenance and/or rehabilitation of such parcels. The ordinance includes an annual $200 registration fee to help cover the estimated costs for the Village to monitor, inspect, and re-inspect the property.

Questions regarding this initiative can be directed to the Director of Community Development at 708-283-5611.

Joint Review Board Meeting

The Village facilitated the annual Joint Review Board Meeting this past week to update taxing bodies on activities related to the two Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts in Park Forest. All taxing bodies encompassed in the Village’s two TIF Districts, one in DownTown Park Forest and the other at Norwood Square Shopping Center, were invited to attend the session. Representatives from Prairie State College and the Cook County Department of Planning and Development were in attendance for the presentation.

SouthCom Executive Board Meeting

Village Manager Tom Mick, Deputy Village Manager/Finance Director Mary Dankowski, Police Chief Tom Fleming and Fire Chief Bob Wilcox attended an Executive Board Meeting for SouthCom this past week. The purpose of the session was to discuss a personnel matter related to technology needs for this joint emergency services dispatching agency. Member communities of SouthCom include Park Forest, Matteson, Olympia Fields and Richton Park.

Park Forest Community Development

Building

This week, 192 inspections were performed. These included new construction, re-occupancy, inspector-initiated and referral/complaint. In Civil Court action on property maintenance code enforcement matters, work continues with the multiple Thorncreek cases.

Community Development

On Thursday, June 25, the Cable Commission will hold a Special meeting to continue their discussion on the next phase of Local Origination Programming planning. This phase is to consider acquisition of equipment, training, location, staff use, etc. for the public’s use to create programs.

Park Forest Police Department

Police and Fire Academy

The members of the Citizen’s Police and Fire Academy met last week at SouthCom where they were given a tour of the facilities by Denise Pavlik.

PAAC Program

During the first week of the PAAC program, over 150 students enrolled and attended the summer activities offered by the Police Department.

Community Service Program

The participants of the municipal court’s Community Service Program assisted the Park Forest Youth Commission in setting up for the Youth Day activities which were held at Forest Trail Middle School.

Park Forest Fire Department

Responses

The hot weather has brought about a significant increase in calls with the department responding to 86 calls for assistance this past week including one triple call and 17 double calls. Mutual aid assistance was provided to the Frankfort and Chicago Heights fire departments and received from Richton Park Fire Department. Automatic aid assistance was provided once and received twice from the Matteson Fire Department.

Training

Career members were scheduled to break-in the department’s newest training prop, the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus confidence course, as this week’s training. This confidence course was constructed by members of the department in one of the shipping containers located at the fire training site. Due to the extreme heat, humidity and excessive heat warnings, this training was postponed until a more appropriate time. In place of this physical training, the shifts have taken this opportunity to review additional safety guides and programs to better prepare themselves to complete their jobs in a safe and efficient manner.

On Friday, June 19, members of the career and Paid-on-Call (POC) divisions, along with crews from Richton Park, South Chicago Heights and University Park, were scheduled to perform combined training. This exercise helps the departments coordinate operations in an emergency and meets requirements of the Insurance Services Office for combined training and night drills. Unfortunately, due to sever thunderstorms in our area, this monthly training was postponed. The presence of lightning in our immediate area during the drill period made the planned exercise too hazardous to perform. Instead, members of both divisions reviewed SCBA uses and various tools/equipment available on their apparatus.

Weather problems and extremes do not often require the rescheduling of training, because personnel would be required to fight fire under these conditions. But where the health and safety of personnel are concerned in a training situation, the department will always err on the side of protecting its personnel.

Park Forest Public Works

Lawn Restoration

Lawn restoration for the Indianwood Boulevard street lighting project is complete. The subcontractor continues to water the newly sodded areas.

Street Lighting Grant

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) auditor will review the street lighting grant project.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) held a meeting on June 23 at Village Hall to provide information on the draft Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) concerning the Thorn Creek watershed.

Crew Chief Position

Interviews were held this week for the vacant crew chief position.

Vegetation Control

TruGreen Chemlawn performed curbside vegetation control this week.

Field Operations

A water main break was repaired this week at 125 Nauvoo Street. Roundways were repaired/replaced at 17 Bender, 232-234 Allegheny Street and at 273 and 319 Dogwood Street. Street lights were relamped and sanitary sewers were cleaned.

Electrical Safety Class

Crew members Dave Budimir and Larry Stilts recently attended an electrical safety class conducted by the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy (NIPSTA) at the Orland Park Public Works garage.

Water Plant

The 2009 Water Quality Reports were sent to the post office this week. The Village is mandated by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to mail these out annually to residents on or before June 30.

The high calcium lime bid was awarded to Carmeuse Lime, of Pittsburg, PA, in the amount of $168,420.00

The Well #6 and #7 bid was awarded to Layne-Western of Aurora, IL, in the amount of $37,085.00

Recreation and Parks

Aqua Center

The first unannounced Operational Safety Audit took place recently with the staff receiving an “Exceeds” score on all elements. The Village’s Aquatic Safety Consultant, Ellis and Associates visits the facility unannounced three times per season and video tapes several lifeguards in the chair looking for proper scanning techniques, attention to their duties and other signs of professionalism. Following the video portion, the auditor will announce his/her presence and randomly choose guards on duty and asks them to demonstrate various in-water rescue techniques and do on-land CPR. The Park Forest facility has had an outstanding record on these audits since adopting the Ellis program in 1991.

Check out the Aqua Center page on Facebook. Go to www.facebook.com and become a fan online. The Aqua Center has over 300 fans already.

Freedom Hall Remodeling

This past Monday, the dumpster rolled up to Freedom Hall and the theater seat removal got underway. By the Tuesday, the dumpster was full and the theater was bare. Quite a sight! Last week, Dave Richardson of the parks staff unhooked the electrical connections to the aisle lights. Contractors will now come in to install new carpeting and paint the floor in the theater before new seats are installed in late August.

Source: Village of Park Forest Weekly Manager’s Report