Ask the Village
Ask the Village is a social media campaign where residents can submit questions that the Village will answer. Questions will be answered on the Village's Facebook page.
Q: What are the duties of the mayor?
A: "The duties of the mayor include working with the rest of the Board of Trustees to engage in strategic planning, set policy, enact laws, approve contracts and approve the annual budget," said Village Manager Tom Mick.
"Additionally, the mayor serves as the local Liquor Commissioner overseeing liquor license applications and making corresponding recommendations to the Village Board.
Mick added, "The mayor also facilitates appointments to the Village’s various volunteer boards and commissions by making recommendations for the rest of the Board to consider for approval. Finally, the mayor represents Park Forest in many local, regional, state, and federal associations."
For more information on the mayor's duties, click the links below.
- Sec. 2-64. - Duties generally.
- Sec. 2-65. - Signature on actions by or against village.
- Sec. 2-66. - Signature on licenses, commissions, warrants.
Q: Are we going to do neighborhood meetings again? I think those are helpful for knowing what's going on in our areas.
A: Jason Miller, the assistant to the Village Manager, “At this time, there are no immediate plans for the meetings to return but quite likely could in the future depending on the climate of COVID. In the meantime, I would encourage residents interested in having less public conversations with the Board to attend a Saturday Morning Rules Meeting.”
Q: If I'm in the Metra east parking lot at the Matteson main station, who should I call in case of an emergency?
A: Park Forest Police Deputy Chief Brian Rzyski says, “The Village of Park Forest owns the lot, which means the Village is responsible for maintenance and snow removal.
Q: Why did the water bill change from bi-monthly payments?
A: Park Forest Village Manager Tom Mick says, "Most, if not all, of a Park Forest resident’s bills (utility bills, mortgage, credit card payment, etc.) occur on a monthly basis. The Village changed to monthly water bills to match people’s patterns and experiences with their other bills."
Q: Why do homeowners have to buy a vehicle sticker, but renters do not?
A: The Finance Department says, "Every vehicle registered in the Village of Park Forest is required to have a vehicle sticker whether or not the person is an owner of property or a renter."
Q: What roads are slated for repair this year?
For more information about construction season, visit the Village of Park Forest Department of Public Works on Facebook.
Q: Is the rate for the aggregate energy plan cheaper if we all opt-in?
A: The Sustainability Office says, "The rate will stay fixed for two years at 7.99 cents per kWh no matter how many people have opted in or out of the program. As of right now, the rate of 7.99 cents per kWh is cheaper with the aggregation plan than the default ComEd rate of 9.6 cents per kWh."
Click here to view more information on the Village's new aggregation plan click here.
Q: What services are available for seniors?
A: The Parks and Recreations & Community Health staff says, "There are various programs available for seniors here in Park Forest. The Shirley Green Senior Center, located at 197 Liberty Dr., has a monthly calendar of events. The Village offers the opportunity to be involved with the Senior Advisory Commission, which currently has three positions open."
Additionally, in the summer months, June and July, the Village has farmer marker coupons distributed to seniors based on income. There are day trips planned to attend casinos, plays, and multi-day long-distance trips in the coming months (current trips are completely booked)
For more information on services and resources available for seniors, contact Margaret Lewis at 708-283-5663 or via email at email@example.com
To contact the Shirley Green Senior Center, call 708-748-5454.
Q: Can you explain how the money from the vehicle stickers are applied in the Village?
A: The Finance staff says, "The revenue generated from the vehicle stickers equates to roughly $425,000 annually. This money is used to improve streets and make repairs throughout the Village."
Q: I've received letters about the Aggregation and Community Solar for All Programs, and I am trying to figure out what each program does. Also, I don't want to be charged anything extra. What are these programs?
A: The Sustainability staff says, "The Aggregation and Community Solar programs are initiatives for the Village to meet its goal of using green energy. However, the Aggregation Program is eligible for all residents, and they are automatically opted-in, with no additional cost to their energy bill. At the same time, the Community Solar for All program is income-based, and residents must apply - again, there are no additional costs to your energy bill."
Q: When will Cedarwood Co-Op park be upgraded?
A: The Parks staff says, "There are some exciting things happening in the Village’s parks system in 2023! This summer, we will finally open the Somonauk Nature Adventure Park! This renewed park will feature a two-acre pond with catch-and-release fishing, kayaking, observation decks, a friendship circle, and two large swings. We thank you for your patience as we dealt with many delays throughout the process of creating this regional first park. The park will also feature a new, all-abilities playground with turf safety surfacing (another first for our community) and a brand-new basketball court.
In addition to Somonauk, the Village is continuously evaluating our parks for updates and upgrades. This summer, we are working to resurface the walkways within our parks, with Winnebago Park featuring a new trail that connects to the Park Forest Bark District (as outlined in the Village’s Bike and Pedestrian Plan).
Another part of our evaluation process is looking into our playgrounds and their use. Our goal is to have inclusive, all-abilities playground equipment at every park in our system over time. This summer, plans are in place to remove certain dated smaller pieces of playground equipment and replace them with newer, more inclusive equipment. Additionally, as a part of our Lifecycle Plan, we sometimes find the need to remove playground equipment from parks that are under-used or are no longer safe for use.
With Spring just around the corner, we encourage you to get out and active in our parks and look forward to seeing you around town!
If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 708-283-5650."
Q: Earlier this week (3/20/23), the Village did its water tower connection project, and I wasn't on Facebook much. Is there a way to get emergency alerts sent to my phone or email? Does the Village provide a service like this?
A: The Communication staff says, "The Village uses CodeRed, an emergency notification system that takes less than five minutes to sign up. The system allows residents to register to receive emergency notifications via texts, phone calls, and emails. When enrolling in CodeRed, the Village encourages residents to check all boxes to receive all means of communication. Click here to enroll in CodeRed today. Residents can check the Village’s website for the latest news in Park Forest."
Q: What is happening with the dilapidated houses in our community?
A: The Building staff says, "The Village has been using the Abandonment Process to address abandoned structures in the Village. The Abandonment Process requires the attorneys representing a government agency to file a court case that petitions the court to declare a structure as abandoned. If the petition is granted then the deed for the abandoned structure is transferred to the petitioning agency. An important part of the court case is the requirement for the attorneys to serve notice to the owners of record and interested parties. Part of serving notice requires publication in a local newspaper that an abandonment cases has been filed and posting of a notice about the court case to the front of the abandoned property. The majority of the abandonment cases in the Village are being addressed through a partnership with the Village and the South Suburban Land Bank and Development Authority (“SSLBDA”). A benefit of partnering with the SSLBDA is that they cover all legal cost. At the end of these Abandonment Process the deed is transferred to the SSLBDA. The SSLBDA then list the structure for sale. In a small percentage of these cases the structures are deemed to require demolition. In such cases the SSLBDA covers the cost of demolition.
In the last 12 months the Village has filed 75 abandonment cases. One of the reality is that these cases can take time to proceed through the court system. An average unchallenged Abandonment Case takes approximately six months. If the cases are challenged by an owner/interested party (lender or tax buyer) or the attorneys have difficulty in making the required service then the cases can take longer. Our expectation is that the majority of these cases will be resolved in the next several months."
Q: Are season passes available for the Aqua Center yet? I'm ready for summer!
A: Recreation & Parks staff says, "Yes, season passes with early bird special pricing are on sale now through June 10. Prices increase on June 11. Also, this summer, the Aqua Center is expected to roll out additional new offerings for teens and veterans."
Q: Are there plans to secure federal infrastructure funding to repave our roads?
A: The Administration staff says, "The Village is currently leveraging $2.4 million in federal grant funding to resurface Shabbona Drive. Park Forest was recently awarded a $2.93 million grant through Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) for the Forest Boulevard road construction project, which would allow the Village to construct bike paths along the roadway.
In addition to the road work already being done this coming summer, the Village will resurface approximately four miles of non-arterial roads.
The Village is continually seeking grants, whether federal, state, or local, to improve the Village's roadways and has several projects ready to begin in case any last-minute funds become available."
Q: I was driving down Shabbona Drive yesterday and noticed it seems like the Village is about to do some road work in that area? What are they doing exactly?
A: Public Works staff says, "Roadwork would begin on Shabbona Drive between Sauk Trail and Indianwood this summer, with crews preparing the area doing tree protection in the right of way, followed by sewer work. The project will include total road reconstruction, drainage improvements, complete curb and driveway apron replacements, and sidewalk repairs as needed."
Q: When do the recently elected Village mayor and trustees officially begin their terms? When are the Village board meetings, and can residents attend?
A: A: Administration staff says, "The new mayor and trustees will be sworn into office at the May 1 board meeting and will officially begin their terms. Residents are encouraged to attend board meetings. Residents should keep in mind that during Monday's regular and rules meeting, there is no dialogue with the board. The Saturday meetings allow open dialogue between the board and residents."
Q: Are the Village President/Mayor, Village Trustee, and Library Trustee positions paid positions?
A: Administration staff says, "The Mayor/Village President and Village Trustees are paid part-time positions. Based on a survey, elected officials' salaries were below average at the local government level and had stayed the same since 2014. Mayor and Trustee salaries will increase for newly elected members beginning April 2023, while sitting board members will see no rise in compensation until the 2025 election. In comparison, Library Trustees do not receive compensation for their role."
To read more about the survey and board compensation, click here.
Q: Where can residents see which streets in Park Forest are scheduled for maintenance or repair?
A: Administration staff says, "Residents can find up-to-date construction information from around Park Forest on the Department of Public Works Facebook page. Make sure to follow them to see their post, and you won't miss a thing construction related."
You can follow the Department of Public Works by clicking here.
Q: Can commission meetings be held virtually?
A: Administration staff says, "Commission meetings can be virtual, but the individual commission and its members make that decision. The same applies to board meetings. During the Covid pandemic, all commission and board meetings were held virtually."
Q: How do I bring a concern to the attention of the Village regarding the pavement on my street, specifically at the base of our driveway and at the gutter?
A: Administration Staff says, "The best way for residents to file complaints is to come to Village Hall and fill out a complaint form at the Administration office. The Administration staff will then deliver the information to the correct department, which will conduct follow-ups and determine the best action to address the resident's concern."