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The Village of Park Forest is pleased to announce its new 3-STAR Community Rating for leadership in sustainable practices by STAR Community Rating System (STAR).
The STAR Community Rating System is a robust sustainability rating system for cities, towns, and counties, which helps communities evaluate themselves across seven areas related to sustainability, such as built environment; climate and energy; economy and jobs; education, arts and community; health and safety; and natural systems. STAR provides support as localities benchmark progress, and a third-party review ensures accountability.
Park Forest becomes only the second community in Illinois to achieve certification under the national STAR Community Rating System.
“We are excited and honored to receive this rating from STAR. The Village of Park Forest long has been committed to environmental sustainability. However, we equally are committed to promoting and preserving a sustainable community for our residents as regards health, safety, economic growth, recreation, and the overall well-being of the individual citizen. We are extremely pleased that our efforts to live up to these commitments have been recognized at the national level,” said Park Forest Mayor John A. Ostenburg.
Park Forest was awarded the honor following a lengthy application process that began in 2014 followed by an extensive evaluation from STAR.
According to the STAR Rating System, Park Forest scored highest in the categories of Built Environment and Health & Safety. Notable achievements include:
• Built Environment: Ninety percent of housing units within Park Forest are located within a half mile of a public space or park, and 57 percent of the total land area is covered with vegetated surfaces that act as green infrastructure. • Education, Arts & Community: Eighty-eight percent of residents live within one mile of a community venue with free events and programming. • Health & Safety: In recent years, Park Forest showed increased access to low-cost, healthy food options for low-income families through establishing a Village-wide community garden program free for residents to participate in. Violent crime in Park Forest comes in below national thresholds, making Park Forest a Safe Community-qualified Village. • Innovation & Process: The new SouthWorks MakerLab in Park Forest is an innovative business incubator that enables users to create prototypes of new products that can then be marketed for larger production and sale.
The 3-STAR Community Rating adds to a growing list of accolades Park Forest has received for sustainable leadership since beginning a push in 2012 to become the most sustainable community in Illinois. Park Forest has also been named the winner of the Governor’s Sustainability Award (2014), the winner of the Illinois American Planning Association’s Best Sustainability Plan Award (2013), and the winner of the Congress for New Urbanism Illinois Charter Award for Best Town Plan (2013).
Park Forest’s sustainability efforts in recent years have been aided by the support of local technical assistance from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and by grants from The Chicago Community Trust that have funded the work of a sustainability coordinator who has spearheaded many of Park Forest’s advancements in sustainable practices.
“It’s important for the Village to continue to strengthen existing partnerships -- and create new ones -- to further Park Forest’s momentum toward being a model community for progressive and resilient practices,” said Park Forest Sustainability Coordinator Sarah Coulter.
Park Forest plans to focus over the next few years on areas of opportunity identified by STAR in anticipation of a 2018 recertification bid.
To learn more about the STAR Community Rating System, visit www.STARcommunities.org.To learn more about sustainability in Park Forest, visit www.villageofparkforest.com/sustainability .