By Devin Rose
At the end of his second full year on the job, River Forest Village Administrator Eric Palm said many of the to-do items he's been able to check off his list are not so visible to the public.
Since Palm started his job in Nov. 2010, a number of the challenges he took on with the help of the board and village staff occurred behind the scenes. Much of this was done to improve the village's internal efficiency — its building blocks, Palm said — before the administration could expand its efforts.
First, Palm helped improve the village's bond rating. He applied for their first distinguished budget award, which the village received. The public works and police departments were restructured and he revised the village's financial policies. To help improve communication, he implemented a monthly village newsletter and oversaw the redesign of the website.
In a little more than two years, Palm has also gotten to know the community better. Because of the mix of newer residents with longtime residents who grew up in River Forest, he said, there's a nice combination of fresh ideas and historical perspective.
As the village moves into the new year, Palm said he expects some of bigger issues from the past to come back into the spotlight. He's been getting more calls from people interested in the former Hines Lumber site and is hoping to see more serious interest into 2013. But Palm and the board believe that waiting for the right buyer is important.
Palm said the board will also discuss which, if any, option to pursue for a new sewer system upgrade that they hope will alleviate flooding in the northern part of the village. And a mediation date has been set for the end of next month on the contamination lawsuit at the former River Forest Cleaners site.
Palm said the village will watch that closely because the end of the lawsuit could spur economic development at the site.