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By Jean Lotus
Streetscaping on Madison Street in Forest Park and River Forest will get a boost west of Desplaines Avenue thanks to a $1.34 million grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation's Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) and IDOT, the two villages announced yesterday.
The funds will be used to spiff up Madison between Desplaines and the railroad tracks, making the streetscape feel continuous traveling west and, hopefully, attracting more businesses on both the Forest Park and River Forest side, said Forest Park Village Manager Tim Gillian, who applied for the ITEP grant, with the help of Forest Park's part-time lobbyist Matt O'Shea, who served as Forest Park's second village administrator from 2000-2004.
"If anyone questions the value of our lobbyist, Matt O'Shea did a lot of the work," Gillian said.
The ITEP is a federal grant for streetscaping that incorporates elements encouraging bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
IDOT received 328 applications requesting ITEP federal funding, which totaled nearly $327 million, the Village of Forest Park said in a press release. Gillian said only 53 municipalities got the funds.
"Forest Park was the lead agency on this," said River Forest Village Administrator Eric Palm. "We appreciate all the hard work. For half a million in local investment, we leveraged $1.3 million."
Palm added, "This type of collaboration shows local governments responding well to challenges and cooperating to do things differently."