River Forest trustees Monday unanimously tabled the appointments of seven people slated with the task of attracting and retaining businesses, as well as fostering development in the village's commercial corridors.
The appointments were pushed back after some trustees questioned their residency, saying that members of the newly-created Economic Development Commission should be residents of River Forest.
Over objections to the recommendations of three non-residents, trustees elected to wait until Oct. 28 to approve new members.
Recommendations came from Village President Catherine Adduci, who now will send the 15 applications back to trustees. After receiving their input, she'll then bring recommendations forward. Adduci has made the formation and work of the commission a top priority of her administration.
But she expressed surprise that trustees, particularly Carmela Corsini and Thomas Dwyer, would bring up the residency issue now, given that trustees unanimously approved an ordinance establishing the commission last month.
During that discussion, trustee Susan Conti, who chaired the ad-hoc committee, noted that members went back and forth about the number of members on the commission, as well as the residency issue, according to board minutes. Conti noted that they opened it up to non-residents in order to tap members who may contribute the most to the commission and River Forest.
Unlike all other village boards and commissions, membership to the Economic Development Commission is not restricted to River Forest residents. The commission's chair, however, must be a resident, according to the ordinance.
At Monday's village board meeting, Corsini said they pushed through the process faster than they'd have liked.
"We have not had enough time to evaluate this. We should give residents the opportunity to serve," she said.
After the meeting, Adduci said she still planned to recommend the four members of the ad-hoc economic committee, which was charged last summer with drafting the guidelines for the commission.
One ad-hoc committee member, Lou Vitullo, a longtime resident, sold his house and moved out of River Forest. Vitullo, who has a background in municipal finance, particularly on the question of Tax Increment Financing, would be vital to the commission's work, Adduci said.
A second non-resident, Cathy Yen, is executive director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce. Adduci said she's considering naming Yen as an ex-officio member. A third non-resident is Michael Murray, an expert in architecture and historic preservation, who Adduci said was trying to buy a home in town.
Other members of the ad-hoc panel included Nena Mass, Stan Tafilaw and Thomas Hasinski, an ad-hoc committee member who was recommended to serve as chairman. The seventh person was Tim Brangle, a senior associate at Chicago Consultants Studio, a development group that provides urban design and strategic development expertise on public/private initiatives.
He had been with Skidmore Owings and Merrill, an architectural and engineering firm based in Chicago.
Adduci said the choice of members was a difficult one. She said she spent a considerable amount of time looking over resumes, talking with people and examining the merits of each of the 15 individuals who applied. Adduci stressed that she wanted to ensure that members brought different skills to the panel.
"All were good, competent people," she said. "I looked at what the makeup of the group would be and wanted a mix of individuals who were skilled in different areas. We have a nice balance."