By Megan Dooley
River Forest will be getting red light cameras, despite vocal opposition from one board member and multiple residents. The cameras are set to be installed at three River Forest corners; two at Harlem and Lake and one at North and Harlem.
The board voted four to one in favor of the cameras, with Trustee Catherine Adduci abstaining, based on her husband's role as a lobbyist for a red light camera vendor. Trustee Susan Conti voted against the cameras.
Bill McDonald, of the 800 block of Bonnie Brae, said three accidents causing injuries in five years doesn't justify such drastic and expensive measures for residents.
"There are better ways to reduce accidents," he said, adding that he used to walk multiple times daily through the intersection at Lake and Harlem and never felt a hint of a safety concern.
Daniel Lauber, of the 7200 block of Oak, also argued against installing the cameras.
"I'm concerned there's information missing," he said, including numbers on how many vehicles approach the intersection in a given day and how many violate red light laws.
"If the purpose of this is safety, not revenue, then why not send this to the Traffic and Safety Commission for full review?" Lauber asked.
But Conti's proposal to pass the discussion on to that commission for further examination was voted down.
"We're way beyond the step of traffic and safety," said Trustee Michael Gibbs, adding that the board has already acted as the traffic and safety commission.
President John Rigas said red light cameras are beyond the realm of that commission. "They don't have any expertise in that area," he said.
Adduci supported Conti's bid to send the topic to the Traffic and Safety Commission, despite recusing herself from the official vote on red light cameras. "I'm voting on the process," she said, explaining that significant issues like red light cameras should go through the necessary channels before any final decisions are made.
Adduci disagreed with Rigas' assertion that the Traffic and Safety Commission has no expertise on red light cameras, which were discussed as a safety measure to help decrease the number of accidents at high-traffic intersections in town. "You keep saying the Traffic and Safety Committee has no expertise on traffic and safety," she told Rigas. "I believe that's the purpose of that committee."
The board finally voted in favor of the red light cameras but decided to table a vote to sign a contract with camera vendor Safe Speed (not the company Adducci's husband lobbies for) until the Sept. 12 board meeting.