The blue ribbon campaign in River Forest, which opposes dividing the double lot at 620 Franklin into two different properties, hit another hump this week. The village sent out a notice directing homeowners to remove the ribbons from the parkway trees, citing a section of the village code that prohibits hanging “any handbill, sign, poster, advertisement or notice of any kind” from the parkway trees.
“I didn’t want to start a war,” said Village Manager Chuck Biondo. “All I wanted was for people to comply and take them down.” He expects the ribbons to be removed by Aug. 10, the same day as the next scheduled meeting concerning Franklin Avenue.
The longtime owner of 616 and 620 Franklin Ave. died last year, and the estate’s heirs agreed to sell to property to a local developer who plans to tear down the old stucco house and build new $1.6 million houses on the double lot. The blue ribbon campaign supporters protest such action, arguing that the development would change the spacious character of the street and take away a historically significant home. They say the lot is a sufficient size-20,000 square feet-that the village should be involved in the planning.
In other situations, such as last year’s campaign for the District 90 school referendum which included ribbons on trees, the village “attempted to obtain cooperation,” when people wanted to use the parkway trees, Biondo said. The supporters of the school referendum cooperated with the village, Biondo said, while the Franklin Avenue neighbors involved in the blue ribbon campaign neither approached the village first nor cooperated when the village asked them to notify their supporters, Biondo said.
“The approach they used was fine, but they don’t have the right to use other people’s property,” Biondo said. “The village’s property is the parkways.”
Mark Kleinkopf, who lives at 624 Franklin Ave. and is one of the neighbors involved in the blue ribbon campaign, was frustrated by the notice in his mailbox. “Which category does a ribbon fall in? Is it a handbill, sign, poster, advertisement or notice?” Steve Gutierrez, the assistant village manager, did mention the code previously, Kleinkopf admitted. But the point is why the ribbons are there.
The blue ribbon campaign got the idea from last year’s green ribbon campaign for the school referendum. “It was, I think, a polite and classy way to do it,” Kleinkopf said.
“The reason the blue ribbons went up was because the process wasn’t being followed,” he added. “There are a lot of people on our block who have invested their lives in this issue.”