Editor’s note: The following letter was sent before the election in response to presidential candidate Steve Hoke’s March 24 One View. We’re printing it because it’s still relevant after the election.
Having lived in River Forest for nearly 70 years and having been involved in public service for more than 50 years, I am proud to be called an “insider” in River Forest. This is what being an insider means to me:
My first goal when I was elected to office 20 years ago was to resuscitate our commercial areas. I wanted to eliminate the crime-ridden, vacant and deteriorating Lake-Harlem-Bonnie Brae tract (6 acres) and replace it with new, modern, commercial business. Many in River Forest, at the time, thought this to be impossible. This was a goal to improve the quality of life in our community and provide needed non-homeowner tax base. With the hard work of many residents – Nancy Dillon, Julia Faust, John Rigas, Bob Jones, Dale Rider, Pat O’Brien, Bob and Barbara Graham, Jerry Johnson, Tom McCauly, Dave Schavone, David and Frank Martin, Gary Sullivan, Steve Robinson, Richard Prinz, Kevin Collins, Ron and Carlotta Lucchesi, PJ and Kathleen Hosty, Joe Organ, Ken Hanson, Al Swanson and many, many others – who contributed their time and talents, the River Forest Town Center came into being. The center has put more than $1 million per year into our school system and will continue to add to the tax base for many years to come.
Another public service goal I had when I began my tenure in office was to improve public safety through inter-community efforts. A professional dispatch service and dependable paramedics were the result. It has effectively given River Forest residents critical and needed life-saving services at a reduced cost because it is shared among three villages from one central location.
Another goal, to double park space in the village, has brought new after-school sports to our children. The development success of Priory Park was achieved through a combined effort of village board members, park board members and other citizens at almost no cost to homeowners, $25 per home for five years. A significant part of the monies needed came from services done more economically at village hall.
These are just a few of the goals I have helped the village to achieve over the past 16 years. There have also been improvements in the public works department and to our streets, sewers, trees and parkways. All of which are the result of the cooperation of many villagers.
My vision as an “insider” was for a community open to all, a community that provided the best schools and best services for all of its citizens in the most economical way possible. The village has changed in the last 16 years; there are many new, young homeowners who came here because they were attracted by the goals we have achieved. I hope officials will be elected that will build on this vision of River Forest and carry it forward successfully.
Frank Paris is the outgoing, four-term village president of River Forest.