Unsure who to support for River Forest village president? The approaches the candidates took to the District 90 proposal for angled parking south of Roosevelt Middle School encapsulates their approaches to governing.

On Feb. 19, D90 sought an intergovernmental agreement with the village to replace the parallel parking on Oak between Thatcher and Jackson with about thirty 90-degree spaces. The village’s Traffic & Safety Commission had heard this proposal and, while opposed to the angled parking, did not produce a specific recommendation.

A slew of citizens showed up to object. Ed and Gina Voci presented a 2008 study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reporting how such parking leads to “backing crashes.” I presented them with a study from the Oregon Department of Transportation reporting that studies had found crash rates for parallel parking to be 50 to 70 percent lower than for angle parking. It concluded that “parallel parking is preferable to angle parking whenever possible.”

The responses of the two candidates for village president were polar opposites. Trustee Gibbs passionately argued to accept the school board’s decision that angled parking was the way to go and instruct village staff to prepare the requested intergovernmental agreement for a vote at the village board’s March 11 meeting.

In contrast, Trustee Adduci listened to what the residents were saying and urged D90 to meet with the citizens to discuss the proposal and consider alternatives. She suggested that the village use its email blast to notify residents of the meeting. She argued that village staff should not spend time and money drafting an intergovernmental agreement. After all, how can you draft an intergovernmental agreement when you don’t know what you’re agreeing to do?

The board decided to request that D90 meet with residents, to send out the email notice of the meeting, and to instruct staff to draft the intergovernmental agreement as Trustee Gibbs wished.

Meanwhile, D90 staff read the safety studies and collaborated with several residents to produce a proposal that would retain the parallel parking on Oak Street and experiment with permit-only parking for school faculty and staff on one side of nearby streets during school hours. By the time of the meeting the next week, D90, to its credit, announced it had withdrawn its proposal for the angled parking and was embracing the permit-only proposal (available at www.riverforestmatters.com). Following its meeting with 40 or so residents, D90 shelved its entire proposal to get more input from residents.

Thanks to Trustee Adduci’s approach of bringing the residents and D90 together, the proposal for dangerous angle parking is no more. That’s the kind of leadership we need in River Forest: an independent village president who listens to residents and who values and respects all residents of River Forest.

Daniel Lauber, AICP, is a city planning consultant and zoning attorney. He is a 25-year River Forest resident.

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