Mike Gibbs says he would like to have a hand in wrapping up the unfinished business that was on the table when he served as trustee from 2009 to 2013.
He points to what became of the Northside Stormwater Management Project and economic development as important to the community. He backs the project but feels there is a lack of information going out to citizens.
“They should have released preliminary schedules to the public by now. They know where and approximately when they will begin the work. … The public should have multiple sources showing what is in store for the neighborhood in the coming months. [They are] not specific at this point. It would be helpful … to share what they know. … A greater effort should be taken to communicate the scope of the plan to the residents,” said Gibbs.
He suggested that the village put up some placards on various spots on Greenfield, the major focal point of the project, to show what the project will look like. And there should be town meetings to go along with the sequencing of the project and how residents can traverse neighborhoods.
Also on the table is business development. The Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district for Lake Street may have closed, but a project for Lake and Lathrop is still open-ended. Property at Lake and Park has been purchased but nothing has happened yet. He noted that a mixed-use development — retail or commercial on the ground floor and housing on top — would work there.
“It’s a cool corner when you think about the school right there and a train a block away,” he said.
Gibbs is pleased that redevelopment may soon move ahead on Madison Street and on North Avenue with the proposed TIF districts. He was OK with the proposed townhouse development for the long-vacant Hines property and hoped that at some point the public works garage, which sits behind Hines could be folded into that project.
To help bring that development to River Forest, Gibbs said officials should be selling itself more as a business-friendly community. Residents have told him that they want to bring development to town. And a good way to do that, he said, is, among other ideas, to post advertisements with publications, including Crain’s. River Forest, he said, keeps itself a secret.
“The responsibility for the village is to get information to developers to show what we have to offer,” he said.
Gibbs noted that the village is going in the right direction and it needs to stay on the right path to keep it competitive in the housing market.
“My vision is to maintain the standard of life that River Forest has.”