River Forest has laid out its agenda for the next fiscal year, with the village updating its comprehensive and communication plans while continuing work on economic development and collaboration.
These goals, set out in Village President Catherine Adduci’s state of the village address, were agreed to by trustees last month; formal adoption of these and other objectives for the 2016-2017 fiscal year could come later this month or in early 2016.
Goal setting is a standard process for the village, usually about the time the administration starts putting together a budget so that spending document can reflect trustees’ thinking. This year, though, Adduci elected to give her address, her second, to jump-start that conversation around River Forest’s long-range objectives.
“For everything we do, we need to ask ourselves: Will it make the village safe, will it keep our village financially stable, will it increase property values, and will it stabilize our tax burden? These overarching community benefits will make River Forest a livable community for years to come,” she said.
All of the following goals are lofty, but doable, Adduci added.
A comprehensive plan is the community’s roadmap for land use, and having one is mandated by the state. River Forest’s has not been updated since the last one’s adoption in 2003. A new guide could present a picture of what the community looks like now and in the future and include such elements as bike paths, walking trails and better use of green space, restaurants, parking and affordable housing. It also could address where senior housing could be located, Adduci said. Community input will be a vital part of the process, which will begin next year and could take a year to complete. Estimated cost could be six figures, Village Administrator Eric Palm said.
Updating the village’s communication/technology plan was established as a board goal last year, but staff time and money made it challenging to complete. This year, however, it needs to be a priority because a fair amount of work needs to be done on it, village officials said. In upgrading its use of communication and technology, the village would build an even more secure and user-friendly website, using social media where appropriate and a creating web-based community calendar, where all taxing districts and community organizations can post events. Online billing would be increased as well. Expanded use of technology would bring people closer to government and make it more transparent, Adduci said. Estimated cost could be six figures, Palm said.
The community’s real success, according to Adduci, has been moving forward on economic development, including selecting a preferred developer for Lake and Park, taking steps to get the long-vacant Hines Lumber property back on the tax rolls, and starting to refit the vacant Dominick’s Finer Foods site as a Fresh Thyme Farmers Market. The village needs to conduct public meetings and finalize the Madison Street and North Avenue TIF districts. The EDC and the administration should send the board a final market analysis and housing study so officials know what kind of development may be appropriate in those areas.
A long-term goal of the board, collaboration among taxing districts, began in May. It continued into October when a representative from each unit of government met for the first time. While the subcommittee has not settled on the issues to address, Adduci said ultimately the group could focus on better use of community assets and land.
“Setting goals and achieving them are aspects of the board’s and the administration’s performance metrics,” said Adduci. “That way, residents can measure our success.”