River Forest has ended its more than two-year-old partnership with the Parks Foundation, turning its sustainability committee into a full-fledged part of village governance.

Trustees on Feb. 13 unanimously created the new commission, finishing a process that began in October and putting the new panel on par with historic preservation, economic development, planning and zoning.

Since it became River Forest’s go-to environmental team in 2014, the committee successfully spearheaded more than 20 initiatives and won praise from many in the community for its dedication, expertise and ingenuity. 

The group is now ready to take on more, and the possibilities are only limited by the innovation and creativity, Village President Catherine Adduci said.

“We want them to advise us on a wide array of policies that will foster environmental health and green practices in everything we do. These knowledgeable and enthusiastic citizens have worked hard to make reduce, reuse and recycle watchwords in our village. 

That’s why making this growing aspect of community life – sustainability – a part of our governance makes so much sense,” Adduci said in a brief interview after the Feb. 13 meeting. 

The task now will be to find seven people who could begin their work early this spring. Residents interested in the commission can submit applications on the village’s website. Appointments are expected to go before the board this spring, Adduci said.

Once it gets started sometime this spring, the commission will get staff assistance and resources.

The larger and more complicated task will now be setting an agenda and priorities. The commission’s scope is broad:  

Promote the protection of the public’s health, safety and welfare as it relates to environmental sustainability;

Promote the conservation of natural resources and protection of the environment;

Acquire and disseminate technical information relative to the environment and natural resources.

Kathleen Brennan, who led the committee, was grateful the board recognized the value of the sustainability committee and the programs it started.

“A unanimous vote to create the permanent commission sends the clear message that this board is ready to invest, continue and expand those programs for residents,” Brennan said.

Recommendations from the commission initiatives would have to be approved by trustees.

Sustainability was the second new commission created in four years. The first was economic development, which began as an ad-hoc panel in June 2013 and became a formal commission in November 2013.

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