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River Forest residents who want to participate in the village’s newly-formed ad hoc committee on deer management have until Tuesday, Feb. 18 to submit applications.

The village board voted unanimously Jan. 27 to create the committee and approved the application that is available on the village website. Paper copies of the application also are available at the River Forest Public Library, 735 Lathrop Ave.; the Community Center, 8020 Madison St.; and Village Hall, 400 Park Ave.

The committee, which was first discussed in November, will be co-chaired by trustees Tom Cargie and Patty Henek and include 11 residents. Village President Cathy Adduci is expected to recommend committee members at the Monday, Feb. 24 village board meeting and the committee is tentatively scheduled to hold its first meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

The committee is expected to submit formal recommendations to the village board in September, although trustees agreed on Jan. 27 that communication between the two groups would not be limited to the final report. Instead, committee members will be encouraged to share recommendations to the village board sooner, should they determine that to be important. Trustees also expressed the hope that the committee would address education opportunities, specifically regarding Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.

The ad hoc committee is expected to have expert advisors available. Carl Vogel, director of communications for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, told the village board that the Forest Preserve District would participate in the committee. Henek also said Tim Preuss, urban deer project manager for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, who appeared at a village meeting in June, has expressed interest in participating in the committee, as time allows.

Henek said one of the committee’s first tasks will be conducting a community survey in March and April. She said Preuss recommended that such a survey be conducted at the end of spring or beginning of summer.

“I think it’s very clear that experts and other communities who have experienced the same thing clearly recognize that this is an emotional issue,” Henek said. “It’s a serious issue and it’s something I personally take very seriously in terms of the safety and health of our residents, absolutely.

“But I want to make sure we get this right. I want to make sure we are evaluating things in the best manner we can.”

Adduci addressed the “long, winding road” the village board has traveled since the issue of deer management was first discussed in November, then at subsequent village board meetings in December and January.

“I am definitely 110 percent behind the deer management task force and always have been,” she said. “This will help us build an educational outreach program so our residents can learn how to coexist with deer in our community.

“I don’t think anybody ever said we were going to eradicate deer, that we don’t love deer. We do love deer. We all know where we live … by the river and by the forest. That’s why we’re here.”

Adduci stressed the need for elected officials to be concerned about the health and safety of residents.

“Certainly one way to address the health and safety of our community is through education and outreach programs,” she said. “I also urge the board to consider other actions along the way to improve the health and safety of our community.”

In addition, Adduci addressed discussion of Lyme disease in the village, especially in connection with comments made by residents John Roeger and Gigi Hoke at village board meetings and in a news story in Wednesday Journal.

“I believe our neighbors and residents John and Gigi when they talk about their issues with Lyme disease and their families,” she said. “I acknowledge that nobody should hype up Lyme disease for the sole sake of hyping it up and I don’t believe any of us at this table has ever hyped up this issue.

“It has been our residents who come to us and have spoken to us. Each and every one of us always listens just like we are listening tonight. I believe them. I believe John when he said there might be 25 families that are undiagnosed.” 

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