How many times have we heard the phrase “It Takes a Village”? In the case of River Forest, it’s true.
River Forest is a well-run village and our success is due to the great people who serve and support here. We’re small at roughly 2.5 square miles and a population of about 11,000 — or 1/5 the number in Oak Park. We don’t have the large pool of residents interested in serving in governmental roles as other communities may have.
We’re fortunate to have President Cathy Adduci, a smart, astute and caring leader who serves without pay, and our dedicated board of six trustees, who also serve without pay. In advisory roles, we have several boards and commissions, with residents who volunteer their time — that means without pay. The members do a great job, and their positive contributions shouldn’t be overlooked. With our small population, we’re very lucky to have the level of interest and talent in those who wish to serve.
I became a member of our Historic Preservation Commission after attending several regular meetings and hearings. The commissioners have served anywhere from many years to just a few. All are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and dependable. Over the years I’ve attended many other governmental meetings and hearings to understand how our village functions and at times to make my voice heard. Those members approach their responsibilities the same way.
It helps to first go to the website tab, “Boards and Commissions,” to see what River Forest has. The main page features an address by President Adduci, twice providing the link to a Volunteer Application to serve on a board or commission. Click a board or commission on the Menu to the right for description, members and meetings and, again, a link to the volunteer application. Interested parties submit an application to the President’s Office, checking off commissions of interest. Application review is done by the president. By ordinance, the president is given the power to make the Board/Commission appointments. At the board meeting, the trustees approve or reject the president’s appointments.
I didn’t have to search far to discover that our process to approve volunteer board or commission members is general standard practice in Maywood, Forest Park, Elmwood Park, and Elmhurst to name a few. It works in our communities. Switching to Oak Park’s model would merely add more process steps, costing us more time and money without reward. Let’s not try to fix what’s not broken.
I believe the Village Board of Trustees will continue to focus on policies and practices, and our volunteer boards and commissions will continue to advise our trustees effectively.
With the strong leadership of President Cathy Adduci making sure everything stays on track, River Forest will continue to be a well-run village. It always takes a village.
Janet Saeger is a member of the River Forest Historic Preservation Commission.