In recent years, the Village of Park Forest has increased its involvement in dialogue that considers the issues of race and equity. Since 2016, Park Forest has participated in a national initiative for municipal leaders called REAL (Race, Equity and Leadership). The REAL program aids communities in better identifying and addressing issues of inequity that have the potential for sowing community discord. As part of the effort, village leaders recently undertook a lengthy and comprehensive review of the community’s policies, procedures, and practices, in hopes of identifying and eliminating any measure that has any semblance of racial or inequitable implications.
One topic that has undergone extensive review and consideration, due in part to Park Forest’s REAL focus, involves streets in the community named after Confederate generals. Village board members discussed the issue at length in late 2017 and in January of 2018 held a forum for residents to voice their feedback on if, or how, the village might respond to the issue.
Overwhelmingly, residents on the impacted streets voiced objection to any change that might place hardship on residents. In particular, residents raised concerns with the time and costs associated for things like obtaining a new driver’s license, updating their address with banking institutions, and other similar requirements. Instead of changing the street names, residents on the impacted streets expressed interest in having them rededicated with honorary names.
The village is now seeking resident feedback or suggestions for those streets, which include Davis, Early, Jackson and Lee Streets. Honorary street names would ideally link Park Forest’s history, the community’s diversity, or its heritage as a planned community for returning World War II veterans. This however is not a strict requirement. The deadline for resident suggestions is Friday, Jan. 15. Any suggestion(s) ultimately selected for use will result in a $100 gift card and public recognition for the participating resident. Suggestions can be forwarded to Village Manager Tom Mick at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 708-748-1112.