A Sustainability Plan for Park Forest
Update: On May 14, 2012, the Village Board affirmed its commitment to sustainability by voting unanimously to adopt the Park Forest Sustainability Plan.
As an early model of a planned community, the Village was designed to provide a high quality of life for its residents and has been awarded for its livability throughout the years. Park Forest boasts a wide variety of affordable housing types, abundant open spaces, and a redeveloped, walkable downtown district. The Village also has a progressive history of fostering racial, cultural, and economic diversity and cohesion. Its location -- approximately 35 miles south of downtown Chicago and straddling the border between Cook and Will Counties -- benefits from access to both Metra train service and Cook County Forest Preserves. Additionally, Park Forest has worked to pilot several "green" initiatives, including municipal building renovations, rain garden, solar hot water heater, and green roof demonstration projects, and the Central Park Wetlands Restoration project. Now, the Village is building on past efforts to create a sustainability plan with help from CMAP's Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program.
Park Forest is developing a sustainability plan for residents of the Village to enjoy a high quality of life for decades to come. From energy use to development patterns to "green" jobs, the plan will cover topics related to the "3 E's" – environment, economy, and equity. Planning will start with an inclusive, goal-setting process that engages residents, business owners, and other community stakeholders, and then will apply quantitative measures to key topic areas to track progress toward those community goals. With a focus on implementation strategies, the Park Forest Sustainability Plan will help the Village maintain its quality of life for future generations.
The public has had multiple opportunities to participate in this sustainability planning process. In July 2011, two kick-off meetings were held to allow youth as well as the general public to discuss issues that the plan should address. In November 2011, residents and other stakeholders attended a visioning workshop at Dining on the Green in DownTown Park Forest to weigh in on different strategies to achieve the Village's sustainability goals. Residents who were unable to attend this November meeting still had a chance to provide their input on the plan's strategies through an interactive website for the project which was active December 2011 through February 2012.
Additionally, several focus group meetings were held on January 18 and 19, 2012, to obtain feedback from interested stakeholders about the preliminary strategies for the Transportation, Education, Economic Development, and Energy sections of the draft sustainability plan. In March 2012, the public had an opportunity to review and comment on the draft sustainability plan at an open house event at Dining on the Green. The final, adopted version of the sustainability plan is now available online for public review.
Park Forest, IL Achieves 3-Star Rating, Star Communities, June 3, 2015.
Global Girl Media, November 2012.
Green Infrastructure brings new partners and possibilities to parks, Illinois Parks and Recreation, March 2012.
Community gardens grow in Park Forest, Southtown Star, February 1, 2012.
Park Forest Explores Sustainability with CMAP, and You Can Contribute, ENews Park Forest, December 1, 2011.
What is Sustainability? CMAP in Park Forest, Nov. 30, 2011, ENews Park Forest-Video, December 1, 2011.
120 Park Forest Youth Help Plan the Future of Their Village, ENews Park Forest, July 15, 2011.
Public Meetings On The Development Of The Village Of Park Forest's Sustainability Plan, ENews Park Forest, July 10, 2011.
Another Plan for Southland's Planned Community, Southtown Star, July 10, 2011. [PDF]
Hildy Kingma, Village of Park Forest Director of Economic Development and Planning (firstname.lastname@example.org or 708-283-5622)
Kristin Ihnchak, Senior Planner at CMAP (email@example.com or 312-676-7462)
You can follow CMAP's Twitter feed at @GOTO2040 for the latest updates.
Update: In June 2015, Park Forest was awarded a 3-star rating by the STAR (Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating Communities) Community Rating System. This makes the Park Forest only the second community in Illinois to achieve this certification (the first being Evanston). The Park Forest Sustainability Plan helped the Village to qualify for this award.
As part of the Park Forest Growing Green Sustainability Plan – completed in May 2012 – CMAP committed to remain involved for a period of two years after adoption to assist with implementation of plan recommendations. Many plan activities have been completed or are underway. Download the implementation status update to learn more.