Park Forest, Illinois

PARK FOREST, ILLINOIS the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Village encouraged the development of larger housing in an attempt to round out its housing stock.Today,of the nearly9,600 housing units,about 5,700 are single-familyhomes; another 3,880 aremulti-fam- ilyunits,of which almost 2,000 are cooperatives.In addition, scores of the original starter homes have been enlarged,over the years,to fit the needs of today’s homeowners. “When theVillagewas planned, years ago, the planners intentionallymade it so that every house was within walk- ing distance of commerce, a school, and a church, as well as open space and parks,” says -Assistant Director of Economic Development, Sandra Zoellner. In fact, Park Forest has 2,000 acres of parks, recreation facilities, and open land. In addition to numerous playgrounds, ball fields, and picnic facilities, the Village contains an abundance of tennis courts and is home to one of the most popular outdoor swimming complexes in the state.“And everything is connected with sidewalks and boulevards and cut-throughs,”Zoellner adds. “And, there are about 12,000 trees that are at least 60 years old.We’re called Park Forest for a reason.” In addition to the careful preservation of its tree canopy, Park Forest has a long history of other sustainable practices and programs, and in recent years, the Village has made a concerted effort to become the most sustain- able community in the state.“We do have a sustainability plan, and we’re currently work- ing on a climate action plan,”explains Hildy Kingma,Director of Economic Development & Planning.“We try to do our best to help our businesses, as well as our residents, incorporate energy-saving and wa- ter-saving devices into their businesses and homes, as much as possible.We certainly walk the talk and are doing that in Village facilities–street lights, stormwater manage- ment, etc.That is very important to us.” Amajor sustainable project in Park Forest’s past was the return of some of the land in its 50-acre, Central Park to its original wetland status.“When it was first built, and over the course of its first four decades of life, it was a combination of play- ground and ball fields and soccer fields,”King- ma recounts.“For those 40 years, a large part of that park was hard to maintain because it would get very wet and the water would sit HILDY KINGMA DIRECTOR OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & PLANNING