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Buying in FP, should I reconsider?

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Shar-Pei Guy View Drop Down
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    Posted: 31/May/2008 at 9:48pm
I'm not sure if this is the best introductory message to the forums, but I have always been an up front person. It's not meant to be insulting to anyone here, but as someone who is in the process of buying a place in FP I am a bit unnerved by some of the posts here.

I've lived in Oak Park for about 15 years now. First in a condo and now in a town home. I recall when I first moved to Oak Park that I thought Forest Park was a very poor cousin to OP and RF.   This was long before the redevelopment of Madison Street. At that time Madison street was an ACE hardware, Trage Brothers and nothing but run down bars and liquor stores.

I've watched in amazement over the last few years as Forest Park has transformed into this nice little jewel with new residential development and with really only one main business district I always thought they had a very distinct advantage over OP as OP has to deal with Lake Street, Oak Park Ave, Chicago Ave, North Ave, Roosevelt, Marion St, the list goes on as far as where OP keeps redirecting their attention (oh yeah, the "Arts District" too).

I am currently going through one of those "life events" one of the side effects is that I am in the process of buying a house in Forest Park. I've been quite excited about the purchase and the move as I think Forest Park offers a lot more "bang for the buck" than OP or RF, especially for a very soon to be single guy. Well, I guess I should say I have been excited until I started browsing these forums. So far all I have seen here is a bunch of people complaining about how awful it is to live in FP. Is this really the case? Or is this just a place where people go to blow off some steam? For all of the negative stuff I have read about your mayor and the way the village deals with business development, I just keep thinking about the way OP deal with things. While I do not agree with everything that goes on in any community, I think FP is dealing with businesses in a far better manner than OP is. There must be a good reason so many known OP businesses have moved or are moving to FP.

When I moved into my current place about 10 years ago the houses around me were all junk, we sadly had one of the premier places on the street. Somewhere over the past decade people have rehabbed and fixed up almost every house around me, now it is to the point where when there is a junk house it really stands out.   This is where I see FP headed. Some of the houses around my new house are crap and some of them have been nicely rehabbed, I think as the next few years go by more and more will get rehabbed, especially as OP keeps getting more and more expensive.

I am also curious about how some of the people on this board seem to complain when houses remain junk piles and then in other posts they complain about Cherryfield (sp?) rehabbing so many homes the same way. The way I see it you have someone who is fixing up these homes, even if you don't see the use in a butler's pantry, at least the homes are being rehabbed.

I am just wondering if FP is a worthwhile place to put down new roots, or if the posts I have been reading here show a major underlying issue in FP which should make me rethink my new purchase before the actual closing takes place. What's the deal is FP the place I have been watching with envy from OP, or is this a place I should avoid and consider someplace like Brookfield or the areas of Elmwood Park I can afford?

Edited by Shar-Pei Guy - 01/June/2008 at 5:10pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KPO'M Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31/May/2008 at 10:33pm
First of all, welcome to FPF.

Remember that any message board such as FPF will be a avenue for "venting" and complaining about the local government. As far as FP goes, the government here isn't the best, though it isn't the worst, either. I think the difference between OP government and FP government is as follows.   OP government means well but lacks self-discipline, likes to spend taxpayer money as if it's endless, and lacks business acumen. FP government is better at bringing in business and the related tax revenue, but has a governing style that's a bit too "Chicago-esque" for some people's likings. FP government lacks a coherent opposition, which OP has. In the end, though, local governments can do only so much. The bigger issue is the high school district, though, as a single person, this might not be as much of an issue to you. Another key issue is zoning. If you are looking into an older house (particularly one with a coach house) and plan to rent or remodel, look into the restrictions, as this seems to be the biggest source of frustration. Not that it's all that different in Oak Park, of course.

Overall, FP still offers more bang for the buck, provided the high school isn't the deal breaker.


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Shar-Pei Guy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shar-Pei Guy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31/May/2008 at 11:19pm
Thanks for the basic overview of your views of FP vs OP style of government. I think it is probably spot on. As someone who's been in OP since the early to mid 90s, I can tell you the government there does mean well but yes they totally lack self discipline. They do believe we tax payers are an unlimited source of income for their pleasures. 6 million dollars to redo 2 blocks of Marion Street. I am still amazed that they can plan to spend 5 million dollars to put in 2 blocks of street, but how the heck do you overshoot your budget by 20%? I mean it's a VERY nice 2 blocks, but good heavens it's a street!

I don't know that FP's way of doing things is any better. I am a quasi fan of Dailey, not in the corruption side obviously, but in the fact he can get things done. I remember visiting Chicago in the 80s (I was living in FL at the time) and being disgusted with the way the city looked, the way Michigan Ave looked, the way most of the museum exhibits were broken, it was a very disappointing trip. The city has changed so dramatically in the past 20 years, and I see very similar results in FP. The only reason I frequent downtown OP and "The Avenue" so much is that I can walk to both of them currently. I prefer Madison Street now (FP side) even if it means once I move I will have to drive there.

No worries on the High School from my perspective. No kids here. I'd much prefer to see a better HS for FP, but what can you do? It's not like FP can just change townships. At least they now have the Math and Science Academy.

Glad to hear you think this is mostly people venting, and not some underlying problem. The street I am moving to reminds me of the street I am currently on as it was 5-10 years ago albeit the houses where I am now are larger.

Edited by Shar-Pei Guy - 01/June/2008 at 6:02pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KPO'M Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31/May/2008 at 11:58pm
The concern I have with Daley is the same concern that a lot of people have about the FP government. Both can "get things done," but there's a real fear of them being in power for too long. It's a problem that plagues most local governments. Daley was good for the first 8 years or so, but in the last 11, he's grabbed more and more power, and is running roughshod over the last vestiges of checks and balances. Meigs Field was one example. Notwithstanding the argument over whether an airport or park is a better use of the island, Daley's midnight raid was inexcusable. The whole children's museum flap is another example. Likewise, 4 years of Calderone was probably OK, and good for continuing the redevelopment that started in the 1990s. 8 was tolerable (particularly since he had two rivals keeping a close eye on him), but another 4 or 8 years with a more pliant village council could be too much.
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Agreed, I guess it would depend on who the replacement would be. I would hope it would be one who would continue the transformation that has been going on. I've been impressed with Madison St. and the work on the homes being done on both sides of the Ike. I couldn't find anything I liked in my price range within walking distance of Madison (I've grown accustomed to walking everywhere due to my OP location), so I bought a place south of the Ike. I'll just have to make the short drive.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote citizen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/June/2008 at 9:06am
welcome, indeed.
who's the darling droopy face? yours? i mean your dog's.
i'm an op transplant also. and your perceptions of both towns are pretty similar to my own.
 
i think you'll love the south end. cozy. you may have to drive to madison, but you'll always have ed's way.
even tho 'crime' and 'punks' get a lot of mileage on these boards, doubt you'll see any diff from op, probably less.
 
kp mostly nailed the differences. he's our resident analyst, and damn good at it.
 
a few thoughts:
the village has been fabulous developing our business (madison) community. quite a difference from the slow torture one receives in op.
 
the gov't problems i see are transparency and favoritism - a very stark departure from op.
pay-to-play, who you know, etc. after seven years, i still find it shocking.
we most definitely need at least one more 'political party.'
 
my hot button is most often residential zoning. you mention you 'are in the process of' buying here, but sounds like it's a done deal and you are just waiting to finalize.
so, hope you are buying a single family home, as any property south of madison that is not is 'tainted' and the village wishes to dispose of them - by any means possible.
 
cheers :)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote piehead Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01/June/2008 at 9:50am

As KPO'M and Citizen have said, Welcome to FPForums.

And, yes, this is a venting place when frustrated with government of FP.  But I don't just vent here.  I do contact our mayor, chief of police, fire chief, building department, and even a commissioner on occasion (with both criticisms and yes, thanks).  That is one of the great things about FP; the people in charge of things are reachable by phone or email. 
 
And, yes, us southsiders (of FP) complain about the punks and what not, but this village is still a great place to call home.  And from what I hear from my friends in OP, they have punks and what not in OP as well. 
 
How to deal with junk homes around you?  Contact Mr. Curry, our commissioner over that stuff, or the building department at the village (366-2323, option 2 for building dept).  Some times it takes a LOT of calls but remember the squeaky wheel will eventually get grease!  I think because of my calls to them, they are FINALLY addressing a home that has been vacant and neglected for over 3 years and oh yes, lucky me, right next to me.  Why does it bother me?  Because I love my home (I looked for 3 years to find it) and I take great pride in it and I think (and hope others would agree) take very good care of it and the yard.   Mr. Curry even sent letters to the homeowners around this wreck of a house recently and in it encourages us to help them do their jobs by letting them know about things that they don't see (zipping by in their code enforcement cars.......I still think a bike or on foot would be a better way to see the village but that's a thought for a different day).
 
So I don't think you have made a wrong choice.  We need more people like you who will take pride in ownership.  Welcome to the neighborhood.
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Citizen,

The droopy face belongs to my male dog. He's 4 and he and his sister will be moving with me.

I do find the south end cozy. I've walked the area several times with at least one of my pups and the female is much calmer walking in this area than in the hustle and noise of the downtown area of OP (where I currently live).

Yes, my moving is pretty much a done deal, I close this month, but if things were as bad as a couple people here were making things out to be I could always find a way out of the purchase. I'm much relieved to find that this is just a venting place. You're right OP has its share of punks as well.

Pie,

It's good to see that there is some responsiveness from council members or even the mayor. I was very surprised to see several of them actually visit these forums.

Thanks for the responses, it is relieving the small amount of anxiety I started feeling about the move. I'm glad to see people are talking about these things because they love their homes. It's been ages since I owned a single family house, and I am very much looking forward to owning one again (even if it is on the world's smallest lots). As long as there is enough yard for my pups to play, I am a happy camper.


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He is just beautiful..we have 2 Shars on my block. Yours is huge compared to our neighbors.
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Shar-Pei Guy ,

Welcome to Forest Park. I second most all the comments from Citizen, piehead and KPO'M. Good assessments and advice. Grew up in OP, owned a house there for 15 years before moving to FP 4 years ago. Bigger lot, brick house, lower taxes, for less than we paid in OP, though we've had to dump six figures into the house.

My only additional point is that I believe the future of FP will turn on whether or not voters here and elected officials finally realize that old, outmoded ways of governance no longer serve their interests well. Elected officials here continue to resist needed changes to government, starting with the antiquated Commissioner form of governance.

No form of government, in and of itself, guarantees proper attention to the public's interest. But the Commissioner form DOES all but guarantee that individual commissioners will be tempted to exercise government by fiat, rather than debate and consensus.

There is currently too little respect for the concept of local government bringing in well qualified professionals to run key departments, under the oversight, but not direct control, of elected officials. Read back issues of the Forest Park Review the past two years and you'll see ample evidence of people unqualified to exercise direct line authority.

The result has been one mismanagement fiasco after another the past decade, with lawsuits and legal settlements and spiraling insurance premiums. And it's not over, not by a long shot.

Still, our move to FP was a good thing. It's just that there's work to do to force some changes. They're coming, and FP will be the better for it.

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Originally posted by Shar-Pei Guy Shar-Pei Guy wrote:

Citizen,


Yes, my moving is pretty much a done deal, I close this month, but if things were as bad as a couple people here were making things out to be I could always find a way out of the purchase. I'm much relieved to find that this is just a venting place. You're right OP has its share of punks as well.



ah, you're just having buyer's remorse. the water's fine - jump in! as long as you don't need the high school (intractable.)
hope you're the one to organize a 2nd political party. Tongue
 
i've often wondered how an 'anonymous' oak park web board would read. hmm.
 
 
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Hi Shar-pei,

I find it interesting that you think one business district is better than two.  I’m told that Roosevelt Road was once a vibrant shopping and restaurant district.  Members of this board have complained occasionally that too little attention is paid to the south end of Forest Park.  I’d be interested in hearing from some of the old-timers on the board what type of shops or restaurants were here.

In terms of making a decision to buy anywhere, do a comparative analysis of things important to you.  I would consider how well the town is maintained such as streets and alleys.  How well funded the town is.  How high are the taxes.  What is the crime rate.  What are the test scores for both the high school and grade schools.  Whether the town is generally on an incline or decline.

If location and transportation are important to you, welcome home.  If sketchy politicians bother you, keep looking. 

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There were 2 florists, there was a pizza parlor, there was a Browns Chicken on Harlem and Roosevelt there was Bishops Chili on Elgin and Roosevelt there was a Bank at Elgin and Roosevelt there was a diner called Deweys there was a Wendys at Thomas and Roosevelt there was a restaurant called Giannottis at Dunlop and Roosevelt and many others I may be missing.
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Originally posted by dogcatcher dogcatcher wrote:

He is just beautiful..we have 2 Shars on my block. Yours is huge compared to our neighbors.


He is the second largest Shar-Pei I've ever seen. His shoulder comes to my knee and he's just under 70 pounds. His sister is a bit more normal at 50 or so pounds. He really is her big brother. I need to find out where the other Shar-Pei are so that after I move I can pop over and say hi to the pups (and their owners).

Originally posted by citizen citizen wrote:

ah, you're just having buyer's remorse. the water's fine - jump in! as long as you don't need the high school (intractable.)


Nah, I don't think it's buyers remorse. I am really looking forward to the move. There's much going on personally which is affecting the excitement of the move, but I guess that is to be expected. Hopefully my current town house will sell quickly and the burden of mortgages on two homes will be a memory.

My initial nervousness came from these forums, especially since I found the forums on the Wikipedia article on FP. These forums were listed " as a water cooler for residents to gather, discuss issues of general interest, politics, youth activities, education and local services", and I just wanted to make sure that my long held take on FP was accurate and that the forums were more a place for people to vent frustrations.

Originally posted by citizen citizen wrote:

hope you're the one to organize a 2nd political party.

Lord no. I spent two and a half years taking on the Village of Oak Park and their incessant hatred of all things dogs. Although the group my wife and I helped form continues on (and gets stronger every year) I stopped participating because I could no longer deal with the ignorance of the Village and 3 or 4 very vocal people who basically think all dogs are bad and shouldn't be allowed in the Village much less on PUBLIC LAND .... OMG NO!!!!!!!!

Anyway, I am usually out and about walking one or both pups somewhere in the area of my new home at least one evening a week and once or so on the weekends as well. If you see a guy with one or two Shar-Pei in tow somewhere between Dunlop and Hannah between Harrison and Filmore feel free to say hi.

Edited by Shar-Pei Guy - 01/June/2008 at 3:13pm
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Walk down the 1000 block of Thomas most of us are dog lovers as well as a new neighbor who has a horse..(not in her garage).
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Actually we were down 1000 Thomas earlier today, nice quiet block. We tend to walk the 800-1000 blocks of Lathrop, Ferdinand and Thomas the most, that should give a pretty good idea of where ground zero is for my new abode.
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Walk down the 1100 blocks . . . . . you never know, you could see a MOOSE Wink!  Yes, there's at least one moose in Forest Park.  But you really have to look for Neil (as in Neil Young and Rust Never Sleeps....if you find him you will know).
 
DC, does one of your neighbors have a horsey?  Horses are nice but such a commitment!  I have a friend who has 3.  Because of that she works 3 jobs.
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"I am also curious about how some of the people on this board seem to complain when houses remain junk piles and then in other posts they complain about Cherryfield (sp?) rehabbing so many homes the same way. The way I see it you have someone who is fixing up these homes, even if you don't see the use in a butler's pantry, at least the homes are being rehabbed."
 
Sure FP has problems, but I grew up in OP and they have worse. Calderone is a thorn in many people's sides, including mine. And yeah we bitch on here, that is what it is for.
 
 We like it here, we just want it better!
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"These forums were listed " as a water cooler for residents to gather, discuss issues of general interest, politics, youth activities, education and local services",
 
I don't actually think that should be posted on Wikipedia.
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Originally posted by jujube50 jujube50 wrote:

"These forums were listed " as a water cooler for residents to gather, discuss issues of general interest, politics, youth activities, education and local services",
 
I don't actually think that should be posted on Wikipedia.
 
Never had looked at that on FP.  Pretty funny as I have not heard of one of the noted personalities of FP.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_Park,_Illinois
 
Well, I believe it takes 3 incoming changes to something to an entry on that site to change it.  Don't you think this site should be mentioned?  Perhaps an amendment to its description though.
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Originally posted by piehead piehead wrote:

Never had looked at that on FP. Pretty funny as I have not heard of one of the noted personalities of FP. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_Park,_Illinois
Well, I believe it takes 3 incoming changes to something to an entry on that site to change it. Don't you think this site should be mentioned? Perhaps an amendment to its description though.


An amendment saying what? Beware of Sentry?

FTMP, I think the description of this place as a water cooler is apt.


"It is a wreave belief that we already are in Hell."- Tuluk in Frank Herbert's "Whipping Star"
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Yes a new neighbor has a beautiful horse named Chase. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pitbull Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/June/2008 at 6:43pm
I dont know what to tell you S-P Guy....If you would of asked that question about F.P. Years ago I would of said we are better than O.P. and cheaper and more down to earth than R.F...If you asked me now I'd say its ok to live here but dont invest too much because I promise you (and remember where you heard it first) you will leave soon....There are good people here but theres been too many lately that over-shadow the good.....Every block is like a hood within a hood and are all different......Hope if you stay you pick a good one...As far as your walking the dog in the areas you said Id say again nice people here and there but lock up what you dont want to lose or can't afford to because it will and has walked away from time to time.....The best way for me to describe this area and you will soon find out is that day and night make this town different....weekdays and weekends are different and for sure school in session and summer vaction are different....stay awhile and see for yourself if its right for you....To sum it up If you give it enough time you'll say I met nice people but Im not sure ....To me It sounds like youre a nice person and maybe if enough people like you move in then it may be worth it. Guess its like a lottery ticket where you get to pick the numbers and sit back and wait to see if you get lucky... Good Luck.
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There are still too many Dago's in Elmwood Park. Your best bet is Brookfield or try looking in LaGrange Park. There is a large turnover of old codgers there selling for cheap and moving to Scottsdale or Florida. FoPa is not the place for you. This town might be too rough for a genteel person like yourself. Especially if you don't cut your grass or buy your village stickers in a timely manner.



Those who can make you believe absurdities have the power to make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire~
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Wow, in 45 years I think this is the first time I have ever been described as genteel.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Shar-Pei Guy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/June/2008 at 10:36pm
Originally posted by Pitbull Pitbull wrote:

There are good people here but theres been too many lately that over-shadow the good.....Every block is like a hood within a hood and are all different......Hope if you stay you pick a good one...As far as your walking the dog in the areas you said Id say again nice people here and there but lock up what you dont want to lose or can't afford to because it will and has walked away from time to time.....The best way for me to describe this area and you will soon find out is that day and night make this town different....weekdays and weekends are different and for sure school in session and summer vaction are different....stay awhile and see for yourself if its right for you....To sum it up If you give it enough time you'll say I met nice people but Im not sure ....To me It sounds like youre a nice person and maybe if enough people like you move in then it may be worth it. Guess its like a lottery ticket where you get to pick the numbers and sit back and wait to see if you get lucky... Good Luck.


Sounds a lot like most of OP (except for the NW quarter). Over the years I've had the weirdest stuff disappear from the front of my house. I've been through the area during the day, in the evening, later at night, on week days and on weekends. You are right, it does change with the days and times, but I've seen nothing that didn't remind me of what the area of OP I live in now looked like when we moved in here. I HATED giving my friends directions to my place, hell I made sure that the route I gave was the "most scenic" and not the most direct. Times change, and neighborhoods do too. Much of what was around me when I moved here was Section 8 but almost all of that is gone now, nothing like continually rising housing values to turn rental properties back to owner occupied.

Hopefully the same will end up happening in South FoPa. I'd move into the Madison area if I could afford the nicer places, but one guy with one income can only do so much. I'd rather have a home where I have some disposable income to fix things up than be in a place that eats all my money just in the mortgage.
R.I.P. Dustin
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rdscaf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02/June/2008 at 11:19pm

Don’t take the prophets of doom to seriously; I have over 60 years in this town, and believe me there were always some problem children and families, just like any town.  Yes they may have been less than other places but the changes are more related to chances in society in general and not specifically to FP.  Some of the worst behaved children I have ever encountered were one night while walking through one of the north shore lake front suburbs.

 

This town will be only as good as WE make it!  It is our involvement that affects the quality of life; I was at the Plan Commission workshop tonight regarding the WYMCA plans and was very impressed with the participation of residence from the condos; hopefully they will not only limit their concern to their corner of the Village but realize that everything that happens in the Village effects them and become more evolved with everything that happens in town along with all the residents.

 

It is our quality of life and it is what we make it!

 

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pitbull Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/June/2008 at 5:07am
Actually I think ( In my opinion ) you have had one of the best introductory messages on the forum here S-P Guy...Im not saying this is the worst place to live but it depends on the circumstances...If you said I found an apartment here in F.P. for 500 bucks all utilities paid (yeah good luck) Id say take it and grow roots.....If you said you were going to spend 749,000 to live on the 1000 block of Thomas (Or anywhere else in this town ) Id say you were a chump....Get what you can out of this town but it IS and HAS gone downhill whether you residents want to admit it or not...I got a laugh a few days ago when I said the town once called Harlem now called Forest Park will someday be called Maywood East or even better and my favorite Maywood Heights. If I had the 750,000 to spend Id rather live in a 1 bedroom fish shanty in Riverside for the money instead of a 5 bedroom house in F.P.....I know most of you won't like it but you have to face the facts,  and that is the outlook of F.P. is bleak at best and has been the past several years.


Edited by Pitbull - 03/June/2008 at 5:21am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote watcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/June/2008 at 6:50am
I think Pitbull has come up with a new FoPa motto.

"Circling the drain for over 40 years."

At some point you just have to take pride that despite the forecasts of imminent flushing; When the swirling stops we're still afloat.

<lack of emoticon should not be read as lack of <g>
"It is a wreave belief that we already are in Hell."- Tuluk in Frank Herbert's "Whipping Star"
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mr. Deeds Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03/June/2008 at 8:47am
Any truth to the rumor that FoPa inspired the "Tidy Bowl Man" commercial?
At%20a%20loss

Those who can make you believe absurdities have the power to make you commit atrocities. ~Voltaire~
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