A sleek new logo has been unveiled for the new Roos Recreation Center, a sign of progress for the Park District of Forest Park's soon-to-open fitness facility.
"We wanted the logo to really talk about the sense of community," said Rachell Entler, village commissioner and recreation and marketing supervisor at the park district.
About a month ago, Forest Park's Yearbook Studios approached officials about developing a logo for the center pro-bono. Entler said Yearbook co-founder Jef Anderson met with park district commissioners to talk about what ideas officials wanted people to associate with the new $6 million rec center; terms emerged like "family friendly," "fun place to be for people of all ages" and "state-of-the-art."
The park district also issued a request for proposals for designing the new insignia. Officials received two: one from a woman in Oak Park and another from Yearbook.
Officials chose Yearbook, primarily because they are based in Forest Park, Entler said. Yearbook signed a $6,500 contract in December to complete a brochure, fliers and more, said Larry Piekarz, executive director. The district will work with another public relations and marketing firm on additional services, Entler said. Officials have not yet chosen the marketing firm.
But the new logo is just the start of news at Roos which, after 10 months of construction, is set to be completed by mid-April, allowing time for a deep cleaning and decoration before the facility's grand opening on May 26.
Piekarz said the mild fall weather enabled workers to get ahead of schedule and have 70 percent of the work finished by the beginning of the New Year. Already completed are the roof, siding, glass, concrete, painting, and most of the electrical and plumbing.
Two pillars, which once framed the old Roos Cedar Chest Factory entrance on the site, have also been set up in the lobby of the rec center, as a reminder of the importance the Roos roots in Forest Park. The Forest Park Review once described the old, 18,000-square-foot factory as the town's "largest manufactury," employing 400 locals to build cedar bridal chests.
Yet to be completed in the homestretch to meet grant deadlines is the gym floor and the installation of light fixtures on the inside of the facility. This spring three fitness stations, benches, and a ninja warrior obstacle course for teens and preteens will be readied for use outside the building.
Piekarz and his board are especially excited to be starting the last phase of construction because the whole project has been something of a marathon.
Work really began back in 2013 with the demolition of the Roos building. Then came the toxic clean-up required by the Environmental Protection Agency, during which an underground tank was discovered unexpectedly and had to be disposed of. That was followed by funding uncertainty caused by Springfield politicians' inability to agree on a budget.
"I am praying that the state of Illinois comes through with the money we've been promised," Piekarz said, noting that they couldn't apply for the $2.5 million Park and Recreation Construction grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources until half the work had been completed. Piekarz said another $400,000 grant — called the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development — from the state's Department of Natural Resources won't be paid until work is done.
Both of these grants have already been matched by sources like the increased tax levy approved in a referendum by Forest Park voters. Still, the inherent uncertainty in the funding process has led to the park board being fiscally conservative and "squirreling away money" in case the state doesn't come through with the expected funding, Piekarz said. He said officials have already spent $400,000 from a Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant.
On Feb. 10, the park district will begin staffing the new rec center by hosting a job fair for prospective part-time and seasonal employees, including day camp counselors, front desk staff, sports coaches and more. No full-time employees will staff the new facility. Entler said Roos is looking to expand its volleyball, basketball, floor hockey and kickball programs.
"We've got a list of things to start off with, but if the kids come to us interested in trying something, now we have the ability to do that because we have control of our gym space," Entler said.
The job fair will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Park Headquarters, 7501 Harrison St.