A monthly flea market could be coming to Forest Park if village officials can scratch the itch of a local businessman.
Brian Shamhart of Studio 8, a vintage resale/interior design shop that relocated to Madison Street from Oak Park in February, proposed at the May 14 village council meeting that a monthly flea market be held in the village parking lot at Madison and Circle Avenue.
Although village officials raised numerous concerns, the proposal received enough support for Mayor Anthony Calderone to instruct village staff members to meet with Shamhart to answer questions and address concerns that were raised so that a revised proposal could be considered at the Tuesday, May 29 village council meeting.
"It's an intriguing idea," Calderone said. "We've got to consider the unintended consequences."
Shamhart and Village Administrator Tim Gillian confirmed that they spoke and are working toward scheduling a meeting.
Primary concerns raised by village commissioners included setting a precedent by allowing a private business to hold an event on village-owned property and the impact on village staff and resources.
"I'm glad they moved in," Commissioner Joseph Byrnes said of Studio 8. "If we do this for them, will we have to do it for others?"
Byrnes indicated he would be more receptive to the proposal if it were coming from the Chamber of Commerce or had more community participation.
"In concept, it's a great idea," Commissioner Dan Novak said. "We need staff to vet it."
Novak expressed concerns regarding the impact such an event would have on those living nearby the location and those who regularly park in that lot.
"Conceptually, it's a good idea," Commissioner Tom Mannix said. "There a lot of details that need to be worked out."
Like Byrnes, he indicated he would view the proposal differently had it come from the Chamber of Commerce instead of from a private business. He also cited potential loss of revenue from parking fees; whether a fee would be charged to have a booth or table at the flea market; and how much time staff members and the police would need to devote.
"It has potential," Commissioner Rachell Entler said. "There are a lot of unanswered questions."
After the meeting, Shamhart addressed one of the concerns.
"This really wouldn't be a Studio 8 thing," he said. "We're not doing this just for our own benefit. We would be open to and would even push for a partnership with the village or the chamber."
In his proposal, Shamhart said he was targeting the third Sunday of each month from June to October but said he would be flexible regarding dates.
He considered multiple locations, including public and private, before choosing the municipal lot at Circle and Madison.
"If it's going to work, that where it's got to be," Shamhart said, noting he has three years of experience managing similar but smaller events on private property at Studio 8's previous location in Oak Park.
He made the proposal to the village "three or four weeks ago," he noted, but did not receive a response, adding that he was surprised to learn the proposal was on the agenda for Monday's meeting. Although he attended Monday's meeting and addressed the village council during the public comment portion of the meeting, he said he was frustrated that village council policy prevented him from responding to questions or commenting on concerns raised during the meeting.
Nevertheless, "I think we're off to a good start," Shamhart said, admitting the outcome was "not unexpected."
Although he said his original hope to start holding the flea market in June is no longer realistic, he thinks holding the event in August, September and October "would work."